First of all, we would like to say thank you to everybody who joined us in supporting the Communication Shutdown campaign, even if it felt isolated being without Facebook or Twitter for a day, and I would like personally thank Jonathan Miles and the staff at BBC Radio Newcastle for giving the campaign the recognition we felt it deserved, especially in relation to its effectiveness in raising much-needed global awareness of autism. We would also like to continue to thank those of you who have visited our Facebook page and 'liking' us as well as passing it onto friends.
Within the autistic community, opinion appeared to be largely mixed in terms of whether or not to take part in Communication Shutdown, with some people on the autistic spectrum feeling uneasy about having to do without what they felt were the only social environments they felt comfortable in. As a person with Asperger's Syndrome myself, I can fully understand this, but at the same time it is important to realise that the purpose of the campaign was to give people not on the autistic spectrum an idea of how it may feel to be on the autistic spectrum in relation to social isolation that non-access to the social networks can present, not to be a disadvantage to people on the autistic spectrum.
When speaking on BBC Radio Newcastle earlier in the week, I talked to DJ Jonathan Miles about how it is not only the unconnected feeling that non-access to the social networks can create in relation to how largely dependent on them we have come, but also how a slip of the finger can unintentionally offend other users similar to how in physical social environments, non-awareness of facial expressions can be easily misunderstood. When admitting that he would find it difficult to manage without Facebook and Twitter for a day, Miles also said that we had set ourselves quite a task with Sunderland apparently having the highest number of social network users in the United Kingdom!
It was a great privilege to be interviewed by Jonathan Miles for BBC Radio Newcastle. I had previously met him when he gave me a free pair of binoculars at the Sunderland Air Show earlier this year! The appeal of his show is that it puts a different and often humorous spin on current events, including being concerned about not being able to let people know about his half-eaten cheesecake on Facebook!
Numbers has been something that we have been keeping a close eye on since we created the Autism Works Facebook page, with our 'likes' going up by up to fifty per day. We had initially set ourselves a target of 10,000 likes by January 2011, but with the rate of likes being as it is, we have started to think up more memorable and easily-remembered numbers, how about 11,111 users by 1.1.11?
Be sure to keep circulating our Facebook page through the social networks to help us raise our profile as well as gain further credibility, and watch this space for further developments within Autism Works.