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Roger N. Meyer "...of a different mind "
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PORTLAND ASPERGER SUPPORT GROUP

A Peer Led Support Group for AS Adults

 

 

 

WHO WE ARE

 

     In September 1998 a group of Portland area adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS)) met to form their own support group.  Meetings are open only to persons over 18 who have a medical or self-diagnosis (peer confirmed) of Asperger Syndrome.  We range in age from the mid twenties to 84.  Although we started off with just one facilitator, since March 2004 we've had four co-facilitators.  We ask all persons interested in joining to call us first to see whether the group will suit their needs.

 

WHERE AND WHEN WE MEET

 

     Our meetings are held regularly on the second Sunday of each month, between the hours of 3-6 PM.  Our regular meeting place the United Methodist Church, Mt. Tabor, 6161 SE Stark Avenue, Portland.  The church is not directly on a bus line, but can be accessed using the #20 Burnside bus and the #15 bus.  Riders should get off at SE 60th Avenue.  From Belmont, walk four blocks North to Stark and then uphill on Stark one block.  Burnside bus riders get off at SE 60th and walk South on 60th to Stark, then uphill on Stark one block.  Crosstown transportation is available on the #71 bus, and the #75 bus.  Individuals wishing further directions are encouraged to contact the moderator at 503-666-2776.  The church and its parking lot is plainly visible from the street.

 

HOW WE OPERATE

 

     Our present format allows for topical discussion and/or panel presentations based upon polling of members' interests at the beginning of the year.  At that time, we map out our calendar of discussions, trainings, presentations and activities for twelve months.  We have held picnics and outings to places of special interest.  Depending on member interest (and numbers), our facilitators can also lead smaller discussion groups even when another event is taking place.  We encourage members to consider co-leading workshops and single-topic discussions known to be of interest to the group.  This group is for AS adults only.  In the future we may develop consensus regarding attendance by  non-spectrum guests.  Other future attendees might be parents of AS adults.  At present, parents are not allowed to attend.

 

     We are  self-governing and self-supporting.  We set our own agendas, maintain our own communications, and run our own meetings and events.  The meeting place is a safe environment.  We do not allow threatening or intimidating behavior.  Our members have agreed to the following rules of conduct:

 

        We deal immediately with any conflict or misunderstandings as they arise. No unresolved issues should remain by the end of the meeting.  In the case of major disagreement, we can offer private mediation.

 

        We operate by consensus and rules of common courtesy.  While we are mindful of those who aren't in attendance at a given meeting, people attending make decisions for the group.

 

        On matters of confidentiality, we agree to the following:

 

a) What we say in the group stays with the group

b) This means no gossip with outsiders about people or issues discussed at the meetings

c) Our names and identities will not be disclosed outside the group

d) Group members observe these rules when making public presentations before others

 

 

        On manners and behavior we agree to the following:

 

a) We agree to always show deference and respect towards one another.

b) We agree to exercise tolerance and patience with one another, and honor each other's differences.

c) What we do is more important than what we say.  If harm is being done by an event or someone's behavior, the harm will be addressed first, not the clarification of a person's intent.  We will look at intent in due time, but only once people feel safe.  Damage control comes first.

 

OTHER MATTERS

 

a) Email is our preferred method of communication.  It is cheap and instantaneous.  We know some persons do not have email accounts, so we can inform them of events by telephone.  We encourage members without email to establish a free account on Yahoo, Juno or Hotmail and use the public libraries for email access, which is at no cost.

 

b) Behavior of guests.  If an invited guest disrupts the group and causes dissension or derailing of the agenda, he/she will be asked to leave for the remainder of the meeting.  The sponsoring member is free to stay following the departure of the guest.

 

c) Decisions regarding the direction of the group or the agenda are made by consensus and open discussion.  We do not use secret balloting, adherence to Roberts Rules or other aspects of formal parliamentary behavior.

 

d) Training in communication, social skills, and leadership.  A prime objective of many group members is to develop their communication and social skills in a safe environment.  We offer that.  We also provide opportunities for members to learn leadership skills.  That is how our present co-facilitator arrangement came about.

 

e) New Members.  We encourage adults wishing to join the group to make inquiry of the moderator for an orientation prior to their first meeting.  For new members, we have individual folders containing information and handouts already shared with current members.

 

f) There is no charge for group membership, but we do have expenses.  While members are free to donate towards these expenses, a contribution of money or in-kind work is not a condition of membership.

 

g) Our mailing list and personal identifying information is private.  The only information currently shared among all members is email addresses.  For those not having access to a computer or on-line accounts, the least identifying contact information is provided.  That is usually a telephone number.  Some members may wish no contact from others outside of the group meeting, and only their name will appear on the common list.  To join the group, a new member needs to provide complete contact information to which only the moderator and the group archivist will have access.

 

INFORMATION ABOUT OUR HOST

 

     Our original host was the Independent Living Resources Center, Portland's Center for Independent Living.  Our move out into the greater community was in full support of our orientation towards greater independence and community inclusion and acceptance.  Although many members may tend to isolate themselves, we still live in the same community as persons who are not on the autistic spectrum.  Tabor Heights United Methodist Church is a meeting location for a number of non-religious community groups and with an active outreach orientation. Other meetings may occur at the same time as ours, but in different locations in the building.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

 

     The primary source for further information about the group is Roger Meyer. He is the founder and primary moderator of the group.  Roger can be contacted at the address below.

 

Roger N. Meyer

18162 East Burnside

Portland, OR  97233

Phone 503-666-2776

Email: RogerNMeyer@earthlink.net

http://www.rogernmeyer.com

 


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