Ipswich woman creates resources to support refugees with autism and ADHD
- Credit: Annie Clements
A woman from Ipswich is determined to provide resources for Ukrainians with autism and ADHD who have been forced to leave their homes.
Annie Clements is the founder and chief executive of Autism and ADHD social enterprise.
She is also a mother to an autistic son and says that the war in Ukraine has brought home to her how difficult and traumatic life must be for neurodivergent families whose lives are touched by conflict and disasters.
“My middle son, Tom, has got severe autism and needs 24/7 care. He’s 31, and he’s at home with us,” said Annie.
“There was a real flashpoint for me about two days in [to the invasion] when everyone was starting to move. I thought, ‘Oh, my god – how the hell would I move with Tom?”
Annie contacted the British Red Cross to find out what provision there was for children dealing with trauma, but found that there was little that would be helpful to those with autism.
“We sat down as a team, and came up with the initial suggestion that we would create a card that support workers could have in their pockets, about how to support an adult or child with autism who’d just arrived at their desk.
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“Do this, but don’t do that. Something simple that you can read in 30 seconds.”
All these resources will also be available online, and Annie and the team are also creating similar cards for children, explaining their situation and reassuring them in a way that they can understand.
For example, a card given to an autistic child might say, “I’m feeling really scared, but I know my family are doing all they can to keep me safe.”
Now, Annie and her team are determined to raise the funds they need to create these resources, and share them with organisations worldwide.
“We suddenly realised that this resource is needed wherever there’s an issue. It will be needed in Syria, or somewhere after an earthquake,” she said.
“Whilst Ukraine needs it right now, we need to find a way to embed that into practice permanently.
“There’s an opportunity here for us in good, old Suffolk to make a really big difference.”
So far they have raised more than £1,600 towards creating the resources.