Social group to help those with Asperger’s

SOCIAL GROUP: Ben Wilshire is setting up a social group in Bathurst for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning autism. Photo: PHILL MURRAY 050714pben
SOCIAL GROUP: Ben Wilshire is setting up a social group in Bathurst for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning autism. Photo: PHILL MURRAY 050714pben

A SOCIAL group which has been formed for adults with Asperger’s syndrome and high functioning autism will have its first meeting this month. 

Orange local Ben Wilshire has set up the social group in Bathurst to help those who have these conditions feel more socially included.

“I myself have the condition and want to help others and myself feel socially included and feel less like the odd ones out,” he said.

“The aim of the group is to get together in an informal setting and build confidence, social skills and talk about ways of working together for autism advocacy.”

The 22-year-old, who has been running a similar group in Orange since October, said that the most important aspect of the group meetings was having fun. 

He said the group running in Orange met once a month and was trying to do additional social activities. 

Mr Wilshire said Asperger’s syndrome was a hidden disability, and added that those who had it usually had average or high cognitive intelligence.

“Yet they have great difficulty interpreting everyday social cues such as facial expressions or body language,” he said. 

“Typically they stand too close, interrupt conversation and continue to speak whether or not anyone is interested.”

Mr Wilshire said people with Asperger’s or autism often experienced anxiety in social situations and liked to have routine.

He said he thought the group was a good way to help make those with these conditions more comfortable in social situations.

Mr Wilshire said while awareness about Asperger’s and autism was getting better, there was still a lot of misunderstanding.

“Some people still don’t believe it really exists, or think females can’t get it or that it is caused by vaccinations, which it is not,” he said.

The group will have its first meeting at the Bathurst Information and Neighbourhood Centre (BINC) between 10am and midday on May 24. Anyone wishing to attend can contact Ben on 0413 712 601 or email him at ben.wilshire@gmail.com.