WHAT WE DO
Spectrum Gaming is an online community for autistic young people which has three main intended outcomes:
1) Building Friendships - A lot of autistic young people are lonely, isolated and struggle with friendships. We wanted to create a community where autistic young people feel comfortable and can make strong friendships in a safe way. Our main provision is our online community, that any autistic young person aged 8-17, from across the UK, can access. We also run meet ups for young people who live in the Greater Manchester area.
2) Increasing Self-Acceptance - Because of how much people misunderstand autism and the way it is diagnosed, unfortunately many autstic people hate their diagnosis or feel ashamed of being autistic. We want to make sure as many autistic people as possible are able to accept their differences and live the happiest lives they can
3) Advocacy - We don't just want to be a community that enables autistic young people to develop meaningful friendships and develop a more positive perspective of autism. We want to create a movement that will have a positive influence on society through advocacy, and enable strategic change to ensure the needs of autistic young people are met across the UK. We have created a platform where young people can share their voices through content, talks and more. You can see some examples of content we produce on our YouTube channel and read more about our advocacy work here.
In this video from 2021, Andy and some of our members share their thoughts about Spectrum Gaming and being autistic:
We believe that young people’s voices are the most important in deciding how services should be delivered and how they should be supported. Therefore, what we do, how we run and our transformation is driven by members of our community. We have autistic young people that are also part of our voluntary staff team, and they fulfil a variety of roles including Server Managers, Moderators, Minecraft Builders, Event Leads and more.
They will all be here to help and support you throughout your time in our community!
We work with our young people in equal partnership, to achieve what’s important for them.
We always try our best, encouraging challenge and change in order to learn and improve.
We prioritise the needs of our community to ensure that changes do not compromise their experience and help achieve excellence.
THE STORY BEHIND SPECTRUM GAMING
Spectrum Gaming was started by Andy, a 26 year old autistic adult who lives in Bury, Greater Manchester. Here is his story:
Just over 6 years ago I attempted suicide, as I had learnt that I was never going to live a happy life as an autistic person. This wasn't an emotional decision, but a logical one, as I saw no other way out of the miserable life I was living (I share more about what led to that moment in this video).
After I survived, I came into contact with some autistic people online who completely changed my life. I met people who had learned to accept their differences and were living life with meaning and purpose. They explained that as an autistic person, you have to live a different life to the norm, but that doesn't mean it has to be an unhappy one.
This glimmer of hope that I could actually be happy after years of hurt, mistreatment and misunderstanding is what enabled me to change how I lived my life. I fought to overcome severe anxiety and depression (which were a result of living in a world that wasn't made for me), and eventually became the happy person I am now, where I am able to be myself and find a place in the world where I can be my authentic self, rather than trying (and failing) to 'fit in'.
After struggling so much growing up, I made it my life goal to make sure as many autistic young people as possible avoid the struggles my generation and previous generations have faced. This work has been ongoing, and we have achieved more over time:
In 2017 I set up Autistic Life, a Facebook page that shared educational content about autism which has over 30,000 followers.
In 2018, I created an emotional video about what life is like for autistic young people, and worked with Pathways Associates CIC to do the UK's biggest consulation on the priorities of autistic young people.
In 2019 I started working full time at a local authority as the Inclusion Ambassador/ SEND Advocate, ensuring the views of SEND young people are heard strategically, in addition to becoming co-chair of the North West SEND Young People's Coproduction Network.
In 2020, I created Spectrum Gaming, an online community for autistic young people as a response to lockdown. We now have over 1,000 members and became a registered charity in March 2021.
Spectrum Gaming doesn't just focus on enabling friendships and connection, but on advocacy, and ensuring autistic young people heard.