Autscape 2005, my impressions

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 this country.

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.

Anyway everybody 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 :) (that’s 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 couldn’t 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 there.

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.

My annus mirabilis


Copyright 2005 Laurence Arnold
This page was created Wednesday 3rd August 2005