Friday 20 July 2012

Double Checking, ESPA Graduation and Autism for Heroes

This week at Autism Works has seen me pick up some important tips when doing functional testing as well as the delight of watching this year's ESPA graduation ceremony at the Tyne Journal Theatre in Newcastle.

As I wrote about in last week's blog entry, at Autism Works we have been testing a mobile phone app and I have been carrying out some functional testing of its links, which I managed to do without missing any errors. However, when checking to make sure that they were correct, it was only after my checking was proofed by my software testing colleagues that there was something that I missed. From this though, I realised the importance of double-checking, which I will make sure I do when working on our next contract.

Though I initially felt a little 'bad' at not spotting something, I do feel some reassurance in that it was only one error out of so many and that one does have to make mistakes to be able to do it right, and that not coming from an IT background together with limited knowledge of IT, in many ways I have a good background for software testing as I am not used to working within IT processes familiar to software developers. With experience, I am sure that I will continue to improve and gain confidence when working on future projects, especially since I enjoyed testing my first mobile app!

Gaining confidence was very much a buzz-term throughout this year's ESPA Graduation. It was the second time that I have had the pleasure of seeing how much ESPA has made a difference to so many students at this event, not just in formal education and successful work placements that many of this year graduates have had but also in terms of independent skills that they feel they have developed, such as using public transport, cooking and many others that most of us take for granted. When starting at ESPA, many of this year's graduates had perhaps either been told that they would 'never be able to do this because they were autistic' or never personally believed they could, but their ESPA experience, including the travel training that the charity provides for its students, has made a huge difference to them to the extent that it has enhanced the quality of their life, including beyond ESPA.

This year though, what was particular delight to see, especially in relation to the work I do, was how the confidence that ESPA students had gained had benefits not only for the students but also for charity. This year has seen another innovation in Autism4Heroes, a unique charity made up of young people with autism from across North East England supported by family and friends who have two missions:

1. To raise as much money for a chosen charity
2. To raise awareness of the potential of people with autism through a variety of performing arts events

This year, their chosen charity is Help for Heroes. In recognition of their hard work, Autism4Heroes have been invited to give a performance at the Catterick Rehabilitation Centre, where injured soldiers receive treatment, which was built using funds from Help the Heroes.

Stack pillar at Marsden Beach, South Shields
Elsewhere, I am now up to ten miles with my training for this year's Bupa Great North Run, running up from Roker to Marsden and back. One of the biggest challenges I am finding with running, especially at this distance is the continuous nature of it, but I am finding that my mindfulness practice is helping me notice the breath during running, including the variation in breath length, so that I can be mindful of when my heart is in need of more air, thus enabling me to continue without stopping. A big thank you to all who have donated to Daisy Chain for whom I am running in aid of so far. For further donations, please visit my sponsorship page at

Autism Works would like to say a huge thank you t Autism4Heroes for their very inspiring work and for what they have raised for Help the Heroes. To hear members of Autism4Heroes discuss their project on BBC radio Newcastle, click here

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