A brief account of today’s Autism Awarenss event at King’s Lynn Library, with some photographs.
Today at 1PM there was a gathering at King’s Lynn Library for World Autism Awareness Day, in which we talked to the library about things they could do to make themselves more accessible to autistic people and in which we got details of an autism friendly youth group that they are starting. As well as ourselves and library staff a young woman from SCIOPE was also present.
AWARENESS IS BARELY THE BEGINNING
Obviously awareness is necessary, but it should not be thought of as a goal or an endpoint – to borrow from a famous quote it is at most the end of the beginning. To be of real value it needs to proceed to acceptance, understanding of our needs and appreciation of our strengths. The library staff seem genuinely committed to helping autistic people, and they listened to all our comments. There was talk of autism friendly hours in the evening, which I think would be an excellent idea.
A CONSTRUCTIVE DAY
I feel that this event was very constructive and potentially valuable. I await practical developments with interest – as an autistic person who is a great supporter of the library I hope to be able remember today as an occasion when things moved in the right direction. I was very glad to be able to attend – as an advocate of “nothing about us without us” I always feel that I should be involved with this sort of thing, and there had been a possibility that my health would prevent that. Fortunately it did not. Now for…
I start with an infographic posted on the NAS Norwich facebook page by Johanna Corbyn which I consider to be excellent:
To set the scene for my own photographs that relate to this event here is the official King’s Library picture, originally posted on their facebook page:
Sarah-Jane covered a vast range of topics in the course of the morning, all relating to girls and autism. There were a couple of interactive bits – one involved describing the previous night’s meal without using any words containing the letter N – a task that required some crafty paraphrasing on my part, as one part of the meal in question for me had been a glass of Pinot Grigio, which I could not describe by name or by the generic white wine. Later there was a party game – she asked various people what they would bring to a party and told them whether they were invited or not – but the test was not what they said they would bring but what body language they used. The third interactive bit as three sets of three as follows:
Things you are good at
Things you are grateful for
Things you enjoy
This was an excellent session, though I was tired by the end of it, and well and truly ready for lunch by the time I arrived home.
I have left my photographs to tell you what they can…
The second post in my personal series about #autisticspecialinterests.
Welcome to my second ‘special interests’ post for the month of May. The first, which set the scene can be seen here. The first post dealt exclusively with London, where I grew up. This post looks wider, although it still deals with events from before I was diagnosed. NB – undiagnosed means just that, not diagnosed – it DOES NOT mean “not autistic”.
This overlaps with the first post, because I visited St Petersburg in 1991. The two week visit I made to that city in 1991 was significant in many ways – it was there that I learned to eat a more varied diet, because I was just mature enough to appreciate that it was a choice between eating what was served or not eating at all and make the best of things. Also, because the family I was staying with were living very close to one of its stations I gained a considerable acquaintanceship withe the St Petersburg Metro, and also experienced the trolleybuses and trams that were a feature of daily life there.
Other than being horrendously overcrowded the St Petersburg Metro was a significant improvement on the London equivalent – a far more frequent service, and no delays. Also the underground portions were much deeper than in London, with often two colossally long escalators (far longer than any London equivalent) between the platform and the surface. This was my first major experience of public transport anywhere other than London.
GOING SOLO 1: SCOTLAND 1993
My first solo holiday took place in the summer of 1993, when I travelled to Scotland for two weeks. I travelled all around Scotland in those two weeks. As well as some seriously scenic journeys on mainline railways (I experienced both the lines the head towards Skye among others) I also made the acquaintance of the Glasgow undeground system (a single, circular route).
This holiday was a splendid experience overall, but a mere curtain raiser for…
A SCANDINAVIAN HOLIDAY
This happened in the following summer., Equipped with a rucksack and a two week rail pass for Norway, Sweden and Finland I started by taking a plane to Gothenburg. From there I travelled north, pausing in Stockholm. From Sundsvall I temporarily abandoned trains to take a boat across to Vaasa in Finland. From Vaasa I headed for Helsinki, and then the longest single journey of the trip, to Narvik, the most northerly railway station in the world. I continued my northerly exploration by bus as far as Tromso, before switching to boat for a journey along the coast to Hammerfest, the northenmost town in Norway. I varied my route back by taking a bus from Hammerfest to Alta (a mistake, this place is the Nordic equivalent of Brandon, only with even less appeal). Back in Narvik I selected a bus to Bodo, Norway’s other northern rail outpost. This decision cost me a night spent on the sgtatiopon platform at Bodo before I could head south to Oslo. From Oslo I headed east to Stockholm, and my last journey of the holiday (other than the flight home) was from Stockholm to Gothenburg.
Not having previously explored any foreign public transort systems in this kind of detail I was highly impressed. Although there are many ways in which Nordic public transport is a vast improvement on British I note a few things in particular:
Comprehensiveness – although the terrain in these countries is much more difficult than anything in Britain pretty much anywhere of any size has some sort of public transport connection.
