Positive Autism Awareness Conference

An account of the Positive Autism Awareness Conference staged by NAS West Norfolk yesterday at the Duke’s Head Hotel, King’s Lynn. Read, enjoy and please share.

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday NAS West Norfolk held a Positive Autism Awareness Conference at the Duke’s Head Hotel in King’s Lynn, and this post,which will be a major one is all about that event.

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The Dukes Head, where the Positive Autism Awareness Conference took place on April 15th. This photo was constrained by the presence of the Mart. After a fortnight in Lynn, the Mart splits in to two to go to various other places around the country – but it is only in Lynn that you get to see everything.

THE PRELIMINARIES

Some us went to the venue on Thursday evening to do a some preliminary setup work to reduce the amount that needed to be done on the day itself. Here are a few photos from that…

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Adjoining my photographic stand the other stand I would be covering on the day – the NAS stand

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My photographic stand – with a blank space for the laptop

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THE DAY ITSELF

Those of use involved in organizing the event were required to be there by 8AM so that we were ready when the guests started arriving. I arrived bright and early (given that the venue is a five minute walk from my flat so I jolly well should have done!), and got my stall up and running. Here are some photos from before the event started…

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A close ups from the NAS stalll

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An excellent acrostic

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The Speads stall – the young woman running the stall goes by the name of Carly

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Musical Keys

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The seating area, already looking satisfactorily full.

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Almost ready to start.
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Lynda Niles preparing to give the first talk of the day.
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My NAS West Norfolk lanyard.

THE FIRST SESSION

Indefatigable branch chair Karan McKerrow opened the event and explained that the day was about being positive about autism and autistic people, mentioning both myself and Callum and what we were going to be doing during the day. Then it was time for Lynda Niles’ talk. At that stage we were operating without amplification, and I was stood at the back, but I still heard every word that Lynda said. Lynda’s talk was accompanied by slides, which show you what she covered…

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THE BEANBAG INCIDENT

One of the things we had at this event was a ‘dark den’ with a beanbag inside as the floor was quite hard. The den itself survived unscathed, but the beanbag was a different story…

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That is now an ex-beanbag!

CALLUM’S POEM

Callum Brazzo, the other of two autistic adults to be on the committee of NAS West Norfolk, recited a poem he had created about autism as the next feature of the conference. I am unable to remember the exact words, but it was a splendid performance, and I sure that if you email Callum he can supply the words (perhaps you could post them in the comments section as well, Callum). Meanwhile, here he is in action…

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MEL BRUCE’S AUTISM FRIENDLY RULES

Clinical psychologist Dr Mel Bruce and a commissioner named Sharon shared the next session, but before I move on to that, Mel has learned some excellent rules for making sessions autism friendly, and here they are…

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Mel Bruce Autism Friendly Guidelines
This shows all off the ‘rules diagrams’ in one picture – a composite of the other two pictures.

MEL AND SHARON 

We had a working microphone by this point, which Mel and Sharon shared, taking it in turns to speak. They introduced the ‘bucket model’ for anxiety of which much more later, talked about their respective jobs and about quite a few other things.

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Sharon speaking, with Mel standing next to her.

LUNCH

Karan had organised food for us, which turned out to be excellent, and thus fortified we were ready for the afternoon session, which opened with the undoubted star speaker of the event…

ANNA KENNEDY OBE

Anna had arrived during lunch and expressed her admiration for my photos. Anna talked about her experiences bringing up two autistic children, going on People’s Strictly (partnered with Robin Windsor) and launching Autism’s Got Talent (and successfully facing down Mr Cowell over that suffix!). Her talk was thoroughly inspiring.

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Anna’s talk was followed by a short break, during which I took this picture…

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My photographic stall, The NAS stall and Karan’s younger son Ciaran (I took this picture at Karan’s specific request)

THE FINAL SESSION:
STAR FISH PLUS AND THE BUCKET MODEL

The last session of the day was another joint effort, by Holly and Michelle,two of Mel’s colleagues at Starfish Plus. Their presentation went into more detail about the ‘bucket model’, and was an excellent way to bring down the curtain on the event…

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MY PHOTOGRAPHIC DISPLAY AND
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE DAY

My photographic stall was very successful. The event itself was a massive success. Not counting us committee members 145 people packed out the venue, every session was interesting and informative  and the stalls were all fantastic.

Author: Thomas

I am branch secretary of NAS West Norfolk and #actuallyautistic (diagnosed 10 years ago at the comparatively advanced age of 31). I am a keen photographer, so that most of my own posts contain photos. I am a keen cricket fan and often write about that subject. I also focus a lot on politics and on nature.

1 thought on “Positive Autism Awareness Conference”

  1. Great photos Thomas, a brilliant visual diary of a splendid day. You haven’t put your own photographic showcase on here which was great! Callum’s poem is called Nameless and it’s available to see on YouTube I believe.

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