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!”
My final blog post about the Anna Kennedy Autism Expo.
Welcome to the fifth and final installment in my Autism Events series, concluding my account of the Anna Kennedy Autism Expo a week ago yesterday (still to come are some related posts on my London transport themed website and a page on this site bringing everything together).
THREE MORE TALKS
I will handle these talks in exact chronological order, starting with…
THE AUTISTIC DAD
This one was slightly problematic for me, although I welcome another autistic person being given the opportunity to speak. The biggest problem I had lay in his comments about vaccines, which I found particularly hard to stomach given that since he is autistic there is an obvious genetic component to his son’s autism. This talk did not inspire as much as I had hoped, and a week on I do not feel any happier about it.
SPORT FOR CONFIDENCE
This was a wonderful talk by Lyndsey Barrett, a former netball international (she had a very serious illness which nearly killed her, but is now back playing netball to a good level although she has not yet been recalled by England) and founder of the eponymous Sport for Confidence.
Leaving the event I headed back to Uxbridge station, and got a Metropolitan line train into London, arriving at King’s Cross in good time to catch the 18:44, arriving into King’s Lynn at 20:22. Here are a few pics from the return journey, although the battery in my camera was running on fumes by that stage of the day.
Takes my story of the Anna Kennedy Autism Expo up to the end of the first of the talks that I attended.
Welcome to the fourth post in my Autism Events series. This is Part 2 of my coverage of the Anna Kennedy Autism Expo which took place at the Eastern Gateway Building, Brunel University. For those joining the series at this point the previous post are:
This post will cover the remainder of the stalls at the event and the first of the talks that I attended.
AROUND THE HALL
This is a story that will be told largely via photographs…
PAUL ISAACS TALK
Paul is autistic himself, and his talk was both informative and inspiring. Notice that as with the Autism Anglia event in Norwich this event gave autistic voices lots of opportunity to be heard. Here are some pictures from this talk.
Most of this post covers events from a week ago yesterday, but before I get into the main body of it there is on little thing I need to attend to first:
AN AMENDMENT AND AN APOLOGY
For those of you who saw the original version of Autism Events II, you will notice should you revisit it that I have removed many of Amanda Hind’s slides from it. This was at her specific request, on the course of a very friendly twitter exchange. I have never previously been asked to remove photographs of slides from a post, but I fully acknowledge Amanda’s right to make the request, and I acted on it very promptly. This is by way of both explaining why I edited that post after it had been up for a while and apologizing in this blog for publishing more of Amanda’s slides than she was happy to see published.
THE ANNA KENNEDY AUTISM EXPO – GETTING THERE
The event was taking place at Brunel University’s Eastern Gateway building in Uxbridge. This meant getting a train and changing at King’s Cross. The Metropolitan line route from King’s Cross to Uxbridge is more direct than that of the Piccadilly line, and the Metropolitan line platforms take less long to get to from the railway line, so I opted for that route. I also decided that even though it would almost certainly mean not being there for the very start of the event that I would get the 6:54 rather than the 5:54 from King’s Lynn. I will be covering the Metropolitan line element of the journey in detail on my London transportthemed website, but here are some photos from the journey…
The walk from Uxbridge Station to the venue was supposed to take about 25 minutes, but I went the wrong way at first, so it took me a bit longer than that. I arrived at the venue a bit late, but soon got stuck into visiting all the stalls, to see what people were doing and to tell people about myself and NAS West Norfolk. I will now share a few thoughts and photos from a couple of those stalls.
I spoke to two of the people from this company, which creates games aimed specifically at helping SEND children, including autistic children. I got to sample a couple of the games as well – they look very good to me. Please note that the title of this section is formatted as a link to their homepage.
The second in my series of posts about Autism events I have attended recently.
Welcome to this second in my series of posts about recent Autism events that I have attended. The opening piece can be seen here. Before moving on to the main body of the post I include a petition from today. It was posted on change.org, and the screenshot below contains details and functions as a link:
THE STORY SO FAR
During the first post in this series I set out what the series was going to be about, put up a mini-time line of the days covered and started my coverage of the Autism Anglia Information Sharing Event, reaching the end of Sian Hutchings’ talk. This post takes us up to the end of that event. Here are a few pictures from that event:
SESSION 3: ACTIVATE
Just in case anyone was wondering this has nothing to do with the vile Tory offshoot of the same name (an organisation of such vileness that it is known in certain circles as “Active Hate”). This Activate is a very different organisation, devoted to helping vulnerable people. Here are a couple of pictures:
This was a very interesting session and I went to lunch in good spirits. The lunch was excellent – decent sandwiches, crisps and a drink. Then I had one more session to attend.
