Tutorials on how to lead/facilitate a group
Below are the beginnings of a list of online tutorials for anyone who might be considering starting an autistic/Aspie peer support group, or an autistic/Aspie peer-led social group.
So far, we haven't found any tutorials on how to build or lead/facilitate an autistic peer-led group, in particular. At some point we should create our own tutorials.
In the meantime, below are some general tutorials on how to build and facilitate peer support groups, plus some general tutorials on how to build and lead social groups.
Some of the advice in these tutorials may be extraordinarly difficult or inappropriate for at least some of us as autistic people. We'll need to come up with effective workarounds for such issues, given common autistic impairments.
There are also some important issues not covered in any of the tutorials below, such as how to accommodate the difficulties many autistic group members may have with knowing when it's our turn to speak (or knowing when to shut up), and how to avoid cliquishness and ensure that newcomers continue to feel welcome as the group grows. Later, we'll try to fill in these and other gaps with our own tutorials.
But the tutorials listed below do contain lots of useful advice.
First, some general advice on how to lead groups of any kind:
- How to Effectively Lead Groups co-authored by Jessica Notini, JD, wikiHow, Last Updated: April 10, 2020.
Next, some tutorials on how to facilitate a support group:
- How to facilitate a support group - Community Tool Box, University of Kansas
- Mental Health America's Support Group Facilitation Guide (PDF)
- Facilitating Support Groups - World Institute on Disability
- Facilitating Peer Support Groups (PDF) - PFLAG National, October 2015
Below are some tutorials on facilitation of topic-oriented educational meetings. These seem to be targeted mainly at businesses (or consultants thereof) doing employee trainings, but they are likely to be relevant to at least some of the meetings/events held by hobby-oriented social groups and/or by career-oriented groups. They may also be relevant to some of the more topic-focussed meetings of support groups, and to meetings of APLeG itself.
- What Is Facilitation? - Association for Talent Development
- Ask a Trainer: Tips for Virtual Facilitation by Tim Slade, Tuesday, April 7, 2020
(Note: The advice in Tim Slade's tutorial to "Turn on Your Camera" is not applicable APLeG itself, since our online meetings are text-based chat. Members of APLeG are free to host video chats in their own groups, if they so choose and have the means of paying for it.)
Also relevant to facilitation in topic-oriented groups is the following:
Use Active Listening to Coach Others: Develop Your Active Listening Skillset, Center for Creative Leadership
And here is some advice on creating a social club, e.g. a hobby-oriented group:
- How to Start a Club -- 12 Easy Steps to Organize a Social Club (CareerLancer)
- Tips for Starting a Social Group: Making New Friends With Group Activities (liveabout dotcom)
The CareerLancer article includes advice on formal club organization, e.g. officers. This isn't really necessary until your group gets big enough to warrant formal nonprofit organization status.
On the other hand, a group -- especially a group of autistic people -- should begin developing rules and procedures relatively early on, after the first few meetings or so. Don't make more rules than you actually need, but, as you build the group, you should add rules as necessary to keep your group functioning well, and you should make your rules explicit rather than leave them unspoken. Remember, we autistic folks tend to have more-than-normal difficulty guessing unspoken rules.
The following tutorials are oriented mostly toward student clubs at schools, but much is applicable to other kinds of hobby-oriented social groups or career-oriented groups:
- How to Be a Good Club President co-authored by wikiHow Staff, Last Updated: March 8, 2020
- How to Start a Social Club co-authored by Ashley Pritchard, MA, Last Updated: November 5, 2020.
Below is a tutorial on how to lead business meetings. Some of the advice is also relevant to career-oriented group meetings and to hobby-oriented social group meetings:
- How to lead an effective meeting by Brendan L. Smith, American Psychological Association: "No one wants to attend a dull, unproductive meeting. Here's how to make yours engaging and successful."
Some general club-leadership tutorials can also be found on some commercial sites. The following tutorials are on the websites of companies that host templated websites and/or phone apps, for which the following tutorials do double duty as promotions. But they do contain other useful info.
- Secrets to Running a Successful Club (GroupWorks [TM])
- How to Start a Club: 7 Steps to Starting A Membership Club or Organization by Tatiana Morand, Organizational Management, February 25, 2020 (Wild Apricot)
- 5 Qualities of a Great Leader (ClubRunner)
Again, stuff about formal organization (officers, by-laws, non-profit status, etc.) can be ignored until the group gets big enough to warrant them.
The following page is on the website of a company that does background checks.
- 4 Creative Ways To Start A Social Group In Your Community, May 2, 2018 (TruthFinder)
Note: For our purposes, background checks on individual members are neither necessary nor desirable, in the interests of protecting members' privacy. But, when a group gets big enough to warrant a creating formal nonprofit organization, then it's probably a good idea for the officers and members of the board of directors/trustees to do background checks on each other.
As a group grows, its meetings will need to become more and more structured. In marticular, meetings at which decisions get made will especially need to be structured, to ensure that everyone's ideas are treated fairly, yet without having the meetings drag on for too long. Exactly what structure works best will vary depending on the type of group, but some variation of the classic Robert's Rules of Order should probably be considered.
Beyond the above tutorials, if you google "leadership skills," lots and lots of tutorials come up -- but most of them pertain to business management, not to support or social groups. At some point, one of us should probably plow through a bunch of those business management-oriented tutorials to see which if any of them are also relevant to our purposes and contain good info not already covered in the above tutorials.
Finally, here are some relevant Wrong Planet threads:
Queens discussion group: Autistic adult peer support and self-help group that currently meets in online chat (text-based) and will eventually meet in-person again after the COVID crisis.
Where to get an ASD evaluation as an adult: This page will be expanded and updated sometime after the COVID crisis is over with.