Friday 22 July 2011

All Singing, All Dancing, All Graduating!

This week at Autism Works has been an eye-opener to talent on the autistic spectrum. Though we are known for software testing and computing talent, one of the beauties of variation within the autistic spectrum is the huge range of different talents of different, unique individuals. This week, the Autism Works team was invited along to one of the best places to see and be entertained by this - the Annual ESPA Graduation Ceremony.

Held at the Tyne Journal Theatre in Newcastle, the Autism Works team joined in with ESPA's celebration of the achievements of their students as well as wishing them the best for the next stage of their lives. After the presentations, the audience, made up largely of parents, relatives and ESPA staff as well as esteemed guests including Sharon Hodgson MP, was then treated to s series of DVDs that the students had made reflecting on their time at ESPA, and how they  felt it had made a positive difference to them. The students though saved the very best of the event for the afternoon, with a set of three different performances all of a different theme, including a tribute to one of the ESPA colleges The South Hill Haunting, followed by Godfather Death and finally, a superb rendition of the musical Chicago, in which some of the ESPA staff took part alongside the students.

It was at this particular event two years ago that Peter Macdonald, the Managing Director at Autism Works, first found out about Specialisterne. Inspired by Specialisterne's success, the idea of replicating the model in the UK occurred to Peter. As I have continued to write about in this blog, we are still technically in the early stages of the company's development, but even so we have come quite some way since this moment of inspiration, particularly now that we have a good team at Autism Works, including appointing our second Test Analyst, Chris Neville-Smith, who just started with us this week and appears to be settling in nicely. With a PhD in Quantum Inorganic Chemistry and a passion for theatre and the arts, Chris adds a very fascinating dimension to the Autism Works team.

Sharon Hodgson, who enjoyed the graduation, was also thrilled to see that we had appointed two Test Analysts. You may remember from previous blog entries that Mrs Hodgson, who is MP Sunderland West and Washington and is also a Shadow Education Minister, came to visit the company earlier this year. Autism Works is grateful for her continued support. Be sure to stay tuned to Adventures with Autism Works for more news of the company's development.

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