Welcome back to Adventures with Autism Works. While continuing to settle into our new premises in Grey Street, complete with new banners and signage (many thanks to AlphaGraphics for their support) promoting the goals of Autism Works, we have also been out getting the message across the region. First at the Making a Difference event at Durham County Cricket Club's Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street and also covering the project in a lecture to Northumbria University's Autism MA students.
It was a great honour for me to give a talk at The Riverside Cricket Ground, a place that holds so many memories for me in relation to my enjoyment of watching cricket. I have been fortunate to see both exciting home-grown cricketing talent such as Steve Harmison and Paul Collingwood as well as greats of the modern game including Brian Lara and Shane Warne perform in Chester-le-Street. Just being able to do something that I enjoy doing in an arena that such legends have shared gave me such a buzz!
Part of our aim in getting the message across involves pertaining to a term that in a job advert or on an application form can come across as abstract - good communicator at all levels. Such concepts can have so many different meanings and are open to unusual or even bizarre interpretations. Something that Peter and I mentioned to delegates was how a person with Asperger's Syndrome who may interpret such a term literally may suggest that being a good communicator at all levels involves using a megaphone to communicate up so many flights of stairs. Or in relation to the setting, at a cricket ground, it could involve making sure that you did the calling when batting with Geoffrey Boycott or when signalling to the balcony if you were injured and needed a runner!
The following day, I was up at Northumbria University's Coach Lane Campus to give a lecture and workshop to the Autism MA (Hons) students, which I have been doing since the course began back in 2002. What I really like about doing work with the Autism MA (Hons) students is the mixture of different experience, professions and specialisms and seeing this 'fuse' together for the benefit of people on the autistic spectrum. Seeing just how different the thinking and approaches of different backgrounds is fascinating. It was also refreshing to see that they were excited by the Autism Works project, particularly in relation to its ethos on making use of strengths Asperger's Syndrome presents, while looking at ways to make use of this in educational settings.
Lesley Lane, Chief Executive of ESPA, Peter and I would like to express our thanks to Jill Smith, Wendy Balmain and Bev Duncan from the Department of Health for all their efforts in organising the Making a Difference event and the marketing and networking opportunities it provided. In the meantime, be sure to watch this space for further developments at Autism Works.