PUBLIC MEETING ON DISABILITY AND PROTEST AGAINST POTENTIAL CLOSURE OF THE FERMOY UNIT

Accounts of a public meeting about disability and a protest against the possible closure of the Fermoy Unit, enlivened with photographs. Read, enjoy and please share!

INTRODUCTION

I am treating these two events together because my attendance at each was connected, and I talked about one at the other. While I had strong personal reasons for attending both events, I was also motivated by not wanting to be in a position of “when they came for me there was no one left to speak out”. I will deal with the two events in chronological order and at the very end will also share some unrelated photos.

THE PUBLIC MEETING ON DISABILITY

This toom place at the Vauxhall Centre in Norwich on Thursday evening. After speeches from various prominent local campaigners came the keynote speech of the evening. This was Roddy Slorach, author of “The Politics of Disability”, talking about the ideas expounded in his book. After this there was time for contributions from the floor. It was during this period that today’s demonstration was mentioned, and more details provided by me as the second part of my own contribution following mentioning the Positive Autism Awareness Conference of the previous Friday. Here are some photos from that evening for you…

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One of the organizing groups displayed this banner.
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Equal Lives provided this superb display board
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Norfolk DPAC had this on show
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A shot of the platform
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The full platform plus the young woman doing sign language translations for deaf people.

THE PROTEST AGAINST THE POSSIBLE CLOSURE OF THE FERMOY UNIT

I took custody of the National Autistic Society West Norfolk Branch banners and some NAS flags yesterday evening, and worked out a way to set up the banners that was suitable for them being on a march:

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Some string and a couple of old cricket stumps provided my answer to the question of how to make these banners suitable for carrying on a march. The appearance may be less than convincing, but it held up for the duration of the march – job done!

We assembled at the bandstand in The Walks at 12 noon, and Jo Rust who did most of the organizing introduced a few speakers, before we set off on our march around the town. Many people expressed support for us while we marched through town, and at least one person took the trouble to express their gratitude that NAS were represented on the march. The event then finished with a few speeches outside the Majestic Cinema. Although organized by the local Labour Party and the King’s Lynn and District Trades Union Council this march was not a party political event, and Sir Henry Bellingham MP had been invited to attend and to make a speech, an invitation that he spurned. The turnout was excellent, helped by bright sunny weather (yes there was a serious nip to the wind, but this is King’s Lynn after all).

I finish this brief account with a few photos…

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At the bandstand
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A great placard produced by a teenage mental health camapigner
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The same placard
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The NAS West Norfolk banner post-march
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Jo Rust making her final speech of the day.

SOME UNRELATED PHOTOS

I start this section with a photographic message for those who have reached this part of the post…

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My remaining photos are presented as a’tiled mosaic’ – to view an individual image at full size click on it…

NAS West Norfolk and the Fermoy Protest

A plug for Saturday’s protest on behalf of the Fermoy unit, and a brief explanation of NAS West Norfolk’s involvement.

DISCUSSIONS AND DECISIONS

I have made mention of the protest on Saturday against the possible closure of the Fermoy unit previously, but was not able in that post to say anything about NAS West Norfolk involvement as that was still under discussion and I did not wish to be seen as pre-empting that discussion in any way.

The discussion is now resolved and the decision has gone the way I was hoping for. Campaigning on behalf of services needed by autistic people is part of our remit and as such not only will various people from NAS West Norfolk be in attendance on Saturday, we will have the NAS West Norfolk banner with us. Although this protest has been organised by the local Labour Party in conjunction with King’s Lynn District Trades Union Council our presence is not in any way a statement of party political views – we are going to be there because the issue is important to us and not because of who is organizing it.

Before finishing by showing the poster for the event I issue a call: anybody reading this who can get to King’s Lynn on Saturday please do so – let’s make this big!

MH Protest

Positive Autism Awareness Conference

An account of the Positive Autism Awareness Conference staged by NAS West Norfolk yesterday at the Duke’s Head Hotel, King’s Lynn. Read, enjoy and please share.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday NAS West Norfolk held a Positive Autism Awareness Conference at the Duke’s Head Hotel in King’s Lynn, and this post,which will be a major one is all about that event.

