Thursday, 1 September 2011

Training and Meditation Retreat

Welcome back to Adventures with Autism Works. First of all, apologies that there hasn't been a blog for the last two weeks. This has been due to a combination of being in training one week and then giving training the next. I guess this shows the degree of variation that my role involves. It is a nice balance to learn new and useful skills as well as pass on knowledge and experience to aid the learning of ESPA's students. Tomorrow, I am off on meditation retreat for a week at the Samatha Centre in Powys, Wales.

One of my new responsibilities as Operations Manager is to manage the petty cash. ESPA's staff have introduced me to the system that they use for recording such small expenses, and were quick to notice that we go through quite a lot of milk! With a little practice, I feel that I have managed to get the hang of it. It is often easy to see new duties or responsibilities as an extra burden, but for me, doing this task is a good way to 'switch off' from my main tasks of continuing with the Operational Manual, before revisiting it from a refreshed perspective, similar to what I will hopefully find from when I come back from meditation retreat in a week's time.

The following week, I gave a lecture at Sunderland University as part of ESPA's training week, which was a fun experience. Prior to my part, Peter gave a talk about the Databridge project, an online system being implemented at ESPA where information can be recorded digitally, thus minimising the use of paper. Peter mentioned that he had given the same talk two years ago, before I started at Autism Works, and he asked the audience if they were there two years ago and just about everyone put their hands up. He then said that they would probably find my talk more interesting and entertaining providing I didn't mention Sooty or Timmy Mallett! I found Peter's talk entertaining and quite innovative for someone who wasn't there two years ago, especially with some of the things that ESPA staff can record on Databridge of observations on individual student's learning. Such a system could also be used effectively when looking at reasonable adjustments for employees at Autism Works.

The talk on the databridge project by Peter then fed effectively into my part. Often, when talking about Asperger's Syndrome in education, I focus on how effective observation is often helpful in being able to find student strengths as well as weaknesses to be aware of. Such detail can be recorded onto the Databridge system so that when different members of staff are working with an individual student, they have the necessary information at hand in case anything occurs, including understanding why a particular student may react in such a way. A problem that I had and many others growing up with undiagnosed Asperger's Syndrome in mainstream school no doubt had was that different teachers would often see two or maybe three students in one. Teachers of the student's stronger subject may see the student as 'gifted' while teachers of their weaker subjects may see the student as 'backward'.

My next blog entry will come when I return from meditation retreat. Rather than a break from work and from my normal life, the retreat is a way of stepping back from the flow, detaching myself from the constraints and responsibilities that I am used to. Hopefully, when I come back I will be able to approach my duties at Autism Works from a refreshed perspective, including being able to see detail that I may have missed through becoming caught up in responsibility, which will hopefully enhance the upcoming conferences speeches I have later this month, including the World Autism Organisation (WAO) Conference at the Stadium of Light. To find out more about this, please visit the conference's official site clicking here 

The WAO conference will also give us the chance to learn about developments in adult autism services in places as diverse as Latin America, South Africa and the Arab world. There may well be some things from such diverse cultures that will benefit Autism Works, as much as we may have something that could help them. Stay tuned to Adventures with Autism Works to find out how this unfolds!

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