SESSION 4: AMANDA HIND
Amanda Hind’s session, on Puberty, Sex and Relationships Education and Autistic Girls, was packed full of interesting and important stuff. Before letting my photographs take over, I will say that she is an autistic mother of two autistic children (it was actually her son’s diagnosis that prompted her to investigate on her own behalf) and that she is a fantastic speaker. At her request I am only displaying a handful of the slides…
FINAL ACT – FEEDBACK
One of the things contained in the packs we were each given on arrival at the venue was a feedback form. I filled mine in after this last talk, and suffice to say it was all positive. As I was staying in Norwich for an evening meeting I then decamped to the Millennium Library, very close to the theatre, to unwind for a bit, and prepare myself for the evening. All in all this was a very positive experience, and I left the event in a very good (if tired) frame of mind.
The first in a series of posts about a couple of autism events that I ahve attemded recently.
I have had the good fortune to attend two autism events in the last few days. NAS West Norfolk, of which I am branch secertary funded my attendance at both events, and so I travelled with a bundle of NAS West Norfolk leaflets as well as my own personal cards. This is the first of a series of blog posts I will be writing about these events, and therefore includes a…
I hope that the above makes it clear why I am only just starting this series of posts and why I still have a large number of photos from the last few days to edit.
THE AUTISM ANGLIA EVENT
The bus ran a bit late, which meant that I arrived at the venue later than I would have liked. However, I was in time to get into the first talk I had booked for, Alan Bicknell of Autism Anglia talking about “The Uniqueness of Autism”. I impressed the speaker with three useful interventions – first up responsing to his request for a ‘guess’ as to how many people in the UK were likely to be on the autistic spectrum. I reasoned in Holmesian fashion that given the UK’s overall population and the popularly reckoned instance of autism being 1 in 68 the figure was likely to be somewhere in the region of 1,000,000. I was in the right ball park, with the speaker’s own reckoning being somewhere in the region of 800,000. My second intervention was to identify the author of the the ‘Thomas the Tank Engine‘ stories (Reverend W Awdry – his son Christopher continuing the family tradition). My third and final intervention was in response to his question “Can we all be a little bit autistic?” To which I said a very firm no, and backed this up when asked to expand on that answer by stating that ‘we are all a little bit autistic’ cheapens and demeans the very real difficulties faced by those of who are #actuallyautistic. He thanked me for making those points, and subsequently when I spoke to him after the talk he again thanked me for my contributions.
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM THAT FIRST TALK
SESSION TWO: SIAN HUTCHINGS
Ms Hutchings is autistic herself, and her talk was based around her own life and experiences, before focussing on educating autistic people. This was in the same venue as the first talk I had booked to attend. Sian’s talk was absolutely amazing, and although the photographs with which I end this post give you some basic idea of it, you really had to be there to hear it.
Some technical tips prompted by a post on Yarnandpencil, a wide variety of shares from around the web, including a new facebook page and a petition, a solution to a teaser and some photographs.
I have various things to share with you, and some new pictures to post. I am going to start with…
BLOGGING HINTS: HOW TO REBLOG WITHOUT A REBLOG BUTTON
This section was prompted by a post put up by Tracy at Yarn and Pencilthis morning titled “More WP problems“, and has developed from a comment I posted there. One of the problems she raised there was the ‘disappearing reblog button’ that others have commented on.
The process for reblogging when there is no reblog button is:
Start a new post as though you were going to create something of your own.
Link to the site on which you found the piece you intend to share and of course to the piece itself (use the actual title of the piece for this).
Select a paragraph and/or an image from the original to serve as an ‘appetiser’ (making sure to differentiate the text from your own and/or to ensure that the image is clearly identified as the other person’s work)
If you are using a whole post just to link to one piece turn the comments of on your post – you want to people to visit the original and post any comments they might have there. This last point leads me on to…
A QUICK GUIDE TO TURNING OFF COMMENTS
If your window when creating a post looks like mine, then on the right as you look is a panel of tabs as follows:
Open the ‘More Options’ tab, as indicated by the red arrow above, and you will see…
…Down near the bottom are two check boxes and you want to uncheck the top one of the two where it says “Allow Comments”. Instead of two ticks, shown above, you want it to look like:
1.) Neurodiversity is a natural and valuable form of human diversity.
2.) The idea that there is one “normal” or “healthy” type of brain or mind, or one “right” style of neurocognitive functioning, is a culturally constructed fiction, no more valid (and no more conducive to a healthy society or to the overall well-being of humanity) than the idea that 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 ethnicity, gender, or culture). These dynamics include the dynamics of social power inequalities, and also the dynamics by which diversity, when embraced, acts as a source of creative potential.
Meet John. He’s a wizard at data analytics. His combination of mathematical ability and software development skill is highly unusual. His CV features two master’s degrees, both with honors. An obvious guy for a tech company to scoop up, right?
Until recently, no. Before John ran across a firm that had begun experimenting with alternative approaches to talent, he was unemployed for more than two years. Other companies he had talked with badly needed the skills he possessed. But he couldn’t make it through the hiring process.
