The Triple A's are an entirely autism led peer support charity for autistic people. All of our contact staff and volunteers are autistic, and we are run by autists*. This is for two reasons. Firstly, because a lot of us have felt judged in the past, even by those who are trying to help. But if everyone in the room is autistic, there's a lot less pressure to try to perform to some mythical set of confusing standards. There's less worry about what people will think if one of us becomes overwhelmed than there is in another group.
Secondly, we are run by autists because that means there's a much greater chance of understanding the issues faced by someone with autism. We'll never say that we automatically understand how someone's autism affects someone – but we do understand that their outlook is going to be different, and we understand how draining it can be trying to adapt our own viewpoint to the outside world.
What we do is primarily social – we provide people with autism a place where we can interact with others, in a way that is reasonably natural. We do not sit people in assigned seats and with prescribed activities – part of our groups is that people become more aware of how they want to interact, and begin to feel like they are actually allowed to enjoy being in a social setting. This has led to a number of people who previously had limited willingness or ability to interact with a group becoming far less isolated, and is allowing them to great social bonds of their own.
It's important to note that we do not believe that this process is quick. The process of helping someone who feels unable to leave their room into being able to cope with being out in everyday society with a group can be long in itself, and then the path from that to being able to overcome anxiety by ourselves can be even longer. We believe that autists can walk that path, but pushing too quickly can be just as harmful as not doing anything at all.
The Triple As believe very strongly that autists need to be allowed to develop freedom of choice – many of us have had it taken away from us, either through bullying and anxiety, or through people restricting our options through concern. One of the main things that we therefore attempt to encourage in people is the willingness (and ability) to make their own choices.
* I use autist rather than "person with autism" or "person on the autistic spectrum" as I believe that since it's a condition that will never go away, it's better to own it than by afraid of it. Many people in the autistic community prefer not to use person first language, but regardless, no offence is intended by the use of autist throughout -Alastair