As you may have seen, we have been blitzing the social networks to publicize Autism Works and we would like to say a big thank you first of all to those who have visited our Facebook page, clicked like and suggested it to friends. As you may recall from my previous blog entry, I talked about procrastination, and how mindfulness practice can help overcome it. This week however, I have found that I still have much work to do in relation to procrastination regarding social networking sites!
Though I have a Facebook account, I have never been a big user and only really used it previously to keep in touch with people, rather than letting the world know whenever I am having a cup of tea! But since this job involves far higher use of social networking sites in a professional way than my previous post where access to the social networks was denied in relation to handling of sensitive information, I have had to adapt to a different use of communication and marketing outside of my comfort zone. It will take me a bit of time to get use to the social networking world in a professional way, not least because one often has to be careful about what they do. One slip of the finger could very easily mean public humiliation for yourself or others when you are least aware.
This aspect of using social networking sites, as well as the disconnectedness that those of us strongly dependent on the social networks would likely experience without them, can also help to understand the awkwardness the autism and Asperger's Syndrome can present to the neurotypical world. It is not often easy for people with Asperger's Syndrome to understand where they are breaking the unwritten rules of social interaction or behaviour, including being able to understand possible consequences that their actions, in both online and physical social environments.
On Monday, the world will hopefully understand how it may actually feel to be a person on the autistic spectrum in terms of disconnectedness that non-access to social networking sites can present. There has been mixed enthusiasm for the Communication Shutdown campaign within the autistic community with some feeling that they can't do without social networks for a day as they are the only communication tools within which they feel comfortable. But I guess the important aspect of Communication Shutdown that we need to remember, especially those of us on the autistic spectrum (including myself) need to remember that the purpose of this campaign is to create an awareness within the neurotypical population of what it could be like to be on the autistic spectrum, thus hopefully gaining an appreciation of our perspectives and needs.
Elsewhere at Autism Works, in addition to the interest we seem to building up from on Facebook (still early days), we also have several high-profile IT companies interested in working with us, as well as beginning to generate interest from media and politicians. Watch out for us in the Sunderland Echo and the Shields Gazette and on BBC Radio Newcastle when Communication Shutdown goes ahead on Monday, and keep watching this space for further developments and adventures in Autism Works.
PS We would also like to thank Garry Burge in Brisbane, Queensland, for helping us with our Facebook campaign as well as getting us recognised internationally