Ageing With Autism

An account of the Ageing With Autism conference that took place in Norwich on Wednesday.

INTRODUCTION

The title of this post is the same as the event in Norwich on Wednesday at which I was running a stall for NAS West Norfolk. This post tells the story of that day.

THE PRELIMINARIES

This event was organised by ASD Helping Hands, and they invited us to have a stall there, which we accepted. The intention was that I and our branch chair would jointly run the stall. Other factors intervened, meaning that the branch chair could run me over to Norwich with the stuff for the stall, see me set up and then depart, leaving me to travel back by bus. Fortunately someone else very well known to us was able to take the stall stuff back in their car (although not heavy, the display board even when folded and bagged is bulky and awkward – it would have been very difficult taking it back to King’s Lynn on the bus). This meant that I would be running the stall on my own. Having only one person to run the stall was not ideal, but in the context of people who might run an NAS West Norfolk stall if the stall has to be run by a single person I am the right person to it, since at least that does mean the we have an autistic person present (the NAS in NAS West Norfolk stands for National Autistic Society after all).

GETTING THERE

I had arranged to meet the branch chair on Winston Churchill Drive, near her son’s school (as a single male I did not wish to be seen loitering directly outside a school!), which meant a longish walk (I was not paying a bus fare for a journey of that length). I travelled by way of The Walks, the path on from there in between the two academies, various back roads in Gaywood which led in the general direction of Gaywood Park, and then through Gaywood Park to the latest point at which I could join the main road, which I then followed to the roundabout opposite the entrance to the grounds of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and then walked on to Winston Churchill Drive to await the branch chair. Here is a map that is posted opposite where I waited:

Map

The journey from there to Norwich was uneventful, but having located King Street we discovered that it was blocked halfway along its length, so I took the stall stuff and made my way to the venue while the car was parked. Setting the stall up did not take very long, and I was ready for action.

AT THE EVENT

I talked to various people through the day and also picked up information from other stalls at the event. The first person I spoke to was Daphne Rowlands of Children’s Autism Services, who came over not long after I had set up. During an early quiet period I walked round the room looking at the stalls, which were run by (in no particular order):

As well as all these organisations, a number of ordinary folk attending the conference came over to speak to me, and we may or may not hear more from them. The last session of the conference ended at 3:00, and at 3:30, with no one having come to my stall for several minutes I decided it was time to pack up (in theory I could have stayed another hour). After accompanying the person who would be temporarily looking after the stall stuff to her car and helping her to load I took the opportunity of being in Norwich to visit the Millennium Library before catching the bus home. I arrived home somewhat more than 11 hours after setting off. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are the photographs I took at the event (and a couple taken later in the day).

Agenda
The agenda for the conference.
Thomas
My personal sheet, attached to the NASWN notice board
Acrostic
The NASWN acrostic
Allotment 1
The first of two pieces about our allotment

Allotment 2

NASWN
The whole NASWN stall.

alphaASD helping handsRespectrumRespectrum2StallsStalls2Stalls3Fish pic

Carpet Pattern 2
The patterns in the carpet caught my attention (based on fingerprints?)

Carpet patternCarpet patternsCarpet

Milestone
An unusual signpost in Norwich

Numerous Neurodiversity Nuggets

Links to some important pieces about neurodiversity, and a few photographs at the end.

INTRODUCTION

This one is mainly a sharing post, before I finish with some of my photos. As always links will be in bold and in a different colour from the surrounding text. However, before moving on I give a special mention to Eve Hinson of americanbadassactivists who signposted me to a lot of the links I share below.

A SILENT WAVE SPECIAL

We start with an old favourite, Laina over at thesilentwaveblog, who has produced a gem of a post titled “15 More things not to say (or do) to an (this) Asperger’s / autistic person“. Here to whet your appetite is her first point:

1 – “Oh, you must be high-functioning.”

Please–Don’t Be That Person.  Any sentence containing “you must be” is an assumption, and you know what They Say about the word “assume” and its spelling and all that.

