Birmingham Autism Show

Another helpful day of information gathering to bolster my case for diagnosis.

The sessions today were different from the ones I attended last week in London… well, with one exception.

I finally got to look at the artwork from Willard Wigan – seeing is believing!!  Seeing all the photos in his slideshow last week were incredible, but to see the needle underneath the high-powered microscope on its own and then looking through to see it with your own eyes… it was amazing.  I actually sat in on his talk again at the end of the day because I enjoyed it so much!!

The first session was Allies to the Neurodiversity Movement… the speaker was a transgender woman and while she had a lot to say and was very passionate about it, though I couldn’t help but notice several spelling and grammar errors in the PowerPoint presentation, which detracted from the full impact for me.  She also made some quite controversial remarks (particularly one around the Holocaust which I don’t want to repeat) which made me feel a bit uncomfortable.

The next talk was by Dr. Glenys Jones, psychologist and researcher in the Autism Centre for Education & Research (ACER) at the University of Birmingham, talking about Autism Through the Lifespan.  Quite informative, highlighted again the difficulties of obtaining a diagnosis in adulthood, especially for women.

The next talk was the lovely woman I befriended at last year’s Autism Show in Birmingham, speaker and fellow expat Katherine Green (her own blog is at Wishing on Jupiter).  The subject of her talk was Autistic Girls and Romantic Attachments – a subject I related to very well!! 🙂  I have always had a quite intense attraction to boys with certain characteristics… one of them even married me. 😉  I always had a sense that my intense feelings were probably greater than other girls my age, but I always kept it quite private and didn’t go about talking incessantly about boys I thought were cute, even though I could very easily have if given the opportunity.

After her talk, we went off to have a bite to eat and a catch-up for about 45 minutes, which was absolutely lovely.  Both of us were blown away by the result of the EU Referendum vote and chatted about that and other miscellaneous things.

The next talk was Women & Girls with Autism by Dr. Elisabeth Hurley from Autism West Midlands.  It was quite interesting to hear that genetics may have an explanation as to why girls may not present as severely with Autism than males – because of the second X chromosome perhaps being ‘protective’ in some way.  She also appeared to have full confidence in how sociability does not mean that a girl does not have Autism – all down to GENDER SOCIALISATION, a topic that I wrote about a fair amount when I was a graduate student.  It always angered me how social standards were so high for girls… I never wished I was a boy, but I wished it was more balanced.  She has edited a book called Ultraviolet Voices, comprised of personal stories from women on the spectrum, and co-wrote one called The Good & Bad Science of Autism, both of which I’m looking forward to reading.

I ended up missing the BBC Neurodiversity Project talk as I ended up speaking with a woman who was listening in the previous session and heard my question about improving diagnostic processes for women, after briefly outlining the uphill struggle that I’m having.  She had a few suggestions, all of which I have already exhausted, but we ended up chatting for so long that the entire session ran through!  We both sat down together to hear Willow Holloway speak about The Autistic Women’s Empowerment Project, which was another positive session; however, she was having difficulties with her PowerPoint presentation, jumping ahead and back on slides several times which was quite distracting and made the talk hard to follow in places.

When that talk was done, I went back to the Autism Matters Theatre to hear Willard Wigan speak again. 🙂

I think I will be doing the two shows again next year because it was great to get to see so many different speakers and to learn so much about Autism and other people’s experiences, especially those of other women.

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