NASplus+ Glasgow is aimed at teenagers and young adults aged 14 to 24
A charity has created a new programme that aims to help young people with autism or who believe they may be autistic.
National Autistic Society Scotland has launched a programme of social support for autistic teenagers and young people living in Glasgow.
NASplus+ Glasgow is aimed at teenagers and young adults aged 14-24 who either have a diagnosis of autism or suspect they may be autistic.
According to Scottish Government estimates there are close to 10,000 autistic people in Glasgow. But with two thirds of autistic people in Scotland reporting they feel socially isolated - the charity is keen to try and support people to build friendships and feel more connected.
The 15 week NASplus+ Glasgow Social Navigation Programme is free and focused on building confidence, developing social navigation strategies as well as providing a safe and secure environment for autistic people to connect and build friendships.
Funded through Glasgow City Council Community Fund, the online groups start in September and are free to attend. The groups focus on fun activities created with shared interests in mind and are supported by trained staff and volunteers.
Melanie, a parent from Garrowhill, said: “Lachlan is looking forward to starting NASplus+ in September, he has taken part in similar groups at the charity and I’ve seen him grow in confidence as well as gain more understanding about autism and himself. He has always struggled with friendships and in the past has been a closed book, but through these online groups he has started to make connections and get to know others.
"I’m really proud of him – he has good days and bad days of course and things can often be difficult, but I’ve really seen him come on. As a family we’re feeling more positive about the future.”
Nick Ward, director of National Autistic Society Scotland, said: "The pandemic and lock down have been incredibly difficult for many young autistic people. We’ve seen dramatic change to routine and structure in school and at home, which have put huge pressures on individuals and their families.
"We have heard how many young autistic people have felt socially isolated and have struggled with anxiety and mental health difficulties.
"Through NASplus+ Glasgow and our new Social Navigation Programme we’re hoping to address some of these issues by empowering autistic teenagers and young adults through social navigation strategies which in turn help build confidence and form friendships so they are more included alongside their peers in Glasgow life.”