If that weren’t filled enough to the brim with potential land mines, let’s factor in the sheer wrong-ness of the statement.  Maybe I’m functioning OK today.  And maybe, so are you.  All is calm, all is bright.

But now, let’s stress the human system.  Kind of like building an epic metropolis on SimCity and then tearing it down with Godzilla or something.

If the human system encounters a Godzilla attack that is destructive enough or lasts long enough, the system will suffer.  It might even destabilize.

By assuming I’m “high-functioning” (whatever that even means anymore), people who say stuff like this are, by comparison, speaking poorly of those who act differently.  Which, on many days, includes me.  

Not only that, but they’re undermining the sheer force of will (and luck) it often takes for me to suppress my natural self and create a likable Pseudo-Me that gets past the social metal detectors.

Please, never make assumptions, never put anyone else down (even if it’s disguised as a compliment to my face), and never underestimate the energy it takes for me to persuade the world to accept me. 

MUSEUM VISITING THE
“ART OF AUTISM” WAY

The Art of Autism website is a regular source of good material, and this piece, by Julie Blair is no exception. It is chock full of good advice on how to make a museum visit really work. Cited at the end of it is Lisa Jo Ruddy of autisminthemuseum which I also recommend. 

NEUROCOSMOPOLITANISM

This section is one that I owe to Eve Hinson (see intro) – it was one of her posts that put me on to Nick Walker’s site, neurocosmopolitanism. I offer you four golden nuggets from this site and urge you to do some more exploring of your own:

  1. Neuro-what? – Nick’s opening post, in which he sets the scene for what is to follow and defines neurocosmopolitanism (a word of his own coinage). Here is a quote:
    Neurocosmopolitanism goes beyond this baseline of acceptance, as cosmopolitanism goes beyond mere tolerance of cultural differences. The neurocosmopolitan seeks to actively explore, engage with, and cultivate human neurodiversity and its creative potentials, in a spirit of humility, respect, and continual openness to learning and transformation.
  2. Throw Away the Master’s Tools: Liberating Ourselves from the Pathology Paradigm – In which Nick attacks what he calls “The Pathology Paradigm” and seeks to replace it with “The Neurodiversity Paradigm”:

    The Neurodiversity Paradigm

    Here’s how I’d articulate the fundamental principles of the neurodiversity paradigm:

    1. Neurodiversity – the diversity of brains and minds – is a natural, healthy, and valuable form of human diversity.
    2. There is no “normal” or “right” style of human brain or human mind, any more than there is one “normal” or “right” ethnicity, gender, or culture.
    3. The social dynamics that manifest in regard to neurodiversity are similar to the social dynamics that manifest in regard to other forms of human diversity (e.g., diversity of race, culture, gender, or sexual orientation). These dynamics include the dynamics of social power relations – the dynamics of social inequality, privilege, and oppression – as well as the dynamics by which diversity, when embraced, acts as a source of creative potential within a group or society.

  3. What is Autism? In which Nick sets out to provide an introductory definition of Autism. Here is paragraph 1 of his outline:
    Autism is a genetically-based human neurological variant. The complex set of interrelated characteristics that distinguish autistic neurology from non-autistic neurology is not yet fully understood, but current evidence indicates that the central distinction is that autistic brains are characterized by particularly high levels of synaptic connectivity and responsiveness. This tends to make the autistic individual’s subjective experience more intense and chaotic than that of non-autistic individuals: on both the sensorimotor and cognitive levels, the autistic mind tends to register more information, and the impact of each bit of information tends to be both stronger and less predictable.
  4. Guiding Principles for a Course on Autism – Precisely what this title suggests. I quote the closing paragraph of principal 1:
    So a good course on autism should actively and uncompromisingly promote the neurodiversity paradigm, just as a good African-American Studies course is actively and uncompromisingly anti-racist. Work based in the pathology paradigm, if it’s assigned at all, should be assigned only so that the instructor and students can critique it in order to hone the students’ skills at recognizing and critiquing such work.

