In a year which saw autism making international headlines, front page discussions and more book, TV and movie portrayals than ever before, it’s great to see that December was saving the best until last – Showing that every bit of progress which this incredible community has made/seen/been a part of is still a long way from slowing down.
Divided by priority and featuring everything from Santa to Star Trek, here are the autism headlines from December 2017 (links to the full stories can be accessed by clicking on the bold red in the bullet points):
Developing Stories Within the Autistic Community:
- Held Back: Though officially launched in November, The National Autistic Society has spent much of December promoting Held Back: a call to action which urges the UK government to develop a national autism and education strategy. This is partly in response to reports that less than 50% of all teachers say they are confident teaching students with autism.
- Manchester to Make Giant Leap for Autism Life: This month, the mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, tweeted his intention, to make Manchester city centre autism friendly, stating:
- ‘I want GM to be the UK’s 1st autism-friendly city-region. Today I’m asking the experts – people with autism & their parents – how we do it.’
- The National Autistic Society also tweeted pictures of Burnham attending a society event.
- The Walk: In December, Mikey Kay appeared on This Morning to promote his film, The Walk: A documentary based on Kay’s older brother Spencer, who is autistic. The Walk covers many themes, such as: family, determination and individuality, and from what I have seen of this beautifully shot film (that takes place mainly in the Welsh mountains), it will also discuss attitudes towards autism: in both a historical and philosophical manner. This is one you’ll definitely want to keep on your radar.
- Autism Friendly Santas: Ever since the Autism Hour event in October last year, we have seen an increase in autism friendly events around the UK. This was particularly noticeable in December, where many locations created autism friendly Santa events, where children with sensory issues were given the opportunity to meet Ol’ Saint Nick himself, in a safe environment.
- Autism Speaks revised mission statement: Sometimes helpful, sometimes harmful, the always controversial Autism charity Autism Speaks published a revision of their scientific agenda last month. Amongst many complex declarations (which I won’t even pretend to understand) there were two clear talking points for the autistic community:
- Autism Speaks will finally stop trying to ‘cure’ autism
- Autism Speaks will instead look for solutions to conditions which are related to autism e.g. insomnia
The Autism News ‘that happened’ (and I have nothing else to comment):
Like Miracle on 34th street outside of December, here are the autism stories which are sure to be pushed to the back of our mind until they become relevant again. That isn’t to say these news articles aren’t important, just that, when all is said and done, there is little else I have to say about them or add to them.
- Season 2 of Employable Me featured 2 people with autism, attempting find work.
- Moon Girl co-creator Brandon Montclare addressed the theory that Moon Girl, from the popular comic Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, may be autistic.
- The first trailer for Please Stand By, a new autism movie starring Dakota Fanning, was released.
- Toyota offered motor service vouchers in exchange for donations to Autism Speaks.
- Specsavers announced that all staff would receive autism training.
- The Good Doctor’s Freddie Highmore was nominated for a Golden Globe.
- Celebrity Cartoonist Emad Hajjaj held a workshop for children with autism.
- The National Autistic Society announced the Run Like A Time Lord 5k.
Naming and PRAISING Articles on Autism:
This month instead of taking one article about the autism community which made my blood boil, I thought I would use the last of my festive cheer to find something which really wow’ed me in December and give it the praise it deserves:
Deborah Brownson and Carly Jones receive MBEs in recognition of their work raising autism awareness – For those who don’t know what the New Year’s honours list is, it is a list of citizens within the United Kingdom who have been recognised for either their achievement in public life or for their commitment to helping and serving Britain.
Amongst this year’s highly praised list, which featured famous faces such as Hugh Laurie and Ringo Star, were autism advocates Deborah Brownson and Carly Jones. Both have received MBEs for their exemplary work, raising awareness of autism.
Deborah Brownson who has two boys with autism, has spent 10 years raising awareness for those on the spectrum and has created the hugely popular book ‘He’s Not Naughty!’: a down to earth guide on autism, which is ideal for those who have just received a diagnosis of autism, as well as parents/supports who want a no-nonsense guide to understanding the spectrum.
Brownson also has an extremely informative Facebook group, which other than putting my own Facebook page to shame, keeps up much of the same principles which have made ‘He’s not Naughty’ as popular as it is.
Carly Jones, who is also being recognised for raising awareness of autism, has been particularly praised for her support work regarding females on the spectrum.
Jones herself has a diagnoses of autism (as have her two daughters), and though this shouldn’t make a difference, I feel great pride in seeing someone who is themselves autistic making the New Year’s honours list.
Apart from her work for females with autism, Carly Jones has an impressive résumé of work which, though well worthy of drawing attention to, would take an entire article alone to chronicle (and has already been done on her site). So for now, let’s just say that this recognition is long overdue.
What’s New for Autism in January 2018:
That’s it for December (and for 2017), so now let’s look at what’s to come for the first month of 2018. Here are some of the autism highlights which will be taking place over the next few weeks:
- Please Stand By : After mostly positive responses from Virginia Film Festival and Rome Film Festival, the previously mentioned Please Stand By releases worldwide on January 28th
- The Living Autism Conference : From the 9–18th of January, the city of York will be hosting multiple courses for people within the autistic community. The Living Autism Conference will cover many topics such as the disability employment gap.
- Tony Attwood Talk : On January 12th The Together Trust will be hosting a day long event, at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford, Manchester with leading autism expert Dr Tony Attwood.
- Autism’s Got Talent : Organised by Anna Kennedy OBE, Autism’s got Talent is exactly what it sounds like. Celebrating every skill and ability people on the spectrum have, the Autism’s got Talent will be taking final submissions on the 14th January.
Carry on the Conversation:
With so much autism news coming out of December, it’s inevitable that I missed some stories out. Let me know what I may have missed in the comments below and I will aim to include these topics right away.
I am also interested in knowing what 2017 accomplishment you are most proud of. Whether or not it is autism related.
As always, I can be found on Twitter @AutismRevised and via my email: AutisticandUnapologetic@gmail.com.
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next Saturday for more thoughts from across the spectrum.