Friday, 29 July 2011

A very Wicked show...

The case of the Autistic 12year old boy who was asked to leave a London theatre this week was very unfortunate for many reasons. Firstly, because young Gregor Morris was clearly enjoying the performance of 'Wicked' after a long trip south from Moray. Secondly, because it was not any audience member, but a lighting crew operator who was supposedly disturbed by Gregor's enjoyment of the show. And thirdly, because the Apollo Victoria and the Ambassador Theatre Group which runs this venue appear to really have missed a trick by allegedly being so autism-unfriendly.

I'm sure this sort of thing has happened much more often than is ever reported ( certainly to me and my son in the past) and that's a real shame as it deprives our children and all folks with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder of a chance to experience live shows and even cinema and the obvious pleasure these trips can bring. The very obvious distress and humiliation of being asked to leave the theatre is evident on Gregor's father's Facebook page account of their experience at the hands of the staff and management of the Apollo Victoria theatre.

The Ambassador theatre group are investigating this incident, and therefore won't comment until their investigation is complete. But what an opportunity this could be for them to lead the way with Autism-friendly performances of their shows, just like many cinemas already do quite regularly. Such performances would be great for enabling folks with autism to experience live theatre and great for their carers who would be able to relax and enjoy the shows free from the fear that their charges might inadvertently disturb any other of the theatre patrons.

The Ambassador group has venues all over the country, including here in Scotland. Might they take the opportunity to lead the way with special Autistic-friendly performances, and in doing so, win the friendship, thanks, and custom of the autism-affected community nationwide?

Time will tell, of course..

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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Being Dean...

Dean Beadle is a successful journalist, and aclaimed public speaker. And he has Aspergers syndrome. He recently gave a talk to a conference in Wales organised by Autism Cymru, in which he gave some personal insights into living with Aspergers and shared some of his day to day experiences.
Have a look at this video - its truly inspirational !

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Gordon Brown cheques in for Scottish Autism

Many thanks to Gordon Brown who gladly accepted the responsibility of presenting cheques to four local charities from monies raised by customers and colleagues at Sainsburys Kirkcaldy. You can have a look at the photos from the event over on Flickr here

Big thanks to Sainsburys in Kirkcaldy, and all their staff and customers for the fantastic sum of £750 raised for Scottish Autism

Friday, 15 July 2011

Onwards and upwards in the twittosphere !

We've hit a landmark over on Twitter this week, gaining our 350th follower. Now in just two or three months, this is quite steady progress, but our followers all appear to have an interest in Autistic spectrum conditions, and we've weeded out the usual quotient of spam followers as well, so actually, 350 is quite an achievement. There has been quite a strong interest from the education sector as well. With children being more commonly 'mainstreamed' with support, many more teachers are having experience of children on the autistic spectrum in their classes and of course, this poses challenges for learning and teaching, with more differentiation of materials and teaching styles necessary. This is where following Scottish Autism on Twitter can be an invaluable source of help and advice. We have a Delicious social bookmarking account which has links to research and good practice, and a Scoop.It page with news and opinion. Both of these are updayed on a regular basis and togethe, provide a wealth of useful information and contacts.

We're always happy to try and answer questions on Twitter and Facebook, or at least point you in the right direction. So follow us on these sites and check out our bookmarking and content curation for the regular updates. All the resources ae tagged and so are easy to find using the site search engines.

And dont forget to have a look through the resources for education over on our website. You can also find details here about how to become a member of Scottish Autism which entitles you to extra web content and other useful benefits...

Friday, 8 July 2011

Joining Scottish Autism....

Scottish Autism has big ambitions to make life better for people with autism in Scotland, and we’re looking for help with this task.You can help us achieve our goals by becoming a member and supporting us in our mission- to enable people with autism in Scotland on the whole life journey.

Being a member of Scottish Autism will connect you to Scotland’s largest provider of support to people with autism in Scotland and their families. You will be the first to have access to relevant information through a ‘Members’ Only’ area on our website. You will be able to see first-hand how our pioneering work changes lives: add your voice to ours and help us to make the world a better place for people with autism and their families in Scotland.

There are a range of benefits from becoming a member of Scottish Autism. You will get an invitation to the AGM where you have voting rights, discounts on training courses and conferences, invites to local networking events, regular newsletters and a membership welcome pack.

Membership is £15 a year for an individual and £25 a year for families. To apply for membership please contact Eleanor on 01259 720044 or email

Scottish Autism are holding a series of free networking events for people who care about autism in 2011.The next networking event will be on Wednesday 27th July in Alloa, 6pm-8pm Hilton House, Alloa Business Park, Whins Road, Alloa, FK10 3SA.Dundee will be on the 31 August and Perth September, Aberdeen and Inverness October. Call Eleanor MacLeod, Scottish Autism Membership Officer on 01259 720044 to book your place. We look forward to meeting you!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Research, research, research

ScienceDaily (2011-07-04) is running a report on the latest autism research to do with genetics and the environment. It's the nature vs nurture debate in effect. The evidence presented in this study leans towards the nurture side of the debate, at least for the twins studied in this work. After evaluating twin pairs in which at least one child has autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), researchers suggest that the shared environment may play a more substantial role in development of the condition than shared genes do, according to this new study. You can read a fuller account of the research here

There's a lot more research coming out at the moment, and much of it concentrates on the 'nature' side of the debate, i.e. Genetics. However, the relationship between genetics and the environment is a much more complicated and even transactional one than might be apparent at first glance, and this can make linking cause and effect far from easy.

Over on our facebook pagetheres a link to other research, including some on a possible link between the use of anti-depressant drugs during pregnancy and an increased risk of autism. Environmental factors (drugs) but still perhaps linked to genetics ( depression has been shown to have a causal link to genes in some people) so again, no clear cut answers.

Whilst all of this research is very interesting, a deep breath and a pause are required before jumping over to one side of the fence or t'other. And whilst it's often comforting to feel that there is a definitive cause of autism, (especially as a parent of an autistic child) there's much re work to be done before we can be sure of taking any of these research studies as the final proof...certainly, much careful though and reflection is necessary, as well as much more work.

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Friday, 1 July 2011

Gartinny nursery

I recently had the opportunity to pay a visit to some projects run by Scottish Autism near the head office in Alloa. 

The first visit was to the Gartinny nursery/garden centre. Here, clients have the opportunity to develop a wide range of horticultural skills which include growing and looking after a wide range of plants, and garden maintenance. The nursery is developing a partnership with Nick Nairn's Cook School to develop and maintain a herb garden, and users also have the opportunity to gain experience in woodworking through a furniture restoration project. A wonderful place run by fantastic and committed staff to support adults with autism, it's well worth a visit if you're in the area. Gartinny Nursery is in the village of Coalsnaughton, near Alloa. Just look out for the signs when you get there, or ask :-)

There are some photos over on the Scottish Autism Facebook page of their recent plant sale weekend where you can get a feel for what they are all about. 
Well worth a look and a visit especially if you need to stock up on seedlings, plants, shrubs, or anything else for your garden. Remember that they also provide a garden maintenance service if you need someone to look after your own garden on a regular basis.