IDENTITY FIRST/ PERSON FIRST

This one comes from Autism, Or Something Like It. Titled ““Autism Parent” and the Horrible Duplicity of the “Autism” Label” it explains why the designation autistic person, which happens to be preferred by the vast majority of #actuallyautistic people, is preferable to so-called ‘person first’ terminology. I quote three key paragraphs below:

As for me, I’ve been pretty black and white about my stance on this. Autism is not a set of behaviours, nor is it defined by the inability to perform tasks. Autism is a neurological difference, present at birth and scripted into genetic codes (for more on the definition of Autism that we use in our household, please see this fantastic post, What Is Autism?, by Nick Walker).


So when I say that Sam is Autistic, I am neither defining him by what he can do or what he can’t do; I am describing him by how his brain (probably the most fundamental part of who he is as a human being) functions and by how this set of differences sets him apart from people who are not Autistic.

And…

Unfortunately, in many cases, the zealous movement of ‘person first language’ actually reenforces that which it is trying to combat. By stating repeatedly that Autism is a (implied ‘negative’) label and should not “define” our children, what is inherently being done is underscoring the idea that Autism is something that should be perceived as ‘deviant’, as opposed to a naturally occurring divergence from normal.

MYTHBUSTERS (AUTISM VERSION)

I end the sharing part of this post with a piece presented in comic strip form on everyday feminism, titled “8 Things You Were Probably Taught About Autism That Are Completely Wrong“. I hope you will visit the post and sample all eight of it’s parts. As an aperitif here is number 3:

AS 3

PHOTOGRAPHS

wagtailGreyfriarsDevice, greyfriarsGuanock Gate 1Guanock Gate 2Blackbirdspider1spider 2Spider 3Bird

 

 

About Autism

Some important autism themed pieces and a few of my photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I have several important links relating to autism to share with you, and I urge you to continue that sharing process. Just to remind my readers I am #actuallyautistic, and also branch secretary of the National Autistic Society’s West Norfolk branch, and in that latter capacity I will conclude this introduction by reminding you of NAS’s catchline:

UNTIL EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS

A NOTE ON ATTRIBUTIONS

I found some of these pieces by way of people other than the original author. In such cases as well as crediting the actual author I also intend to mention the person who gave me the tip off. If you seen an underlining anywhere it is a link, and those links that are body text will be in a colour other than black to further highlight them.

INCLUSIVE AUTISTIC TRAITSAUTISTICALITY

This piece was brought to my attention when the Neurodivergent Rebel reblogged it. It is a long piece, but very readable and absolutely bang on the money. The list itself is too long to quote here, but the screenshot below which explains the problems that the post goes on to address brilliantly is a good start:

IAT

THE LEFEVER BIKE RIDE

Paul and Jamie Lefever recently undertook a sponsored cycle ride from King’s Lynn to the National Autistic Society’s HQ in London, a distance of 118 miles. A full account, under the title “11-year-old Jamie cycles 118 miles for our charity (4 September 2017)” is available on the NAS website.

Jamie Lefever.

ABA THERAPISTS BUSTED

This piece, written by Amy Sequenzia, a well known autistic person and advocate for autism, was originally posted on the autismwomensnetwork under the self explanatory title “ABA Providers Making Fun of Autistic People“. I include a graphic from this post below:

Image is a photo of a group of human figure-shaped wooden pegs clustered to the left and a single wooden peg standing off to the right. Text says,
Image is a photo of a group of human figure-shaped wooden pegs clustered to the left and a single wooden peg standing off to the right. Text says, “It is about how ABA “therapists” REALLY see Autistics. It is about them making fun of us because they see us as broken and hopeless. -Amy Sequenzia, autismwomensnetwork.org”

 PREPARING AN AUTISM FRIENDLY SECONDARY CLASSROOM

With the new school year just getting underway, Lynn McCann of Reachout ASC has published a very informative and constructive piece under the title “Preparing an autism friendly secondary classroom“. 