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The Dukes Head, where the Positive Autism Awareness Conference took place on April 15th. This photo was constrained by the presence of the Mart. After a fortnight in Lynn, the Mart splits in to two to go to various other places around the country – but it is only in Lynn that you get to see everything.

THE PRELIMINARIES

Some us went to the venue on Thursday evening to do a some preliminary setup work to reduce the amount that needed to be done on the day itself. Here are a few photos from that…

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Adjoining my photographic stand the other stand I would be covering on the day – the NAS stand

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My photographic stand – with a blank space for the laptop

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THE DAY ITSELF

Those of use involved in organizing the event were required to be there by 8AM so that we were ready when the guests started arriving. I arrived bright and early (given that the venue is a five minute walk from my flat so I jolly well should have done!), and got my stall up and running. Here are some photos from before the event started…

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A close ups from the NAS stalll

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An excellent acrostic

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The Speads stall – the young woman running the stall goes by the name of Carly

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Musical Keys

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The seating area, already looking satisfactorily full.

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Almost ready to start.
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Lynda Niles preparing to give the first talk of the day.
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My NAS West Norfolk lanyard.

THE FIRST SESSION

Indefatigable branch chair Karan McKerrow opened the event and explained that the day was about being positive about autism and autistic people, mentioning both myself and Callum and what we were going to be doing during the day. Then it was time for Lynda Niles’ talk. At that stage we were operating without amplification, and I was stood at the back, but I still heard every word that Lynda said. Lynda’s talk was accompanied by slides, which show you what she covered…

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THE BEANBAG INCIDENT

One of the things we had at this event was a ‘dark den’ with a beanbag inside as the floor was quite hard. The den itself survived unscathed, but the beanbag was a different story…

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That is now an ex-beanbag!

CALLUM’S POEM

Callum Brazzo, the other of two autistic adults to be on the committee of NAS West Norfolk, recited a poem he had created about autism as the next feature of the conference. I am unable to remember the exact words, but it was a splendid performance, and I sure that if you email Callum he can supply the words (perhaps you could post them in the comments section as well, Callum). Meanwhile, here he is in action…

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MEL BRUCE’S AUTISM FRIENDLY RULES

Clinical psychologist Dr Mel Bruce and a commissioner named Sharon shared the next session, but before I move on to that, Mel has learned some excellent rules for making sessions autism friendly, and here they are…

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Mel Bruce Autism Friendly Guidelines
This shows all off the ‘rules diagrams’ in one picture – a composite of the other two pictures.

MEL AND SHARON 

We had a working microphone by this point, which Mel and Sharon shared, taking it in turns to speak. They introduced the ‘bucket model’ for anxiety of which much more later, talked about their respective jobs and about quite a few other things.

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Sharon speaking, with Mel standing next to her.

LUNCH

Karan had organised food for us, which turned out to be excellent, and thus fortified we were ready for the afternoon session, which opened with the undoubted star speaker of the event…

ANNA KENNEDY OBE

Anna had arrived during lunch and expressed her admiration for my photos. Anna talked about her experiences bringing up two autistic children, going on People’s Strictly (partnered with Robin Windsor) and launching Autism’s Got Talent (and successfully facing down Mr Cowell over that suffix!). Her talk was thoroughly inspiring.

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Anna’s talk was followed by a short break, during which I took this picture…

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My photographic stall, The NAS stall and Karan’s younger son Ciaran (I took this picture at Karan’s specific request)

THE FINAL SESSION:
STAR FISH PLUS AND THE BUCKET MODEL

The last session of the day was another joint effort, by Holly and Michelle,two of Mel’s colleagues at Starfish Plus. Their presentation went into more detail about the ‘bucket model’, and was an excellent way to bring down the curtain on the event…

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MY PHOTOGRAPHIC DISPLAY AND
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE DAY

My photographic stall was very successful. The event itself was a massive success. Not counting us committee members 145 people packed out the venue, every session was interesting and informative  and the stalls were all fantastic.

Many Things

Some pictures, a mention of a DPAC public meeting in Norwich, some stuff about the London Mayoral Elections, and some autism related stuff.

INTRODUCTION

I have many things to cover in this post and some photographs to share.

