Lee has autism and a mild learning disability. He has been receiving support from Aberlour Options Dundee since October 2012. This support has focused on a variety of things including social skills and self-confidence. As part of this support, Lee was given the opportunity to attended the first Aberlour Youth conference in 2016.
Lee and 50 other young people from Aberlour services across Scotland spent a weekend away doing workshops, and outward-bound activities. After YouthCon ’16, Lee reported that although he had enjoyed some parts of it, he felt some of it was ‘too childish’ and that he felt there were ways that it could be improved.
Lee produced a graphic about what he felt could be done to improve the conference for other young people. He was invited to be part of the young people’s planning committee for the next YouthCon’17.
Other young people on the committee were based in Moray so Lee had to learn to use Skype from Dundee. He learned to use the software quickly, and said of the group:
“Although it was hard at first because I didn’t know the other young people, everyone was really nice and I quickly felt more confident. The best bit of being a part of the planning group was having my ideas listened to and hearing other young people’s great ideas.”
Lee’s biggest concern with the overnight conference was the time that young people were asked to be in bed. Lee was a night owl and thought that having no bedtime or a much later bedtime would make the conference more enjoyable.
Despite conversations with staff, Lee didn’t recognise that this would not be practical or possible. When this topic came up with the planning group Lee was able to compromise and agreed to an 11:30pm bed time. Lee said afterwards that hearing that the other young people also did not think it was a good idea made him realise that it wouldn’t work.
Lee was very excited when it was time for the YouthCon’17 and met with the other young people attending from Dundee to tell them a bit more about it. Lee told staff he felt more confident attending the conference this year as he already knew lots of other young people from the planning group.
As part of the planning group Lee also helped to put together a workshop on internet safety which he presented at the Youth Conference with other young people. Lee was surprised when he did not feel nervous despite there being a big audience and described presenting the workshop as “amazing”.
During the Youth conference Lee also did a welcome speech and was a judge for the ‘Aberlour’s Got Talent’ show. At the end of the Youth conference, a number of other young people approached Lee to thank him for all his hard work and say how much they’d enjoyed his talk and workshop.
Lee’s Future Plans
Lee thoroughly enjoyed helping plan YouthCon’17 and is helping with the planning the Youth Conference in 2018. Lee’s confidence and social skills improved greatly as a result of his involvement. Lee is starting college soon to do a life-skills course and has stated that he is more likely to volunteer for similar planning groups. Lee also plans to make use of his new-found confidence and social skills to attend a local group for young people with autism to make new friends and widen his social circle.
“Helping to plan the Youth Conference has made me feel more focused and confident! Seeing how much the other young people enjoyed the Youth Conference made me feel proud and amazing!”
“Lee worked really hard planning for the Youth Conference and it was great to see him gain so many new skills and put these to such excellent use.”
– Lee’s Keyworker
Aberlour Options – Dundee