I awoke this morning with my mind still buzzing from attending the Autism Show 2013 at EventCity in Manchester yesterday. The atmosphere was great, i was surrounded by understanding people of autism which doesn`t happen a lot these days. First job on the agenda was to check out the show guide and make a plan of which talks myself and my partner would like to see. There were three talks happening constantly throughout the day in the main theatre, the hub: theatre 1 and the hub: theatre 2. The plan went completely out of the window straight away because we wanted to see most of them but had to make a choice which ones had more relevance to us and MacKenzie. A big star was put on the programme for the last talk of the day which was Carrie and David Grant and their experiences of bring up two autistic daughters……what a wait!
At the start of the morning our first port of call was the SenseToys Ltd stand to buy a couple of the `Bendy Men` a fantastic fidget toy which sold out very very quickly at the nasen live show in Bolton last month. In fact they were the busyest stall all day but the product are suitable for most and are fantastic. I think all the parents and teachers were actually a big fan of all these tactile, brightly coloured little toys if they had to be honest. I know we were and we got quite a few for MacKenzie and Mya but i know i will play with a couple of them when they aren’t looking….shhhh!
There was a fabulous set up of a sensory room created by Mike Ayres Design and OM Interactive. The omiVista Interactive floor projection system is a fun and exciting sensory learning experience. Lots of different images can be projected into the floor which are highly responsive to small gestures or movement, enabling children/adults to easily interact and engage in stimulating audio visual experiences.
Some of the other stands were:
* Auty Not Naughty, a mother of an autistic boy who was selling designed t-shirts and hoodies for children on the spectrum, she was inspired by wanting to display her pride of her son in public, and to also send a message to onlookers in public.
* IPSEA, is a national charity that provides free, legally based independent support and advise to families with children with SEN and/or disability as they negotiate the education system…..fantastic support! We will be contacting them in the near future as parents like us need to know everything to get the best for our children. We learnt a lot within just 10 minutes of talking to these people yesterday.
* Suppautism, is an online system which schools can take onboard to monitor the progression of pupils with autism and asperger`s syndrome in secondary education. The guy behind Suppautism is Matt Winning, Matt has aspergers syndrome and had serve difficulties coping with school life…..but he has come along way and has recently graduated from University and has now confidently launched `Suppautism` ….great!
* Aldebaran Robotics, The NAO is a programmable 57cm tall humanoid robot which is capable of speaking, reacting to what you say, recognising faces and objects and adjusting to the surround environment. A great tool for schools with autistic children, the robots were really popular yesterday with all age groups….i think i want one (might need to start buy a few scratch cards or start playing bingo, these robots cost £10,000 each).
* Hearts & Minds Challenge, Ian McGrath who was not present at the show yesterday but was present Friday and my other half got to meet him…i could have kicked myself for missing him! Our ongoing collection of old/unwanted mobile phones in exchange for Apple iPads which we donate to local groups Phones 4 Autism, Ian is the main man we deal with. Hearts and Minds mission `is to raise the quality of life of individuals and their families affected by autism by ensuring the highest standards in education, care and support leading to employment and equality of living opportunities`. They are currently raising funds so they can open a Centre of Education for Autism in Manchester.
* Autism Bubble Day, this was launched in partnership by Hearts & Minds, Autism in Mind and Monique Blakemore. A fantastic way of raising the awareness of autism and helping others gain a better understanding.
Other companies and services exhibiting were: Acorn Care and Education, Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd, ActiVise Software, ASC Healthcare Ltd, Aspire in the Community Ltd, Autism Eye, B Squared, Autistic UK, Beacon Reach, The Cambian Group, The Disabilities Trust, The Challenging Behaviour Foundation, Eden Supported Living, Craegmoor Ltd, Enable Supplies Ltd, ESPA, Hesley Group, Explore Your Senses, Home From Home Care Ltd, Hereward College, iMap Centre, Ludlow Orbis Group, Kingkraft Ltd, Maclntyre, Lighthouse Healthcare, Manchester Progressive School & Walton Progressive School, Maxwell Gillott Solicitors, The National Autistic Society, Meadow Lodge at Lea Green, OptiMusic, Options Group, Play to Z, Orchard Care North East Ltd, Queen Alexandra College, Pengwern College, Redcliffe House Ltd, Reach Autism, SEN Magazine Ltd, Ruskin Mill Trust, Safespaces Ltd, SensoryPlus, Skybound Autism Therapies, St George Healthcare Group, RM SpaceKraft, St Christopher`s School (Bristol), Time Specialist Support and AuKids Magazine,Together Trust, Widgit Software, Tough Furniture, Wirral Autistic Society, Wargrave House School & LEAP Specialist College and finally The Witherslack Group.
Also running were 1-2-1 Clinics where you could attend a free personal consultation with specialist clinicians and advisors. We went to the sleeping difficulties clinic (not for myself even though i have never slept right since MacKenzie was born, he doesn’t need a lot of sleep for some reason). Vicki from The Children`s Sleep Charity was lovely and gave us some great information and advise in the 5-10 minutes we were in their. Really glad Scott persuaded me to go in because i didn’t think it would be that useful….how wrong was i, any parents having trouble with their child sleeping contact these people….www.thechildrenssleepcharity.org.uk
Cannot believe we missed the fabulous Anna Kennedy with a selection of acts from Autism`s Got Talent. This lady does so so much, in 1999 she set up her own school for autistic children and it currently has 150 pupils. She also has two sons with autism.
The three main events of the day were the three talks we went to, the first one by Dr James Cusack ..Understanding Autism, why research matters; a researcher with autism`s perspective and the second one by Laurence Mitchell….How to un-autistic your autism; the confessions of an autistic adult. Both these talks were emotional and heartfelt, both adults on the spectrum speaking confidently about their feeling and experiences of living with autism. I am sure it gave hope to most parents listening to these talks….i know it gave us hope.
The third and last talk of the day we saw, Carrie and David Grant (TV presenters and celebrity vocal coaches) gave their experiences of bringing up two autistic daughters. It was so interesting relating to them, we all go through the same problems of schooling, statements and diagnose even. They were truly inspirational parents and provided empowerment to us as parents.
It was a great day yesterday and has put me back on a more confident positive route, myself and Scott will do the very best we can for our child and make sure they get the very best out of life and be most of all Happy.