My name is Clare and I originally decided to become a volunteer with EAGLE because I developed an interest in ASD due to my psychology studies. I commenced volunteering befriending a little girl with ASD on the EAGLE Summer Scheme in 2011. I found this experience so enjoyable that I decided to continue my association with EAGLE through becoming a volunteer with EAGLE’s Sibs Club - this was a different challenge as none of the children in this club have ASD!
When I heard that a volunteer was needed for EAP, starting in September 2012, I jumped at the chance! I really wanted to get back to working with children who have ASD as I find them a really intelligent and witty bunch. The EAP crew are no different, despite the fact that they have reached that adolescent stage! Volunteering for EAP on a weekly basis allows me to see how the children grow and develop their social skills over time. This is the most rewarding aspect of the club, seeing the young people becoming more confident as individuals. It is amazing to see the young people forming close bonds with each other, as this is something those with ASD find difficult.
The group inspired me to think beyond what the literature says about ASD, during my Masters in Atypical Child Development and to go on to work as a classroom assistant to a boy with autism. I have recently commenced a research job in disability at university level and part of my research looks at the experience of individuals with ASD at university. My hope through volunteering with EAP is that the young people realise the potential they have and if they wish to attend university or get their dream job, EAP shows them that anything is possible!
Just volunteering for those two hours every week helps me to play a part in creating a society where everyone is valued and considered equal. After all, some of the most influential people in the world have ASD. If you are considering volunteering with EAP, I would totally recommend it. I have had the time of my life and the young people are always guaranteed to make you laugh with their blatant honestly!