This year of our Lord 2005, toward the end of July a most
remarkable event occurred that I want to tell you about.
It was called Autscape and marks a first in the UK, the
first genuine retreat for autistic people in the UK.
Something we did for ourselves, and something I think we
did very well.
Whilst not the first event of its kind in the world, we
had a lot of support from those who have organised
Autreats, in the states before, it was a big happening in
For me the big thing was to show those parent and
professional run organisations for Autistics that they do
not own Autism, we do.
It was very tense
for me to begin with as I was not sure I would get there
in my rickety old Land Rover, but I did, on time if not
early and had time to settle into my room, which contrary
to my expectations was more commodious than I expected.
My first real task was to meet and greet people at the
station. This turned out not to be a problem as one of
the attendees had already sorted this out and there was a
clearly identifiable group waiting for the minibus.
got there, from all over Europe and America, from Sweden,
Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada and the
USA. Noisy folk, quiet folk and people with big hats :)
(thats Phil the minibus driver and me)
The next morning was difficult for me, as I woke with one
arm paralysed, (just my usual problems with nerves in my
neck and nothing serious it turns out). I guess the
tension and the strange bed was exacerbating things.
Anyway later on I had to video Jim Sinclairs
introduction, whilst worrying that I was on next after
the break,with my own presentation.
All did not go well
to begin with as firstly I couldnt log onto the
computer I needed and then after realising the password
was written on the cupboard door (why did none of us
look) the sound was not on. Another simple case of
something not plugged in. So one quarter of an hour late
I began, sitting sideways across the room and more
concerned about whether things were coming up in the
right order on the screen than anything else. However
once I had got my delivery out of the way there followed
a good discussion, so mission accomplished, I could start
to relax and enjoy the event.
There was a lot to
enjoy, presentations that were relevant to me were to do
with building organisations, and I learnt a lot about
what has been done in Sweden, something I am going to
make sure the NAS takes note of.
There were various structured leisure activities and I
could not be everywhere at once, but I chose to be part
of the music group. That was interesting with people from
different musical backgrounds, classical, folk, blues all
having a good time.
By the second full day I was used to it all but still
kept busy, needing to liase with the presenter from the
NAS, and finding time to record a little video for one of
the participants who has been doing the same at autreat.
I videod another presentation myself but had no time to
take photographs at all, and in the evening by the time I
had, my batteries were playing up,never mind I probably
had a little bit too much to drink.
The interaction badge system worked, well, I saw no
problems, certainly none of the ones we had envisaged.
Everybody seemed respectful to each other, and we all got
on in autistic space. It was actually good to meet people
I don't think in retrospect it was such a
good idea holding the planning meeting for the next days
AGM after the bar had closed, but the AGM itself went off
the next day without incident and it was resolved to hold
another longer event at the same venue next year
By the end of it all I was exhausted, I think everybody
was and it took me a couple of days to recover after the
long drive home in my Land Rover.