The NAATE (Non-formal learning Activities for Autistic Teenagers in Europe) project focused on non-formal learning to support the training of youth workers and to develop the social skills of autistic teenagers. Running from February 2019 to November 2020, this project was funded by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ Programme.
Prevalence estimates of autism are increasing, with 1% of children being diagnosed with autism in Europe. Non-formal learning activities and leisure activities such as art, yoga, sailing, activities with animals (pet support, equine activities) can support the development of the social skills of autistic teenagers. These activities have proven to be effective in several contexts. The inclusion of autistic teenagers in non-formal learning is even more important as this group is often excluded and their families often feel marginalised.
The NAATE project addressed the priorities of the EU strategy for Education and Training 2020. The priority “to enhance creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training” was central to the NAATE project and its impact on autistic people, their families, their local community, nationally, at the EU level and beyond.
The NAATE project was able to support the capacity building of youth workers, allowing them to develop their professional skills in providing non-formal learning activities to autistic teenagers, which impacted their families and local communities too.
NAATE focused on autistic teenagers whose educational needs in cognitive and socio-emotional development lack the support from professionals. The latter are not adequately trained in dealing with people with additional support needs, or the necessary knowledge to deal with children on the autistic spectrum.
The NAATE project aimed at improving the quality of non-formal education in the partner regions by using innovative practices and experiences from various settings. The project focused on addressing the needs of autistic people, such as fostering the development of their social competences. It facilitated their integration into the labour market in the longer run. Among professionals and organisations that support autistic people, this project promoted a better knowledge about the situation of young autistic people and efficient inclusion methodologies.
The project delivered a pilot training for six youth workers from two organisations (from Spain to Cyprus and vice-versa), with a summer camp taking place in Spain, who then used their newly acquired competences to enhance their practice in non-formal learning. Over 100 children directly benefited from the technical competences acquired by the youth workers in their training exchanges, as well as more generally families and communities across the EU member states that the NAATE project works in.
The NAATE partners came from three EU Member States – providing autism-specific services or educational support for learners with additional support needs – and had a wide range of skills. The project coordinator, Asociación Mi Hijo y Yo (Spain) worked closely with other partners, such as: Autism-Europe (Belgium) and the Center of Development and Support for Children and Teenagers – Autism Assessment Support Practice – AASP (Cyprus).
About the Erasmus+ Programme
Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.