What is the first thing one does when discovering one and many of one’s family is autistic? Well, most people would do some research. Unfortunately this is fraught with danger when it comes to autism. There are so many fallacies and misconceptions all over the internet that it would be difficult to come away from that research not feeling like you are all doomed, your children will be forever unemployed and they need training to be ‘normal’ for them to have any hope. After reading a few dire books and many blog posts (I was yet to discover all the fantastic blogs written by autistic people), I hit the jackpot and accidentally came across the Autism MA at Sheffield Hallam. I sat in my first teaching session within a couple of weeks of enquiring as a new year was just about to start. It all happened very quickly and I had no clue at the time how much I would benefit from the course. It turned out to be a refreshing change from all the negativity and blame to which autistic people and their carers are usually exposed.
Some of the most important concepts I have been taught are: critical thinking – the first module is all about critiquing the theories of autism, many of which were new to me; and the social model of disability – this was a revelation and it enabled me to see that my difficulties are not my fault. I have to cope with poorly designed environments and the best way to help myself is to change my environment; and research skills as I am currently doing my first mini research project.
Since I started this MA and we got our diagnoses, my family has had to make many big life changes. I think we have made better decisions than we would have if I hadn’t learned to reject the medical model. We will all reap the benefits in the long term. It has been very useful having a supportive network of people around me. I have made many contacts and friends via the masters and online, including other autistic people and people with lots of experience in schools (very useful when your children are autistic).
See Me At…
First of its kind Autism Awareness Fun Fair and Gala Nite
Pamber Heath Memorial Hall, Pamber Heath, RG26 3TQ
This day is going to be an educational and inspirational one bringing together families, educators and people from all walks of life and all Abilities to raise autism awareness and to discover the talents, abilities, and capabilities in autism.
Three presenters have been booked for the day
Alex Kelly will present on Autism and Communication
Shona Davison will talk about being autistic and parenting autistic children
Eric Moor, on the general overview on Autism
Kids’ presentation of “Disability Lies in the eyes of the beholder”, poem
Children will have lots to do on the day to showcase their talents and abilities.
You can’t afford to miss this special, first of its kind, Autism AWARENESS fun fair and Gala
The Autism ShowEventCity, Manchester
I’ll be speaking about Autism and ‘Challenging Behaviour’: Who is Challenging Who?
There are some great other autistic speakers too. You can find us in The Hub: Theatre 1.