01 February 2009

HANDLE Institute

Event in February more information

Information and insight into autism
Ros Blackburn
4:15pm – 6:15pm

Ros Blackburn is an adult with autism. At three months old she appeared withdrawn, isolated and very much in a world of her own. At eighteen months she was diagnosed very severely autistic but with average intellectual ability. Now at 39 Ros lectures nationally and internationally giving insight into her own experiences and the care and education practices she has observed. In spite of the severe limitations imposed by her condition, Ros displays great courage (and a strong sense of humour) in facing her fears and tackling life’s challenges.

In this talk Ros will draw on her experience of living with severe autism and her considerable experience both as a recipient of services and increasingly as an observer of education and care approaches. Ros brings a perspective that is unique and yet speaks to all her audience: people with an autism spectrum disorder, carers, families, educators and the planners and providers of these services. Ros tells it ‘as it is’. She does not disguise the fear and limitations which are part of her daily experience. Yet she is also able to convey her wonderful capacity for fun and zest for life and her refusal to accept ‘second best’ for herself or for others. She describes the approach taken by her parents to give her what she now describes as the ‘veneer of social competence’ that enables her to engage in a still largely autism-unfriendly world. She explores with humour and passion the ‘mistakes’ from which she has had to learn and some of her coping strategies. From these she is able to offer helpful advice on practical strategies (and even more helpful advice on what not to do!) Her talk also illustrates the problems of having an uneven profile of strengths and weaknesses, where often the strengths mask her very real difficulties and needs. She does not advocate any one approach except that we should remember that people with ASD are people too and that ‘common sense’ should apply. Her position can best be summarised as an insistence on the need for high expectations for people with ASD linked with equally high levels of support. In a quote from her mother, Ros pleads that one should ‘never make autism the excuse, but help the person overcome the problems caused by it’.

Finally, it is Ros’ wish that all those who attend her talks find them helpful and informative but above all that the experience is entertaining and full of fun.

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