Win-win – a volunteer’s perspective

On an extended holiday to Perth, West Australia in early 2019 to visit family, our young grandson was diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum. Whilst being upset initially, we all quickly realised this opened the way towards him receiving the help he needed and so it has proved over the last year.

Once I was back in Aberdeen I decided to try and learn something about the autism spectrum so I’d be in a better position to help my daughter, grandson and the whole family. I saw the Grampian Autistic Society Open Day advertised in the P & J and decided to go along. There was a range of folk there from professionals in the field, teachers, parents and GrAS staff. Tom Wilson from the Board of Directors gave a talk which had a good number of pointers for me. Being retired I was thinking about some volunteering and spoke to the staff at GrAS about this. Being told there was a need for extra admin help in the office was perfect for me and since May I’ve done a day a week in the office helping with the basic admin tasks the office staff are pressed to find time for. At the same time, I’ve gained a bit more insight into the autistic spectrum condition.

 It’s a win-win for me (and GrAS, I hope). I also went along to a training session at GrAS led by Lisa Moir entitled  “Learning to Play ” and found I was able to put some of the suggestions made there into practice when visiting Perth again in October. Although I think I was the only grandparent there I didn’t feel out of place and it was helpful to hear the viewpoints and tips from parents and other professionals attending.

Almost every week there is something in the news about autism, sometimes distressing stories but more usually about how well people on the spectrum can do with the right support. That’s what I’ve found everyone at GrAS is striving for and I’m happy to do a wee bit in the background to assist. I’ve signed up for the Kilt Walk in June raising funds for GrAS. I’ll be lucky to start my training in the sunshine in Australia quite soon with my grandson scootering alongside.

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