AN AUTISM RELATED TWEET

While preparing this post I saw the following tweet, from Paul Isaacs, so here it is:

WEB RESOURCES FROM THE NEURODIVERGENT REBEL

I end the post with something I have touched on before. Previously I only included the email address for those who wanted to add to the list. This time I include the list as well:

web resources

This is a growing list. Please send suggestions to NeurodivergentRebel@gmail.com

PHOTOGRAPHS

As always, I end this post with some of my own photographs:

wagtail in pigeon's shadow
The pigeon in the background helps to show how tiny this wagtail is.

Squirrel

climbing squirrel
No I have not rotated this shot – the squirrel really is on a vertical tree trunk.

high tide and sunset

Rathskellar and Hanse House
This shot shows Hanse House and the Rathskellar, the latter of which is hosting a charity beer festival this weekend.

Marriott'sPlaques

27 King Street
I was due to steward at 11-13 King Street between 12 and 2PM on Heritage Open Day, but this has now been changed to 27 King Street, which is this fine building.

27 King Street - plaque

EIFCA boat 2
The Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Auhtority.
Cockler and research boat
The cockling boat Baden Powell and a Fisheries Research vessel.

Serene DawnCormorants and West Lynn ChurchCormorants 6 (1)Cormorants and gullsPC

 

What is Autism?

Some thoughts about autism provoked in a good way by anonymouslyautistic and a bad way by the folk at magiquiz.

INTRODUCTION

I am not going to attempt a scientific answer to the question in my title, merely to lay out some of my own thoughts. The original inspiration for this post was a post produced by anonymouslyautistic, titled “WHAT IS AUTISM – FROM AN AUTISTIC’S PERSPECTIVE” and brought to my attention by americanbadassactivistsAs readers of this blog will be aware I am branch secretary of the National Autistic Society’s West Norfolk branch as well as being autistic. 

 

WHAT AUTISM IS NOT

Among the things that autism is sometimes supposed to be but is not are:

  • A form of mental illness (more on this at the end of this section as you will see). 
  • A disorder
  • Something to be feared or worse still hated
  • Something that needs to be cured

I end this section with an example that absolutely shocked me when I saw it by way of twitter this weekend. I invite readers of this post to collectively identify everything they can find that is wrong with the formulation of the question below:

ableist question

If you click on the image you can go to the quiz, take it yourself and then post a comment (if you choose to do this please follow me in highlighting the problems with this question).

AUTISM AND ME

My unsuitability for front-line customer service and the difficulties I have with communication are down to autism. On the other side of the ledger my eye for detail, reflected in my photography among other things, my mathematical skills, my aptitude for working with computers and several other of my strongest attributes are also due to autism.

I will finish this section by reminding people that different does not necessarily mean less, and that we are autistic people – note the emphasis given to the second part of that designation.

PUZZLES

In this section I provide the solution to one puzzle and offer another for your inspection. Both are mathematical in nature. 

In ‘Midweek Mixture‘ I set the following puzzle:

The above table shows two putative sets of coin toss records, each for one coin tossed thirty times. Which is more like to be genuine based on what you can see?

a) series one
b) series two

To begin the solution, here is the table above with a column added:

coin tosses complete

You will see that the two sets of coin toss lists in the original problem were made up, but if you look at the results for the set of coin tosses I actually performed you will note that it looks much more like series two than series one – randomness is clumpier than we intuitively expect (the idea for this problem came from a book by Natalie Angier, in which she tells the story of a teacher who uses an experiment in which half of her class are assigned the task of inventing a series of coin tosses, and half of actually tossing coins and recording the result, while the teacher goes out of the room – and nearly always the teacher can tell the real from the fake). 

