Today is Autism Awareness day. Therefore there will be a lot about autism, some from autistic people, some from autism advocates etc. This is my first offering of the day, and I shall start with…
AUTISM AND ME – A TIMELINE
Of course, since I have written about all these things before many of my readers already know a good deal of this. Autism is lifelong, but not always diagnosed as early as it should be (indeed there are still problems in my part of the world with people waiting literally years for a diagnosis). Thus although I am a forty year old autistic person my timeline spans less than ten of those years…
- Late 2006 – Diagnosed at Cambridge Lifespan Asperger Support Services
- 2007 became involved with Asperger East Anglia
- 2007 took part in a research project relating to autism for the first time (I still do so on a regular basis)
- 2008-9 Worked with Asperger East Anglia full-timers and some local volunteers to establish a support group in King’s Lynn
- 2011 was appointed group leader of the King’s Lynn support group and coincidental with that launched this blog.
- 2012 Funding cuts forced the King’s Lynn support group to go it alone, which we did to the best of our abilities
- 2013 The group had a meeting room at the local football club, though the most significant event of this year for me personally was in April when I got the first paid job I had since being diagnosed (the same job I am still in today).
- 2014 the King’s Lynn Asperger Support Society as the group was by then known lost its meeting room and made do with meeting where we could. On October 24th of that year I launched a personal twitter account, @aspitweets, which now has just over 3,500 followers.
- 2015 After months of falling attendances, I finally conceded defeat over KLASS, which when I finally held up my hands had survived on no funding of any kind for 34 months. Subsequently I found out about an awareness event that the West Norfolk branch of the National Autistic Society were holding within walking distance of my home and went along to learn more, joined the group and was subsequently given a place on the committee.
- 2016 Will be helping to run NAS West Norfolk’s Positive Autism Awareness Conference on April 15th, at which I will also be putting on a photographic display. Also, having attended and enjoyed AutismCon 2016 and given them detailed feedback, my blog post on the subject will be used for publicity purposes for AutismCon 2017, at which I may well get to put on another photographic display.
While increasing autism awareness is a laudable goal, it is insufficient. In an attempt to help explaining my view of where autism awareness fits I have produced a mini flow-chart to which I will append some words of explanation:
In the UK at least, not many people are actually completely unaware of autism, although their understanding of it and what it means is often limited (sadly in some cases deliberately so). Acceptance, which is the next stage up from understanding is something that far fewer have managed. Inclusion is the final goal, and by inclusion I mean full acceptance of the autistic person complete with foibles, tics, stims et al.
Something that autistic people are well-known for is having special interests. The word obsession with its negative connotations should be avoided in this context. My own special interests include photography, public transport (see www.londontu.be for more on this) and cricket (watching brief only – I never had any aptitude as a player).
PHOTOGRAPHS TO FINISH
Well done all of you have made to this stage, as a reward here are some pictures which between them relate to two of my listed special interests.