Engage Aotearoa

Tag Archives: Autism Spectrum Disorder

Alyssa’s Autism Acceptance Project

I recently discovered Alyssa’s Autism Acceptance Project online in a blog post by the project creator herself, Alyssa Bolger and her brother Lachlan, two teenagers on the autism spectrum on a mission to change their little corner of the world for the better. They are based in Australia but I found their story really inspiring and think you will too. I love solutions created by the people they are designed to serve. Insider knowledge is a special thing and it always seems a bit like finding treasure when I come across something like this. As a clinician, research is one thing, but it’s never quite as powerful as knowing real life examples of people doing well and what it’s been like for them. There’s a term for this, ‘the power of positive contact’ and it’s a key ingredient for creating accepting communities. This project has that in spades. You can find Alyssa’s Autism Acceptance Project and follow her family’s journey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheAAAProject/

Alyssa and Lachlan’s article on Reframing Autism gives us a real life example that totally busts the common myth that people on the autism spectrum aren’t interested in friendship and shines the light on the barriers that get in the way. All humans need friendship including people on the autism spectrum.

Alyssa and Lachlan write, “My name is Alyssa, and my younger brother is called Lachlan. We are both proud autistic teenagers and we are writing this post together (with a little help from our autistic parents), because we want everyone to know how important friendship is to us, as we know there are Neurotypicals out there who think autistic people don’t care about having friends.”

They go on to explain, “Lachlan and I have learned that making friends is all about having something in common. That’s why we started our Lego club called BrickTime a few years ago. It’s a safe place that’s seen lots of friendships, because of a common love of Lego. Some of the Lego builds have been amazing! We were even going to organise an exhibition to show off these builds, but COVID-19 put a stop to that. Hopefully, we’ll get to do it one day.

Along with BrickTime, the other thing we do as the AAA Project is travel to schools to talk to kids about autism. We started doing this because of a message that I received while I was the Telethon kid back in 2015. A young autistic girl (who was so happy to discover that she wasn’t the only autistic girl through seeing me on TV) sent a message to ask if I would be her friend. She said she didn’t have any friends in her small country town, because nobody ‘got her’. I would have loved to have been her friend but, unfortunately, I had no contact details for her (and I didn’t even know her name). So, we set off travelling around WA, in the hope that we might find her. We talked to kids from schools as far south as Albany and as far north as Kununurra. Lachlan and Dad did all the behind-the-scenes tech stuff, and Mum and I did the presentation.”

Read the full story here: Building Friendships Brick by Brick, by Alyssa and Lachlan Bolger on the Reframing Autism website.