A Visit to the Autism Research Centre

INTRODUCTION

I have a good haul of photographs from today, and some interesting links to share with you, as well as the main story…

ELECTRODES AND FLICKERING IMAGES

Being signed up to the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge’s email alerts I get a lot of details of studies into Autistic Spectrum Conditions for which they need volunteers and being passionate about reducing the ignorance about Autistic Spectrum Conditions that continues to bedevil our world I nearly always agree to take part.

This particular project was to do with responses to visual stimulation and required me to visit Cambridge. My appointment had been arranged for 11AM today, carefully avoiding any clash with work commitments…

GETTING THERE

The train journey from King’s Lynn to Cambridge takes almost exactly an hour, which given that they leave King’s Lynn just before the hour strikes meant that I had to be on the 8:57AM. Arriving at the station in King’s Lynn in very good time, and purchasing my ticket without undue difficulty I was able to take some photos at the recently restored station…

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This blackbird clearly isn't conversant with passenger safety advice!
This blackbird clearly isn’t conversant with passenger safety advice!

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The train approaching.
The train approaching.
This map is inside the train doors - I took the pic en route to finding a seat.
This map is inside the train doors – I took the pic en route to finding a seat.

The train journey was uneventful and (mirabile dictu) ran exactly according to schedule. Although it is far from straightforward to get good photos through a train window one or two of my attempts are worth sharing…

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Ely Cathedral
Ely Cathedral
Boats at Ely
Boats at Ely
At Cambridge, witnessing a service run by Abellio arriving (almost certainly late given their reputation)
At Cambridge, witnessing a service run by Abellio arriving (almost certainly late given their reputation)
The operating company that runs service between London and King's Lynn - no connection to the Great Northern Railway of old which ran services out of London Euston.
The operating company that runs service between London and King’s Lynn – no connection to the Great Northern Railway of old which ran services out of London Euston.

From the station, it was a walk through past the bus stops and on to Brooklands Avenue, which goes straight through to Trumpington Road, picking up some more photos en route…

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Cambridge and its environs are served by an excellent local bus system.
Cambridge and its environs are served by an excellent local bus system.

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AT THE AUTISM RESEARCH CENTRE

Having dallied sufficiently that I would not be crazily early I rang on the doorbell of Douglas House 15 minutes in advance of my appointment time, signed in as requested and waited. It turned out the researcher who should have been conducting the experiments was not around that day, so someone else took charge of me. The preliminaries (paperwork) attended to, it was time to set me up for the tests. This involved me donning an electrode cap (effectively a swimming hat with points for attaching electrodes), each electrode point being filled with a conducting gel before the electrodes could be attached, and then the electrodes being attached. A second set of electrodes were attached around the eyes . The purpose of this get up was to monitor electrical activity in my brain while I responded to various visual stimuli.

Everything, be it lines or proper pictures, was flickering so that I only got fleeting glimpses. There was one set of exercises that involved proper pictures, one that involved viewing arrows and then clicking a button as soon as white box appeared on the screen, and several involving flickering lines.

At the end I was quite relieved when the wires were all detached and I was able to wash the gel (which is water soluble) out of my hair and take my leave.

Although the gel feels cold when it first makes contact with you, and when all the electrodes are fitted to it the cap weighs quite a bit I feel that this set of experiments are no great imposition. If you are 18 or over, have an Autistic Spectrum Condition, feel that you could undergo this and are able to get to Cambridge you could send an email to: Sarah Kaarina Crockford” <skc48@medschl.cam.ac.uk>

GETTING BACK

A combination of the fact that I finished at the Autism Research Centre at 12:15 and that I wasted no time getting back to the station meant that I was able to catch the 12:35 train back to King’s Lynn, and was sat down to a late lunch at 2PM. A last couple of photos…

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LINKS

Just a handful of links for you this time. Firstly, Jayne Linney on the possibility of a National Disability Union. Next Cosmos Up, a reliable source of good stuff on “exiled stars”. My final two links both concern the Great Barrier Reef (surely would feature prominently on anyone’s list of seven natural wonders of the world), one a petition that I urge you to sign and share and one page giving some extra information.

SHARING

i hope that you all enjoyed this post and that you will share it widely. Many thanks.

Author: Thomas

I am branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk and #actuallyautistic (diagnosed 10 years ago at the comparatively advanced age of 31). I am a keen photographer, so that most of my own posts contain photos. I am a keen cricket fan and often write about that subject. I also focus a lot on politics and on nature.

2 thoughts on “A Visit to the Autism Research Centre”

  1. Very nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say
    that I have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed
    and I’m hoping you write again very soon!

    1. Thank you for your kind comments about my blog. As you will have noticed by now I post fairly frequently, and all my posts are advertised on my twitter feed, @aspitweets. I hope you carry on enjoying my posts – and spread the word!

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