KING’S LYNN PICS

The first few pictures I shall be sharing are from earlier in the week, but yesterday morning, with Saturday being treated as Sunday because my mother is travelling to Tonbridge today for an 11-week return to teaching, I went for a walk before going to my aunt’s for the journey to East Rudham, and that is where the rest of the pics in this section com from.

 DPAC PUBLIC MEETING IN NORWICH

DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) are holding a public meeting in Norwich on Thursday 21st April. I shall definitely be attending. A jpg of their official poster for this meeting is below:

DPAC Poster

INTERLUDE – EAST RUDHAM

A few things caught my eye while at my parents house for lunch, and here are some pictures from there…

THE LONDON MAYORAL ELECTION

Although it is nearly 17 years since I last called the city home, I have been keeping an eye on the London Mayoral Elections (after all, the fact that I run a London transport themed website is evidence that I still retain some interest in the place), and there have been several interesting developments. The full list of candidates looks like this:

London Mayoral Elections List

Of these, seven have done nothing  to merit being taken seriously, namely David Furness, George Galloway, Paul Golding, Lee Harris, Ankit Love, Sophie Walker and Prince Zylinski. Of these seven, I would hope that Furness and Golding finish at the bottom of the heap, and a severe kicking for Mr Galloway would be no bad thing either. Now to move on to the big five:

Candidates

Peter Whittle is as despicable as one would expect a UKIP candidate to be. Caroline Pidgeon has some good ideas but is standing for a party whose credibility is utterly shot after a disastrous five years in cahoots with the Tories. Sadiq Khan, the bookies favourite, also has some good ideas, and a win for him would be a good result. Sian Berry has run by far the best campaign to date, and has lots of good ideas. To borrow some terminology from the great bridge player and writer of the distant past S J Simon, a win for Sian Berry would be the best possible result for this election, while a win for Sadiq Khan would be in the category of a best result possible. I have left to the last Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative Party candidate. He and has team have run a despicable, divisive, negative campaign and deserve to have a disastrous result. I have two links relating to Mr Goldsmith’s failings:

My first is to a New Statesman piece in which a long-standing Conservative Party activist gives a crushing analysis of everything that is wrong about the Goldsmith campaign. The other link is to a Huffington Post piece regarding a spectacularly inadequate performance by Mr Goldsmith when quizzed about the city of which he wants to be mayor. Goldsmith achieved a risible 5 out of 9. When I took the similar quiz that Huffington Post produced to for  people to measure their own performance I managed 8 out of 9, with the one question I got wrong being about a TV program set in London that  have never watched. Those who follow the link and take the quiz are welcome to comment on their own scores.

IMPORTANT UPCOMING EVENTS

This Friday, April 15th, is the day of NAS West Norfolk’s Positive Autism Awareness Conference, at which I shall be presenting a photographic display. Thursday April 21st as already mentioned is when the DPAC public meeting in Norwich takes place. Wednesday April 27th is James and Sons April auction, for which a full catalogue can be viewed online. On Saturday April 30th I will be attending a training session at the National Autistic Society’s London HQ. This is base closed to Angel station, and therefore within walking distance of King’s Cross, as the map with which I finish this post demonstrates.

NAS

 

Monday Mishmash

A mixed bag of a post, featuring autism, public transport, cricket and photography among others.

INTRODUCTION

I have many things to share with you today about a variety of subjects. Read on and enjoy!

AUTISM

Earlier today I spotted a link on twitter to something posted on assistiveware called “5 Guidelines to Keep in Mind for Autism Acceptance Month”. I recommend you read it in full, and here to tempt you is guideline 3 in all it’s glory (this was the one the resonated most closely with me, though all 5 are on the money and very important:

3

Nothing about us without us.

It is not uncommon to see human interest stories about autism where parents, teachers, speech therapists, and even the school janitor all share their insights on an autistic person and what autism means for him or her. It often seems that the only person who doesn’t get a word in is the subject of the article! The problem here is that nobody is a mind-reader. I’m sure everyone reading this has experienced your parents making mistakes about your thoughts or opinions. Autism doesn’t change that. 

