The group will primarily focus on people living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), though all neurodivergent LGBTQ+ people will be encouraged to join. Attendees are not required to have any form of formal diagnosis.
Kat Taylor, Sahir House’s LGBTQ+ Engagement Worker commented:
“We’re very excited about this new collaboration with Merseyside Autistic Adults. Our initial effort will be focussed on creating a safe, accessible and regular social space for autistic and neurodivergent LGBTQ+ people.”
The idea for the group came about after a chance conversation between local community activist, Graeme Lavery and Sahir House’s CEO, Ant Hopkinson. Both men proudly live with autism.
Graeme Lavery commented:
“ Despite having years of additional support with learning difficulties, it wasn’t until I left university that a mental health nurse, highlighted that I was in fact exhibiting typical autistic traits and that a formal diagnosis would greatly improve my understanding of my self but to make better adjustments for my future health and wellbeing”.
“I was surprised there wasn’t any specific lgbtq+ support for autistic adults in Merseyside considering that diagnosed Individuals’ are 6-7 times more likely to identify as lgbtq+ and or have gender identity issues. Sahir House has been my rock following a HIV diagnosis ten years ago, however as services have changed, I saw an opportunity to out reach to a new area of lgbtq+ specifically the adults living with autism. Due to a lack of funding in Merseyside for such services, am glad that volunteer led Merseyside Autistic Adults, have provided a warm and welcoming space for me to learn more and meet likeminded folk; to bring a natural collaboration which am sure will open up the doors to people getting access to much needed support”.
Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.
Autistic people may find some aspects of communication and social interactions challenging. They may have difficulty relating to people and understanding their emotions. Autistic adults may also have inflexible thought patterns and behaviour and may carry out repetitive actions.
Evidence suggests that neurodivergent individuals, particularly those diagnosed with ASD, are significantly more likely to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or queer than those who are neurotypical.
Neurodivergent people are also more likely than the general population to be gender non-conforming.
Ant Hopkinson, Sahir House’s CEO, commented:
“Receiving my autism diagnosis early this year has changed my life. At the age of 39, I finally feel like I understand myself.
The usual popular stereotypes about autism made it difficult for me to realise that I could be autistic. I’m told that it’s not uncommon for high-functioning adults to receive a diagnosis later in life as we become well-practised at masking our differences. But, in all honesty, I do wish I’d found out about my autism much sooner.
Since receiving my diagnosis, I’ve been shocked by how little support is available for adults living with ASD and in particular those from within our LGBTQ+ community. Fortunately, as CEO of Sahir House, I find myself in a position where I can help make a difference – albeit a small one – in this regard.
The stark reality is that funding for such initiatives is scarce and we can only do so much. I’d encourage anyone wanting to support our work to reach out to me directly for a conversation”
Sahir House’s LGBTQ+ Neurodivergent Group with Merseyside Autistic Adults will be held on the first Friday of every month commencing Friday 2nd June.
Sessions will be held within the Charity’s HQ within the LCVS Building in central Liverpool.
For more information and to get involved please email email@example.com