On March 23rd, 2018, Autism Able learners, staff, trustees, and volunteers came together for a workshop to develop and finalise our Theory of Change.
This is part of a process of evaluating and clarifying the impact of the help we provide to our learners and of adopting the New Philanthropy Capital ‘Four Pillars’ approach to strategy, evaluation and impact measurement.
If you are considering helping us fund and improve our services, refer clients to us, or to join us as staff, then our Theory of Change will help sum up how we work and why our approach is important and unique.
At Autism Able we do a truly wide range of work with our learners and service users:
- Traditional teaching and course learning
- Employability development
- Wellbeing oriented work such as music and sport
- Community and friendship building as a social centre
We believe each component of this work complements one another and creates a range of positive outcomes for learners and service users. We believe the diversity of opportunity we offer makes an individual referred to Autism Able better off than someone in a less varied or more traditional learning institution. Our Theory of Change will help us demonstrate this.
Autism Able’s first priority is a learner’s self-determination and independence. Each one has the opportunity to curate their learning experience and to pursue their particular interests, which is a crucial part of engaging people with ASC. In line with this philosophy, our Theory of Change was created in collaboration with our learners.
We wanted to ensure they felt the same about their experience with us and the services we offer. We wanted to ensure their perspective on how our work has helped them become more fulfilled and created positive change in their lives leads our strategy and development. That way we can agree on how we might continue to develop Autism Able’s offer in future.
Here’s how we used a fun collection of artistic and creative activities in order to draw out our learner’s priorities, agree on the outcomes that we aim for together, and establish the need for our services and demonstrate the causality that leads from our activities to our outcomes.
Why do our learners come to Autism Able?
Our learners were asked to draw themselves and their activities at Autism Able:
What did they do? Why did they come? What did they enjoy?
In as much detail as possible, our learners described what they do at Autism Able, what they’ve achieved during their time here and how they spend their time since they joined us.
We also asked them to write up how they’d changed and add these as post-it notes: how did they feel? What words would they use to describe themselves?
Our clients gave combinations of answers like this:
Makes me feel less depressed
At the social centre
I feel more sociable after coming here
Makes me stronger
Pictured with friends