Video

Peer Networking and Building your Circle of Social Supports in Manitoba

Matt Derraugh | AIDE Canada
There are a number of organizations in Manitoba that help people with disabilities and mental health issues, including people on the autism spectrum, learn and/or improve their social skills to assist them in communicating and making friends. These include Inspire Community Outreach and Manitoba Possible (formerly the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities), as well as organizations geared towards children and teens such as I Can Pretend! and OHEYS Autism Programs. Peer support groups can also provide a sense of connection to others in similar circumstances and Asperger Manitoba has a monthly facilitated meeting that is well attended.

 

What you need to know:

There are a number of organizations in Manitoba that help people with disabilities and mental health
issues, including people on the autism spectrum, learn and/or improve their social skills to assist them in
communicating and making friends. These include Inspire Community Outreach and Manitoba Possible
(formerly the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities), as well as organizations geared towards
children and teens such as I Can Pretend! and OHEYS Autism Programs. Peer support groups can also
provide a sense of connection to others in similar circumstances and Asperger Manitoba has a monthly

facilitated meeting that is well attended.

What is this video about?

Because of the social impediments that come with autism, many people on the spectrum find
interacting with others and making friends difficult. Some people on the spectrum have little to no
social connections with their peers, while others have managed to overcome many of their difficulties
and establish a social circle or at least network using a method of communication that is not as hard

for them.

How was this video developed?

The producer(s) reached out to a number of self advocates with differing social experiences and spoke to them about the challenges they faced making connections with others, how they went about improving their social skills and building a network if they had done so and how they interact with others on a regular basis. The producer(s) also asked what services, if any, they had utilized to assist them with this task and how effective they were.

The self-advocates interviewed by the producer(s) said they faced a multitude of common challenges with social interaction including:

  • Reading the body language and social cues of others.
  • Picking up on emotions and vocal tones in conversation.
  • “Perseverating” on topics of interest that were not necessarily shared by those they interacted with; not knowing when to stop or when the other person had lost interest.
  • The “Autistic burnout” that comes as a result of the stresses of trying to socially navigate a neurotypical world.
Those that had improved their interpersonal skills and social lives overcame their obstacles through a

variety of methods, including:

  • Assertively interacting with strangers to eliminate social anxiety.
  • Forming or joining online communities centred around common interests, usually through mediums like Discord, Meetup and various internet forums.
  • Working with counsellors at their educational institution and/or utilizing organizations and programs that specialize in helping people on the spectrum learn social skills.
  • Joining public groups and/or causes with others of like mind.

How can you use these findings?

These findings demonstrate the difficulties people with autism face with making friends and
establishing a network of peers, and how some have managed to improve their interpersonal skills and
social situation. You can find out more about social skills supports for people with autism at the

following links:

Inspire Community Outreach: A non-profit organization that provides people with mental health issues

and disabilities with education and programs to assist them and accommodate their needs.

Manitoba Possible (formerly the Society For Manitobans With Disabilities): An organization that works
to provide accessibility for people with disabilities, including employment assistance and preparation,

financial empowerment and adult recreation.

Asperger Manitoba

 

Helena Lopes on Unsplash

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