Over 100 people took part in York Celebrates Autism on Saturday 6th April at Spark York. People were welcomed to a warm, relaxed atmosphere with activities downstairs for folk, including Lego, Duplo, arts and crafts, up-cycling. Some children accessed the garden and many enjoyed the great cafes in the building.
However the highlight was definitely the talks and plays.
Jo Jo Hall shared her autobiographical theatre piece of growing up with autism and moving through to university where she is now. Her learning was that she does not need to be completely defined by autism. She remains the kind and fun person for her friends and family. ‘I was moved by Jo Jo’s play, it really affected me.’
All enjoyed an enlightening talk by Callum Scott outlining evidence from prehistoric times that people with autism were key members of those societies. The skills that many people with autism demonstrate- precision thinking, attention to detail, enhanced memory are seen in the art and tools crafted from 300,00 years ago.
Until recently it was understood that boys with autism outnumbered girls with autism by 4 to 1. More recent understanding suggests the ratio is more likely to be 3:1 or lower. Dr Katja Osswald from The Tuke Centre talked about autism in women and girls The assessments for autism have been developed with a male population and so identify boys. Girls have a different presentation, often camouflaging their challenges and difficulties. Many felt this talk rang true with their own experience.
Rose Anne gave a very honest account of her own journey leading to a late diagnosis of autism. She talked about how the diagnosis answered so many issues she had experienced throughout her life and gave her a chance to move forwards positively. Her resolve and courage shone through her talk.
The update on the transition project based at York University by Dr Lorna Hamilton was very informative . Talking to the specialist teaching team for autism they identified that many young people with Aspergers struggle after they have settled into secondary school, end of year 7 onwards. Their research is focusing on gathering detailed interviews with young people years 6-9. It is great to hear how the universities are help us to understand key issues better, so we can all improve the support we offer at a difficult time.
Sleep for children and adults with autism is known to be a key area of difficulty. The detailed information about why this can be a real problem and advice about things that can make a difference was information and very helpful. Many were taking notes of all the ideas.
The day was rounded off with a delightful performance by young people from ‘Acting Up,’ the Riding Lights theatre company’s club for young people with special educational needs. Romeo and Julie was presented with style and panache and received with much enjoyment and long applause .
Unfortunately we had IT difficulties and the Carpool video of children and young people with autism singing This is Me, so well crafted by Elision, could not be shown. This will be shared wider via the Local Offer and Live Well York websites. Not to be missed! See the video here!
Comments from the audience included ‘That was really helpful’. ‘I learnt so much.’ and ‘when are you holding one again.’
Our thanks to all who presented and performed, who made the day such a success.
Many thanks as well to staff from United Response, Blueberry Academy, Creased Puddle, Elision and members of SEN team and Adult social care in the Local Authority who were delighted to organise the event.
If you would like to see other feedback from the day that was gathered through a survey, click here.