In fact, my dear, dear friend, Autism, I love you.
And I am grateful for who you have made me. And that you are there for me when I need you.
Let’s start our journey again, and this time I promise, I’ll try my best to understand what you need from me. Take my hand and let’s tackle the world together.
But please do try and understand what I have to give. That I have limits.
And, dear kind, confusing, Autism, remember this: I love you.
No matter what. Always, forever and a day.
This next link is for those of you who use social media. Libby, who tweets as @LibbyAutism, has expanded her social media profile by creating a facebook page called Liberty – living with autism. Please visit and like the page if you can.
Finally, to end this section, a reminder about the petition on 38 Degreesto save the Respite Unit at Morley House. This petiton, screenshotted below, is now on just over 3,000 signatures, and I urge you all to help us increase that number:
SOLUTION TO SATURDAY’S TEASER
Here is the problem I set you on Saturday:
Here is the answer, followed by a published solution:
This is Stephen Mellor’s highly admired solution:
Well done those of you who have made it to this point! We end, as usual, with some recent photographs:
An account of the 2018 Launch of the National Garden Scheme prefaced by the Autistic Bill of Rights and a petition to save Morley House Respite Unit.
This post in entirely autism focussed, so the text is in #RedInstead. I will build up to the account of the 2018 Launch o the National Garden Scheme, which will occupy most of the post. First, to set the scene for all the follows, stimtheline’sAutistic Bill of Rights:
SAVE MORLEY HOUSE RESPITE UNIT
Morley House Respite Unit plays a vital role in the lives of many autistic people and their families in the West Norfolk area. It is now facing closure. Jessica Kibble, a volunteer with NAS West Norfolk, has created a petition on 38 Degrees against this planned closure. At the moment, less than two full days after launch there are just short of 600 signatures, which is a respectable start, but we need more. Below is a screenshot of the petition homepage, and by clicking it you can sign and share the petition:
THE 2018 LAUNCH OF THE
NATIONAL GARDEN SCHEME
NAS West Norfolk have an allotment/ sensory garden in West Lynn for which we received a grant from the NGS. As beneficiaries we were invited to be present at their 2018 Launch Eventm which took place today at Houghton Hall.
For various reasons the only person able to be present on behalf of NAS West Norfolk was me. Being represented by one person is not ideal, but with that one person being me it did ensure that there was some genuine autistic presence at the event.
The arrangement was that I would catch a bus from King’s Lynn to the point at which the road from Harpley joins the A148, where I would be collected by car and driven up to the hall (many thanks Julia for making the arrangement and Gus for collecting me). I had initially being thinking in terms of the 8:45, arriving at the Harpley turn at approx 9:10 if it runs to time, but last night following a suggestion that this was too early I changed plans to aiming for the 9:45 bus, about which I had certain misgivings (through long experience I have developed Diogenes-esque levels of cynicism as regards British public transport running to time).
I was at the bus station with everything I needed in good time, and, mirabile dictu, the bus arrived when it was supposed to. That unfortunately ended the good news. At Gaywood, rounding the curve near the clock tower, an impatiently driven lorry got too close to the bus and damaged one of the external mirrors. The driver had to inspect the damage to see how serious it was, and that was over ten minutes gone with no prospect of any it being made up in the rest of the journey. Fortunately, my delayed arrival at the Harpley turn was not sufficient to actually make me late for the start of the event (10:30), but it was a closer thing than it should have been.
There was a table for me to set up the NAS West Norfolk display board, leaflets and some of my own personal cards, and refreshments were laid on for free (I consumed some of the sausage rolls, which were excellent, and some ginger cake, and also, having been invited to do so, took some more cake away with me).
Marie Curie Cancer Care were present as major beneficiaries of the NGS, and there was a display showcasing a sensory garden in the Dereham area. Julia, gracious host of our 10th birthday Garden Party, introduced the speeches. There were four speeches by people from Marie Curie Cancer Care, and at the end Lord Cholmondeley (pronounced as ‘chumly’), owner of Houghton Hall, said a few words.
In her role introducing the speeches Julia had very kindly mentioned the NAS West Norfolk presence, and many people came to the stall to find out more. Of course this was delightful, but it was also challenging (though I am fairly confident that the only person present who knew just how challenging I was finding it was me). Our branch chair Karan had hoped to be present for the last stages of the event, which would enable her to give me a lift back and to collect the display board for Friday, when a visitng speaker will be giving talks on autism and puberty at a venue near the Hardwick Industrial Estate (unless something else intervenes I will be present for the evening talk). She arrived at about quarter to twelve, which gave me an opportunity to look at the gardens.
The journey home had a delayed start, because the field in which visitors cars were parked proved to be too muddy for most of said vehicles to handle. Karan’s car was one of those that needed a tractor-assisted start (I will endeavour to remember this next time I find myself travelling behind a slow-moving farm vehicle!). One underway however, our return journey passed without incident.