First, we foster a sense of belonging
Humans do not fare well living isolated and lonely lives, and loneliness has been associated with many negative outcomes. Social belonging is a sense of being connected and having positive relationships with others. Belonging is a basic human need.
Adults on the autism spectrum often share that they feel lonely, and this is something that often surprises people who are not on the spectrum. Many adults on the autism spectrum also express that they often feel misunderstood and this leads to isolation. For many, they have tried to ‘fit in’ but they desire to be accepted by society for who they are and what they can offer the world.
“It is important for adults to have the freedom to be themselves, and foster environments where they can explore their strengths and interests.”Dr. Heidi Stieglitz Ham
Belonging is a key component of Spectrum Fusion because it sets the foundation and increases the likelihood that individuals will move on to find meaningful engagement and find their purpose.
Everybody wants to belong, to connect with others, and to be understood. Through published autobiographies of autistic adults, it is clear that individuals on the spectrum have the same desire for connecting with others, and that they can feel just as lonely as anybody else.
Researchers have found that the best way to foster belonging is to have consistent positive frequent contact with the same people, and these contacts need to have a general feel of care and concern for the well being of one another.
An authentic community
Through fostering a sense of belonging, we have created an authentic community.
We have a vibrant group of people including individuals on the spectrum and those not on the spectrum, and we come together through the power of community and collaboration and make a significant impact on society.
We always dreamed of a community where individuals on the spectrum could develop a sense of belonging, find their purpose, thrive, grow and develop independence, and our dreams are now becoming a reality.
Autistic adults may have been socially isolated for a variety of reasons including the inability to initiate friendships and/or mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. These same individuals, once supported properly, are capable of making a significant contribution to society and they are already are doing great things. They require acceptance, guidance, and understanding.
What is a community?
When you are part of an authentic community, you support one another, use your strengths to help someone with their area of weakness, and scaffold one another. In order for a person to find their purpose, they need to understand their strengths. Sometimes they might not even know themselves well enough to fully understand their strengths if their self-esteem and confidence are low. We meet them where they are.
In our community, we connect and support one another, check on each other, text each other, cook together, write creative stories together, cry, laugh, learn from our mistakes, grow. Together, we navigate the complexities of social relationships and as one person told me, we “do life” together.
The idea of community also includes the greater community and linking with other organizations as well.