On Monday the Theatre Royal Norwich, located right in the heart of that fine city, played host to “Autism Postive”, an event organised by Autism Anglia. This post is about my experiences at that event, and has been delayed until today because I was exhausted when I arrived back home on Monday evening and was working yesterday. Before I get into the main meat of the post here is a map of central Norwich (I have put a red square around the theatre to highlight it) and a timetable of what was on besides the various stalls people had at the event.
THE JOURNEY IN
I had decided I needed the extra flexibility given by the First Eastern Counties X1 route (as opposed to the Stagecoach X29 route which stops quite early in the evening), so got the 7:51AM bus (I had arranged a meet-up in the foyer with the other person who would be running the NAS West Norfolk stall at approx 10AM). My journey was slightly affected by traffic, and the bus pulled into Norwich bus station only just before 10AM, but it turned out that the traffic affecting my journey was comparatively minor – it would be another 15 minutes or so before the other person arrived. Here are some photos from the journey in…
The set up was further delayed by because Autism Anglia had failed to realise that we would be coming, so we had to wait while space was located for our stall to be set up. This is what our stall looked like once the set up was complete…
Here are close ups of some of the stuff we had on display….
EXPLORING THE EVENT
A combination of late arrival and subsequent delays eliminated the possibility of attending Callum Brazzo’s talk, which I understand was a huge success, but once the stall was set up I had an opportunity to take a look at what other stalls there were.
I got some more pictures a little later after a period covering the stall…
Due to the communication failure mentioned earlier we did not have lunches booked for us as others did, so Karan bought us sandwiches. She then went to a talk given by a friend of hers while I covered the stall for that period. Post lunch there were a couple of sessions I wished to attend, so Karan covered the stall while I did so.
AUTISM AND VOLUNTEERING
I thought that as an autistic person with a lot of experience of volunteering this would be a good session to attend, and I did enjoy it. However, rather than being about autism and volunteering in general, it was touting one particular volunteering organisation who work with autistic people.
Vicki Howling of Volunteering Matters gave the talk, with an assist from one of their volunteers, William Taylor, who talked about his experiences and how valuable it had been to him to become a volunteer.
Here are some pictures from this talk…
However, it was the the final session in the main auditorium that I really wanted to attend, titled…
THE AUTISM CHARTER AND
AIMING TO BE AUTISM FRIENDLY
Anne Ebbage from Autism Anglia opened the session before introducing various people from organisations who were already doing good stuff. Here to set the scene is an outline of the Autism Charter and a picture of the Auttism Friendly logo…
Anne had various other slides to accompany her talk…
The webiste shown above: www.autism-connect.org.uk
AUTISM FRIENDLY COMPANIES
Although these are no presented in strict chronological order, I start with the person who was actually first to be called in this section, Matthew Piper who is Access Manager at the Theatre Royal Norwich itself, who deserve huge thanks for the job they did in hosting this event and for their willingness to stage ‘relaxed performances’. I have a photo of a leaflet about this which will follow this little bit of text – a leaflet I was more than happy to display on our stall when asked. While a ‘relaxed performance’ means a loss of income ion the immediate term because you can only half sell the auditorium, and of course fewer people being there also means that attendant sales are also reduced it is bad thinking to allow this to influence you against putting them on. Matthew Piper was able to provide evidence of people who have come to a ‘relaxed performance’ and subsequently, having managed this have had the confidence to come to ordinary performances.
As well as telling us about what they are doing, the three people from Norwich International Airport were receiving their ‘Autism Friendly Badges’, and a bag full for the rest of their staff. They have an aeroplane that is kept permanently on the ground so that they can give people a sample of the journey through the airport from arriving there to boarding the plane. They told us about a family who have never been able to travel before who having experienced this sample trip through the airport will be going to Lapland this December. I have already linked to the airport’s website, but here is an extra link to their page on special travel assistance.
Having already featured the theatre who were also hosting the event it was time for a cinema to be in the limelight, with Ellie, Acting Manager and also Autism Friendly Screenings Co-ordinator at Cinema City explaining what they do. Cinema City is part of the Picture House group, who were the first cinema company to do autism friendly screenings – the very first was at the Clapham Picture House 10 years ago, while Cinema City have been doing them for two and a half years. What does an autism friendly screening entail?
- No adverts or trailers
- The lights remain up throughout
- The sound is lower than for a standard performance – and can be turned down further at need.
- Quiet spaces are provided.
There are two such screenings coming up at Cinema City: The Lion King on Sunday and Finding Dory in November. As well as the website to which I linked earlier, there is also picturehouseblog.
I have saved to the last Tom Blofeld, who runs BeWILDerwood. In addition to making every effort to ensure accessibility for all to this attraction, autistic groups from schools get admitted free during term time. As with Cinema City they have a blog.
Tom Blofeld, special guest Mildred and to the left as you look Anne Ebbage of Autism Anglia.
WINDING UP AND HEADING HOME
When this session finished it was time to get back to the stall for the final stages of the day. Even at this late stage we got plenty of attention, and we spoke to plenty of people through the day, with many leaflets and contact cards going out. The event was a tremendous success, with lots of information and inspiration on display. Once we had taken down our stall I took the opportunity to visit the library before heading home. Here are some photos from that journey home…
Here are pictures of some of the leaflets that were available at the event…
I have included many links within the text, but these do not belong there, although ebing autism related they do belong in a large post that has been autism related.
The National Autistic Society have a survey running at the moment which you can see here.
Yesterday I saw these two posts, written by sisters (the first, from autism mom, linked to the second), and having read and enjoyed them yesterday, I share them to finish this post…