Integration – there is not much duplication between bus and train routes. The buses tend to cover the routes that the trains do not. The only small flaw I noted in that first visit to these countries was that en route from Helsinki to Narvik we had to disembark at Haparanda on the Finnish side of the Finland/ Sweden border to transfer to Boden on the Swedish side for the last leg of the journey to Narvik, and even that was handled efficiently.
Reliability – never once in these two weeks, nor in my more recent trip to Sweden, did I encounter a service not running precisely when it was supposed to, and there has never been a two week period in my lifetime when one could be in Britain, travelling by public transoort most days, and get that kind of service.
FUTURE POSTS AND PICTURES
My next post in this series will look at public transport in various cities that I have experience of. Here to end are some public transport themed pictures…
The first in a series of posts about #Autisticspecialinterests that will be appearing here during May.
Here as promised is the first of a series of posts I shall be doing about my special interests. I am starting with public transport, and in this post I shall be referring to events that took place long before I was diagnosed as autistic.
GREAT ORMOND STREET HOSPITAL AND THE BIRTH OF A SPECIAL INTEREST
I was a patient in a child psychiatric unit at Great Ormond Street Hospital for over a year in the early 1980s. The trigger for the illness that put me there appears to have been a bout of chickenpox. For the first half of my time there I was an in-patient, at the hospital 24/7, and then when they deemed it safe for me to sent home at nights I was a day patient. Although I cannot remember a time when trains did not interest me, it was during this period that I would say that my special interest in public transport was formed.
My family moved to London in 1979, when I was four, and I have a London Underground map from that time:
Now, here is an edited version, highlighting the two key stations:
Tooting Bec was our local station, just about a mile from our house, while Russell Squareis the station for Great Ormond Street Hospital. My father would take me there in the mornings and pick me up in the afternoons, using London Underground. We took some very bizarre routes, as my fascination grew, which sometimes led to my father getting awkward questions from ticket inspectors (yes folks, in those days London Underground had on-train ticket inspectors).
TEENAGE YEARS – GOING SOLO
In later years I was able to explore on my own, and when I was in my early teens the child rate for a one-day travelcard was only 90p, so I would often go out on a Saturday and explore London transport in detail (I used various local railway lines as well as the Underground, though in those days I did not make much use of buses). It was also in this period that I discovered the London Transport Museum at Covent Garden.
A big moment for me was the opening of The Docklands Light Railway (I travelled on it on its first day of operation way back in 1987, and it was a huge buzz to be there at the start of a new development in public transport). In particular I first developed the method of visiting Greenwich described in this post on www.londontu.be as a teenager, and since the DLR was then pretty much brand spanking new I claim to be the pioneer of that method.
Like most who have been regular users of it I came to despise the Northern Line, and later in my teenage years it was a thing with me to make my excursions without using the Northern line (this meant starting and finishing at one of various railway stations which were walkable from home – Tooting, Streatham Common, Streatham, or Streatham Hill). A frequent finish to my excursions was to take the Hammersmith & City line to Hammersmith, get an eastbound District line train to Earl’s Court and then cross the platform to get a Wimbledon train, finally changing to railway train to Tooting.
At the same time as I was exploring public transport in London to the full I was also learning more about its history and development.
Very late in my teens I became a regular commuter, because after finishing at my local comprehensive I decided to resit my Chemistry ‘A’ Level and do the first year of Maths and Physics ‘A’ Levels at Richmond Upon Thames College of Further Education, whose local station was Twickenham, two stops west of Richmond. I had two regular routes there, either travelling in my mother’s car as far as Baron’s Court (the nearest station to the school she was teaching at in that period), District to Richmond, train to Twickenham, or from home, walk to Balham (about a half-hour walk, perfectly manageable for an 18 year old), get a train to Clapham Junction and change for another train to Twickenham. The fastest trains over the Clapham Junction – Twickenham section were those going to Reading, which did it non-stop. Those trains were also the only ones that still had manually opened and closed doors (two choices folks, either slam the thing, making a monstrous crash, which most people did, or learn, as I did, how the catches worked so that one could shut the door quietly).
When I revisit this series, probably at the weekend, the story will move away from London, as I did, and will indeed go international. To finish for today, here are some old pictures of Tooting Bec Station, taken from the book Bright Underground Spaces:
Setting out my stall for May, including a forthcoming series of posts about my #Autisticspecialinterests
April is behind us, so I am going use this post to set out my stall for May. As a lead up, here is a screenshot of a tweet by Autism Mom:
A NEW SERIES SPECIFICALLY FOR MAY
Eve Reiland of internationalbadassactivistssuggested a theme for #actuallyautistic people for May:#AutisticSpecialInterest – a theme I am more than happy to run with, so, starting tomorrow I will be producing posts dealing with my special interests through the month.
