Whirlwind of emotions and challenges

Programme coordinator Amy Mauer has been with Recreate NZ for 10 years, first as a youth volunteer and then creating meaningful opportunities for young people who experience disability, including those with autism.

30 May 2017 – Recreate NZ is a not-for-profit organisation that delivers youth development programmes. Amy Mauer shares a story about how their programmes have affected the ongoing transition of a young woman with autism.

TRANSITIONING INTO different stages in life for people with autism may as well be a bungy jump off the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

A steep climb to the unknown, support cables that you have to trust will catch you and then there is that step … that one tiny, little, step.

The one step that will send you plummeting over the edge, experiencing a sensation that you have never before felt in your life, and it is scary, very scary.

We understand that experiencing new things, transitioning through life and growing, as a person can be a raw whirlwind of emotions and challenges.

Our team helps individuals overcome their challenges, using social and adventure platforms to help youth with disability achieve great things.

We design programmes that let individuals start in their comfort zone and expand into the unknown, whether it is a day programme in Auckland, a weekend getaway, visiting the Gold Coast, climbing Mt Ruapehu or a movie at Sylvia Park.

The programmes allow us to work with the individual and the family, slowly introducing new challenges and goals.

This approach affords our participants the confidence to try new things, attempt harder programmes and to work towards new goals.

An example of an incredible transition from a shy little girl to a strong and confident 24-year-old young lady is Taylor Brown.

Taylor has achieved so many unbelievable feats, through trusting the strong relationships she has formed with Recreate NZ.

Taylor has been part of the Recreate NZ family for more than 10 years and in this time we have watched Taylor grow, learning to trust herself and to have confidence in her ability.

We have been privileged to assist Taylor in trying many new things over the years, from her first night away from home, to a life skills course that gave her the confidence and skills she needed to sign up to Unitec; to achieving kitchen skills that have transferred into her home life.

TRYING NEW THINGS: The Recreate Lifeskills cooking module was a success for Taylor Brown.

Gaining independence and confidence to deal with life and any changes that may come about is not often an easy feat for members of the autism community. Fostering positive attributes takes time, understanding and an un-wavering support system. If you were to meet Taylor 10 years ago, you would not recognise the amazing young woman she is today.

Taylor is one of many inspirational individuals in the autism and Recreate community who has experienced a great deal of change in her life with poise and grace.

Transition is not easy and there is no one-way to achieve it.

Every story is different and no two people have the same path.

At Recreate NZ, we value the journey towards independence and self-confidence and make it our goal to create an environment full of love and positivity, making the transition easier when the time comes.

We cannot change the sensation of a bungy jump but we can add more ropes, hold your hand when you take the step and supply the chase boat to catch you at the bottom.

  • Programme Coordinator, Amy Mauer (BSC MSc psych) has been a part of the Recreate family for the last 10 years, first as a youth volunteer, then working for Recreate to create meaningful opportunities for young people who experience disability, including those with autism.

This article was first published in Altogether Autism Journal Issue 2, 2017.