Not every person with autism will be able to respond to interview questions. However, many who could are simply not asked. Others can speak or write, but struggle to answer questions in real time. For these people, simple accommodations like providing written interview questions ahead of time can make a huge difference!

Another common error is to assume that no autistic person will ever read an article about autism. Writers may say we are “unlike you and me,” or “just like you and me,” but only rarely are we included as part of the “us” that makes up the readership. The truth is, there is nowhere where you can safely assume that none of us are present. Autism is an extremely variable condition, where many different combinations of traits can all lead to the same diagnosis. Whatever your audience is, chances are at least a few of us are already in it.

I conclude this section with a brief mention for another twitter find, who also caught my attention by contributing something about autism, Walsingham Support, which happens to lead neatly on to my next section…

TWO NEW PIECES ON WWW.LONDONTU.BE

I had already decided that I was going to put up a post about Mile End on the website when I saw the tweet from Walsingham Support that piqued my interest in them. I noted their address, and guessed that this was a peg on which I might be able to hang a post about Totteridge & Whetstone, which hunch proved correct. Below are links, each accompanied by a picture, to the posts in question:

  1. Totteridge & Whetstone
    Totteridge & Whetstone
  2. Mile End
    Mile End Station

THE WORLD T20 FINAL

The West Indies completed a double in the World T20, the women having romped past the Aussies to take their title. The men’s match between the West Indies and England was a match of twists and turns, which looked like England had it when the West Indies need 19 from the last over. However, Carlos Brathwaite (Brath-ut if you want to pronounce that surname West Indies fashion) then hit four successive sixes off Ben Stokes to give the West Indies victory. I listened to the early stages of this match at my parent’s house after Sunday lunch, on the first day of the year that it was warm enough to sit outside, and while listening and reading a book (Dawkins’ “The Greatest Show on Earth”) I also took some…

PHOTOGRAPHS

A word of warning to those who suffer peculiar phobias, this set of photographs features ladybirds.

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The first nine pictures were taken in King’s Lynn yesterday morning.

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Sunday pudding – a variation on a classic theme – a rhubarb and custard tart – and it tasted at least as good as it looks in this picture!

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My last picture of the day, back in King’s Lynn

All the Bs (And a Follow Up on Autism Awareness Day)

A follow up to my Autism Awareness post, combined with some new photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The first part of my title refers to the fact that as well as birds I have a bee and some butterflies among my camera captures for the day, while the second refers to the fact that today is Autism Awareness Day and gives a nod in this direction.

MORE ON AUTISM AWARENESS DAY

I have some infographics spotted on the internet to share with you and a few links including an important petition. I will start with the petition, launched on change.org by my friend and fellow NAS West Norfolk committee member Callum Brazzo calling for greater representation of non-verbal autistics on TV and in Employment. Please follow this link to sign and share the petition, and let’s build it big!

My next link is to a splendid article posted on indepedent.co.uk which tallies very closely with my own views on autism.

Now to a link and an infographic. The link is to the website of the wonderful Anna Kennedy OBE (who will be at our Positive Autism Awareness Conference on April 15th) and the infographic is her Autism Awareness infographic:

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Another link and infographic pairing, this time to the National Autistic Society’s TMI campaign, raising awareness of sensory issues:

TMI

The bright light at the south-eastern corner of The Wash is me putting myself on this map.

My remaining infographics come without links, and I present them in pairs, first these two general ones:

I finish this section with two warning infographics for our American friends about an organisation who are widely condemned in the autistic community:

BIRDS, BEES, BUTTERFLIES

In reverse alphabetical order, I start with some butterfly pictures…

Now we have the bee (yay!)…

Now for the rest of my pictures, which mainly feature the other B I mentioned, birds…

 

Autism Awareness Day

This is a post created for Autism Awareness Day. Read, enjoy and please share.

INTRODUCTION

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.

AUTISM AWARENESS

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:

Autism

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.

SPECIAL INTERESTS

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.

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All but the last two of these pictures are from a walk a took yesterday afternoon.

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I have used this once before, but wanted to include a picture showcasing one of my special interests. This one, showing both reverses and the accompanying info is an example of what the auction image should have looked like.
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Anyone who sees this last picture is a worthy recipient of the message!