Ninety autistic young people from across London and their families will benefit from new technology thanks to a grant from the London Freemasons.
The £60,000 grant to Ambitious about Autism will fund a new assistive technologist over three years, enabling young people with complex autism to communicate more effectively through technology.
It is hoped the technology will help them overcome the challenges they currently face.
Jolanta Lasota, chief executive of Ambitious about Autism, says: “We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant, which will provide immediate support to autistic young people who have been deeply affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
“This grant will also have a long-term impact, allowing our team of experts to develop new ways of supporting autistic young people that will improve many more lives in the future.”
All of the young people involved attend Ambitious College, a specialist autism day college in London. The college is run by Ambitious about Autism and has two campuses based in Tottenham and Isleworth.
The goal is to identify the right technology for each young person, enabling them to use it to pursue their education and communicate their needs.
Families and carers will also receive training so they can understand the technology, learn how to fix problems and to support their child at home. The wide range of technology on the market is exciting, but can be difficult to understand without specialist knowledge.
The assistive technologist is a specialist role to combine knowledge in technology, teaching and autism together.
Tony Shields from London Freemasons says: “I’m very pleased we’ve been able to help Ambitious about Autism, who do wonderful work for young people with autism.
“New technology offers major opportunities to help them improve their wellbeing in ways that were not possible only a few years ago and this will allow many of them and their families to take full advantage of it.”
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Masonic Charitable Foundation has agreed to adapt the first year of the grant, allowing young people to learn both at college and through distance learning at home.
It is expected that every one of the 90 learners will be better able to communicate their needs, show higher levels of wellbeing and generally make more progress in their development.
The project will help 480 people in total: the 90 young people with autism; 90 family members; 300 education professionals. This includes speech and language therapists, behaviour support workers, teachers and occupational therapists.