Autism Acceptance/Appreciation Month

An introduction to Autism Acceptance Month/ Autism Appreciation Month and a few photographs.

INTRODUCTION

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.

AWARENESS

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:

Autistic Bill of Rights.pub

PHOTOGRAPHS

BlackbirdCormorants and flying gullCormorants and gull IICormorants and gull IIICormorants and gull IVCormorants and gullLibraryNar meets OuseSmall bird in branchesswimming gullsWingspan IWingspan IIWingspan IIIWingspan IV

Autism Events V: Saturday in London Part 3

My final blog post about the Anna Kennedy Autism Expo.

INTRODUCTION

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.

The Autistic DadIntroductionScreen 2Career HighlightsFamily BackgroundFamily IIFamily IIIFamily IVFamily V

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.

Sport for confidence

Lyndsey Barrett
Lyndsey Barrett.

In the BeginningThe ProgrammeProgrammeModelContributions and BenefitsPartner contributionsProgramme BenefitsCS1InterventionOutcomesCS2GoalsIntervention and outcomesOOSummary

AN EXCELLENT FINISH

The final talk was from one of the people from Green Board Games (see my first post about this event for more) and although I was very tired by this stage of the day I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Toy talkPicturesdon't dis my abilityThe Strength of ObservationAspieswired differentlySpeakerQuirksSuccess looks different

HOMEWARD BOUND

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.

Hillingdon footbridge
This footbridge is at Hillingdon, one stop out from Uxbridge.
Rayner's Lane buidings III
The station building at Rayners Lane, which functions as a bridge between the platforms as well is one Charles Holden’s most famous.
chilternrailways.co.uk
Chiltern Railways, with which the Metropolitan is closely integrated. Chiltern Railways‘ historical predecessor, the Great Central railway was a creation of Sir Edward Watkin, who also ;played a massive role in the Metropolitan’s history. This train is at Harow-on-the-Hill.
Distant Wembley
A distant view of Wembley Stadium.

 

Autism Events IV: Saturday in London Part 2

Takes my story of the Anna Kennedy Autism Expo up to the end of the first of the talks that I attended.

INTRODUCTION

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:

  1. Autism Events I: Norwich
  2. Autism Events II: Norwich part 2
  3. Autism Events III: Saturday in London Part 1

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…

Autism Heroes

autistic artwork
Autistic artwork.

fidget bed

Oojamabobs
Yes folks – a whole stall devoted to selling fidget/stim toys.

Aspie and me

OT Practice

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. 

Meeting room I
Because of the shape of the meeting room it was equipped with two big screens, one for each half of it.
Paul Isaacs talk
Paul’s talk on the screen.
Ready to go
Paul ready to start his talk, while event organiser Anna Kennedy watches from the corner. She kept all the speakers informed as to how they were doing timewise.
Paul Isaacs
Paul Isaacs speaking

Fruit salad approach

Early years

Autism Fruit Salad

Asperger and Autist brains
Autistic and Aspergian traits.

Brain close-up

Aspie traits
Close up of the Aspergian traits list
Autie traits
Autistic traits close up
Aspinauts
The ones in the middle
Personhood
Although I choose when using such descriptions to refer to myself as an autistic person, with ‘person’ coming after ‘autistic’ I am with Paul in asserting my personhood.
Pauls Books
Paul’s considerable output.

Autism Events II: Norwich part 2

The second in my series of posts about Autism events I have attended recently.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to this second in my series of posts about recent Autism events that I have attended. The opening piece can be seen hereBefore 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:

DallasBpetition

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:

Cupola
This cupola caught my attention.
Research stand
One of the stalls I visited – we had a very positive little discussion
Elephant 1
This elephant is a legacy from what was once a Norwich display of the creatures.

Elephant 2

NADV
Scope and NAS West Norfolk are working together on various projects, and this wristband is a product of one of them (there is also a matching key fob and small button badge). The message, conveyed simply and powerfully is “NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE VISIBLE”

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:

ActivatePSR

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…

Stage 2
The Stage 2 Auditorium, Norwich Theatre Royal
Hexagonal array of bulbs
Using the zoom lens to capture the hexagonal array of bulbs in the overhead lights
Amanda Hind
The title slide.
About Me
The first three slides of the title slide cover the ‘back story’

diagnosisdaughter's diagnosis

Amanda speaking
Amanda Hind speaking

Autistic girlsPeer PressureSoc skills

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.

Autism Events I: Norwich

The first in a series of posts about a couple of autism events that I ahve attemded recently.

INTRODUCTION

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…

TIME LINE OF THE LAST FEW DAYS

  • Thursday daytime: Autism Anglia information sharing event at the Theatre Royal, Norwich.
  • Thursday evening: public meeting on trans liberation at the Vauxhall Community Centre, Norwich
  • Friday daytime: work day.
  • Friday evening: supper at my aunt’s house.
  • Saturday all day: Anna Kennedy Autism Expo at the Eastern Gateway Building, Brunel University, nr Uxbridge

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

Alan
Alan Bicknell speaking

Uniqueness of Autism

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.

Autism Education & Me
These big screens look a lot like giant Ipads, and as I saw when one speaker poked the screen in making a point they also work a bit like giant Ipads – he was a bit discombobulated when the next slide appeared early.
Promethean
Their size is not the only thing about this screens the connects them to giants!
Sian Hutchings
Sian Hutchings

Sian and hatsHelping Autistic StudentsSian's social media

 

Autistic Bill of Rights Shareable Image

Following on from yesterday’s splendid introduction to the Autistic Bill of Rights, stimtheline has now produced this splendid shareable image…

Stim the Line

The Autistic Bill of Rights post that I made earlier has gone over so well, that I thought making an image of it would be a good idea.

These ten “amendments” cover what I see as the most important issues facing our community right now, although these all come from my experiences, which I recognize are not universal. I’d love to get more voices involved, and to put together a community approved Bill of Rights, so if that’s something you’re interested in. or would like to share with a wider audience, please contact me!

Autistic Bill of Rights.pub

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