THE EFFECT THAT THE NEW BUSES HAVE ON MY WORK
Those who have read my blog recently will be aware that today was my first day travelling to work on the Lynxnumber 49, which has replaced the Stagecoach X29 route. It runs considerably less frequently, but the buses are comfortable, the staff are friendly, and at the moment it has a score of 1/1 for punctuality, which after Stagecoach feels near miraculous.
AN UPCOMING HOLIDAY
I will be off for a week in Greece, leaving King’s Lynn on Friday May 11th, late in the evening so as to get to Gatwick for the flight to Kalamata, which takes off at 5:40AM. Therefore I will accept that sleep ain’t happening that night, and spend a few hours waiting at the airport. I will arrive back in the early afternoon of Saturday May 19th. I will endeavour to keep up to date with everyone during that period, but there will almost certainly be days on which I do not manage to access the internet.
IMAGING FOR MAY’S AUCTIONS
In May we are having a one-day cigarette card auction, followed by two days of military badges (and these will be on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after I return from holiday). Here to finish things off are some images…
An introduction to Autism Acceptance Month/ Autism Appreciation Month and a few photographs.
Officially April is designated Autism Awareness Month. In this post I will give my view as to why this designation should be rejected and what the alternative, as articulated by autistic people should be.
Firstly the notion of ‘Autism Awareness’ is tainted by the mere fact of who the main organisation pushing it are, who I will not name here. Suffice to say that their many misdeeds include being responsible for the video nasty “I Am Autism”, and that they are associated with the colour blue and with the puzzle piece symbol. I am glad that I am separated from them by the width of an ocean!
Secondly, even if the first point above did not apply, ‘awareness’ is simply not sufficient as a bannerline aim. Awareness does not equate to understanding, and that latter is the barest minimum that is required…
UNDERSTANDING, ACCEPTANCE, APPRECIATION, RESPECT
Understanding of autism is merely a good starting point (and there are ton of places where you can find autistic people writing about autism, some which I shall list later). It needs to lead to acceptance of us for who we are, appreciation of our good points and respect for us as human beings.
PLACES TO LEARN ABOUT AUTISM
This list is not (never in the proverbial million years) exhaustive, but it gives you some good pointers.
#REDINSTEAD, #LIGHTITUPGOLD & THE RAINBOW INFINITY SYMBOL
The organization I refuse to name tells people to #lightitupblue, for which reason that colour is off-limits (except when it appears in photos) to this site at least for the month of April. The first two elements of the title of this section refer to alternatives. This blog is following #RedInstead simply because gold letters don’t really stand out against a white background. The Rainbow Infinity Symbol, a customized version of which heads this blog, while another appears on my personal cards, is an excellent alternative to the discredited puzzle piece for the role of autism symbol. Here courtesy of stimtheline is the Autistic Bill of Rights:
A few recent finds, an solution, a new problem and some photographs.
I finished my posts about the two major autism events I have recently attended ahead schedule, so I am producing an extra post today. This post will contain some autism related links, a solution to the problem I posed on Saturday, a new problem, and a handful of photographs.
On Saturday, in a post titled Setting the Stage for Tomorrow and Monday I set a problem about an email spam filter. I now present the answer, and my favourite of the published solutions, offered by Aaa-Laura Gao Gao.
SOME AUTISM RELATED LINKS
First of all, the last blog-related thing I did yesterday was to create a page containing links to everything that I had posted about the two autism events I recently attended.
Next up come two pieces that tackle the organization known in autistic circles as Autism $peaks or sometimes just A$:
An open letter to A$ co-founder Suzanne Wright from the parent of an autistic child, published on the Autism Womens Networkunder the title “For God’s Sake Stop Speaking“. I quote one paragraph below: Your insistence that your tragic ideas on how autism should be viewed, managed, and treated be forcibly imposed on every country in the world is frightening in its scope and ambition. The very loud horn of the autism apocalypse you keep blowing at the world is sad because there is so very much good you could do. I cannot grasp this hate filled fear mongering in someone who has a neurodivergent grandchild. I would think you would want to use every means at your disposal to insure the world accepts him and supports and accommodations are made for him to actively participate in every community. I can’t help but wonder how he feels about a grandmother who speaks publicly about how difficult his existence is on his mother as you did in your previous unfortunate address to Washington.
Then she goes on to say “I’m also reaching out to fellow parents in pain to remind them to cast off shame,“. Not only an article but an entire book about the pain and shame of having an autistic child. To me, this is a self-centered, retrograde, outmoded idea. If one truly intends to cast off shame, how about starting by not calling it a tantrum, or not offering an explanation that sounds like “he’s broken” followed with “but it’s not my fault, I’m just a martyr of a mother, please recognize that!”