This week’s podcast explores the case of Hugh Blair, one of the clearest and earliest cases of autism for modern psychologists. In this blog post, Rab reflects on the launch of a new charity and well being service for people with autism today in the UK.
I recently attended the launch at Dundee University of an important new autism charity, and the learning event associated with it: TAAUK.
The Autism Academy UK is the brainchild of Dr Claire Evans-Williams and Dr Damien Williams. The event introduced the first dedicated health and wellbeing service for autistic people in the UK. TAAUK will also offer clinical services, professional training, and promote academic research.
A series of learning seminars and workshops was available throughout the day, focusing on a variety of autism-related topics, delivered by clinicians, academics, and advocates. In addition there were poster presentations on display showcasing the latest findings within the field of autism research.
While I have written a book called Autism in History with Professor Uta Frith, I still knew little of the challenges and possibilities faced by autistic people and their families in the present day. The conference brought these home to me forcefully. Two examples. Simple things like applauding speakers have to be reworked to prevent upsetting autistic people; we had to wave our hands silently instead, to show approval. Some of the participants had colour-coded badges, to indicate if they wished to be left entirely alone or if they wanted to interact, but preferred to be approached first.
The passion and commitment of many of those who spoke both formally and during questions was arresting. Monica Lennon MSP, who gave an introductory address, came over as a good listener who was clued-up on policy issues. All the speakers enriched a most memorable day.
I wish The Autism Academy UK all the best for a very successful future