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Soroptimists Showcase Autism Support

Learning and development – empowering children with autism and associated neurodevelopmental conditions. This was the theme of South Lancashire Region’s recent ‘virtual’ Programme Action (PA) meeting.

The Soroptimists heard from Vanda Reeves of Addvanced Solutions Community Network. This organisation offers community-based programmes aimed at supporting families in Merseyside and beyond. Understanding individual needs, and managing day-to-day challenges are central to the work.

Vanda worked through the complexities of ‘autism’, highlighting key features of the condition and the wide-ranging nature of the ‘spectrum’. There is so much overlap.

Sensory processing deficit and its implications is, for example, a complex topic. To hear that eight senses – including some from inside the body – need to be considered was a revelation to most. Yet Vanda enabled her audience to grasp the basics of this condition.

The Soroptimists’ personal accounts and questions brought the morning session to a lively conclusion.

At the afternoon’s ‘virtual’ Region Council meeting, the guest speaker was Siobhan Matthews, Membership and Organisational Development Officer for SI Republic of Ireland (ROI).

Siobhan spoke of initiatives that ROI is developing to retain and grow its membership. The national PA project on climate change, for example, is proving popular. Clubs are organising their own environmental tasks, linked to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Through publicity clubs are attracting local interest, particularly from younger women.

Realistic planning and partnership working are vital. Initial interest in PA needs to be nurtured into a wider understanding of Soroptimism. From this initial interest, too, friendship grows.

Interestingly Siobhan has found that ‘virtual’ meetings have boosted numbers attending ROI events. ‘Stay connected’ is the ROI President’s theme.

Partnership, Programme Action, Publicity, Friendship … in Covid times we are used to PPE, but maybe Soroptimists need to work with PPPF in mind?