As the end of June approaches, Autism Wellbeing are looking back on a busy month. Many of you will have celebrated the Queen's Platinum Jubilee this month, but for us, the jewel in the crown was getting our brand new Members Area launched in time for not one, not two, but three Autism Shows!
The team have been working hard to create a Making Sense Online Toolbox that gives our Members access to more than 100 resources where they can search by Topic, Sense, or Theme. The resources cover personal care, school, things I do that may hurt me or others, the weather (yes, we know that some people feel very funny indeed when the sky is grey or it is raining!), health, showing and receiving affection - and much more. Already we have suggestions from members coming in for new topics including school refusal, and picking at skin. Autism Wellbeing's team of professionals are on the case and will be creating these new resources in the coming weeks.
With the Making Sense Online Toolbox finished, the forums set up and the Making Sense of Autism Online Course ready to go, the Members Area was complete. Emma has been working closely with an App designer to ensure our Making Sense App is fully functioning as well as being a great way to record your sensory profile and find tips on regulating yourself and self-care. The App will be added to the other member benefits very soon.
The first Autism Show was in Manchester Central, in a fine old railway building with lots of natural light and red brick walls. Rorie and Emma stood on the stage of the Autism Matters theatre the night before our presentation and familiarised ourselves with the screens, headsets and other tech equipment. Emma asked how we'd know if our presentation was running to time - but no worries, the 140 year old station clock high on the wall below the vaulted ceiling, made sure we kept things on track.
Each of the shows gave us opportunities to listen to some amazing individuals and families, and share our thoughts and insights. There are too many wonderful conversations to mention, where people had those moments where they considered Autistic life from a different viewpoint and uncovered their own, new ideas to try.
Rorie drove Emma and her son Joe to the show in Manchester and we camped outside the city away from the noise, and hustle and bustle of city life. That's not to say we didn't enjoy the city - especially the enormous Waterstones on Deansgate, where Rorie lost himself in a world of books after a day at the Show. Joe enjoyed the bookshop too, and bought himself a map to add to his collection. In fact, we navigated the various motorways and city streets very well, with Rorie's calm demeanour and driving, and Joe's excellent internal GPS and map reading skills!
The following week Emma and Joe headed off from West Wales by bus, train, tube, boat, and on foot. They met up with Rorie and Kate, the two founding directors of Autism Wellbeing CIC at the Excel centre in London, and set up our exhibition stand ready for two more days of meeting people and sharing our work on Sensory Trauma.
Kate designed some new postcards for the London and Birmingham shows, following our success in Manchester. Kate is a highly specialist speech and language therapist as well as a director of Autism Wellbeing - and a fine artist too! Visitors loved the postcards, especially the one about potatoes and the hand-dryer one. These themes are very relatable for many people, who shared their stories of having their proportional responses to distressing sensory experiences mislabelled as over-reactions or over-sensitivity.
Birmingham was our final show of the three and once again we met lots of incredible people. New members signed up, organisations found out about our training and consultancy services, and visitors took away our postcards telling us how they'd be sharing them with friends, grandparents, work places and schools.
Autism Wellbeing are back in Wales now where we are preparing for a day delivering training to social care workforce staff in Powys. We are commissioned to deliver more than 15 different courses to social workers, support workers and other staff. Tomorrow's courses use Emma's extensive experience as a registered manager, and Rorie's background in advocacy and education to deliver a course on "Learning Disability Awareness" in the morning, and "Challenging behaviour and ASD" in the afternoon. Like all our courses, we combine our professional and lived experience to enable participants to take different viewpoints and get a feel of what it is like to experience the world in different ways.
*STOP PRESS* Autism Wellbeing have been awarded funding for a project to support Autistic young women and girls, that explores friendships and relationships. There will be opportunities to create art, share experiences and learn from each other...More details to come!