My new problem comes from the mathematical website brilliant:

octagon

PHOTOGRAPHS

As usual I end this post with some photographs, in this case featuring a family of swans I saw swimming along the Gaywood River yesterdary morning:

Swan familySwan family 2Swan family3Swan family 4Swan family 5young swanstwo swansyoung swanwhite swanwhite swan 2white swan 3Swansswans 2Swans 3

 

Autism expert

A truly excellent piece from Michelle Sutton

Michelle Sutton

I saw an advertisement today that was promoting a talk by an autism expert, a man who has an autistic son. A few days ago I saw a link to the website of an autism expert who is a psychologist and researcher. Last week I saw a short video explaining autism made by an autism expert who teaches about autism at a University. The week before I saw series of infographics made by an autism expert who is an author and counsellor to autistic people.

Each time I saw these things, I wondered what it was about the people who are such experts on autism that actually made them experts. So today I’d like to discuss: who is an autism expert and why are they experts?

I’d like to start by thinking about what makes a person an expert on a subject- any subject- just generally speaking.

The definition of…

View original post 1,048 more words

Autism Related Finds

Three autism related links including one featuring a seriously good infographic and one in which I get an honourable mention, and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I was planning to do a major sharing post today, but other factors have intervened, so I am just going to share three autism related pieces. 

AUTISTIC ADULTS WANTED
FOR ART PROJECT

This was posted on messymiscreation and is exactly what you might expect a piece titled “Autistic Adults, I’m seeking your input on an art project” to be. I hope it gets plenty fo responses.

AN INFORGAPHIC ON DIVERSITY

This is an example of why Erin Human is a firm favourite of mine. This post has wonderful title: “Diversity is Beautiful“. Below is a screenshot of the feature infographic. I urge all of you to visit the original and read the accompanying text. 

Screenshot 2017-08-20 at 6.20.19 PM

NAS WEST NORFOLK OFFICIAL POST ABOUT THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY

Our vice-chair Rachel Meerwald with some input from the rest of the committee created a post for our website about this event, which you can see here. Below is a screenshot of the end of the piece (my reasons for choosing this section will be instantly apparent!).

Website10thAnn

A FEW FINAL PHOTOGRAPHS

CGs

CG
This is either an Iceland Gull or a Glaucous Gull (they have very similar colouring).

Moorhen and algaeMoorhen

RMC
The Red Mount Chapel, a sprightly 600 year old
All Saints 3
These last two shots are of All Saints Church, reckoned to be the oldest in King’s Lynn, which means that ;parts of it date back a thousand years.

All Saints 2

 

A Couple of Announcements

An announcement, a warning and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I am planning a major blog post for tomorrow morning, but there are a couple of things I wish to share now.

HERITAGE OPEN DAY

Heritage Open Day 2017 is on Sunday September 10, and as usual many King’s Lynn buildings will be opening their doors for the occasion. This year I will be among the volunteers. I will be stewarding at 11-13 King Street between 12 and 2PM. Here are a few pictures of the place taken today:

11-13 King Street
11-13 King Street, where I will be stewarding from 12 to 2PM on Heritage Open Day.

PassageBeyond the passage

A WARNING FROM AMERICA

There is an online magazine called Autism Parenting Magazine. Amy Sequenzia, a very well known autistic person and autism advocate has had a very bad experience with them recently, as has one of her friends. I found out about this from americanbadassactivists, who put up a post linking to Amy’s original, which appears on the Autism Women’s Network. As someone who is both autistic and heavily involved witha charity that helps autistic people I am shocked by the attitudes and behaviour of the people who run this online magazine. Below, in screenshot form, is some of the detail from Amy’s piece:

BNW

A POSITIVE ENDING AND PHOTOGRAPHS

I always like to end my posts with pictures, but before I do here is a link to something much more positive than the last piece I linked to. This piece, from Science Whys is titled “We Are Family” and it ends with a wonderful quote from Maya Angelou: “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

Now for those photographs:

CV entire
The Vancouver statue (3 images)

CV statueCV plaque

Baden Powell 1
A double ended cockling boat, the Baden Powell, currently moored at the jetty near Marriott’s Warehouse (four images)

Baden Poweel sheetBaden Powell namePennant2Flying gull and ferries

Swallow
Swallows often fly over the Nar outfall, but capturing them is hard due to their sheer speed.