Autism Acceptance

The first NCI-DCU joint Autism Acceptance Week took place in April 2022 with a number of online information events.

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NCI and DCU are both designated Autism Friendly Higher Education Institutions and are committed to the principles underlying that status. Together, they hosted a joint Autism Acceptance Week, which included a series of public-facing events to promote autism acceptance. All events were online and free to attend.

Below we list resources that were identified as useful from issues that arose during our panel discussions. Further guidance and advice can be found by visiting AsIAm's website.

Event Information and Resources

Explore the events that took place during Autism Acceptance Week 2022 and review the resources gathered from the issues addressed.

Watch Party - Seeing the Unseen

7-9pm, Tuesday 26th April 2022

Seeing the Unseen is an Icelandic documentary, sharing the stories of 17 autistic women. The film was then at the centre of Wednesday’s panel discussion (which included Elín Sigurðadóttir, one of the women featured in the film pictured above, alongside Stefanie Preissner and Aoife Dooley).  

Access to view the documentary was provided by kind permission of the film’s Director and Producer, Bjarney Luðviksdottir, specifically to inform NCI/DCU’s panel discussion. For any queries regarding licensing this documentary, contact bjarney@eyjafilm.com

Content Advice: 

This documentary details both positive and negative experiences autistic women have had; be aware that the negative experiences include suicidal thoughts and descriptions of bullying (particularly at 22:30 to 26:40), and physical and sexual violence (particularly at 34:34 to 36:58). 

Resources:

  • Samaritans: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, phone the Samaritans now on 116 113. You can find further supports here.
  • Spunout: If you have been affected by bullying, this article will be of value to you
  • SafeIreland: Those seeking to assist others or who are themselves living in an abusive relationship can find support here

Women and Autism

1-2.30pm, Wednesday 27th April

Elín Sigurðadóttir, one of the women featured in Seeing the Unseen, was joined by Stefanie Preissner (writer, podcaster, actress, influencer) and Aoife Dooley (illustrator, author and stand-up comedian), to share and discuss the experiences of autistic women and girls and respond to audience questions. Facilitated by Fiona Early, Autism Friendly Campus Coordinator at DCU.

Aoife Dooley is an award-winning illustrator, author and comedian. She is also a graphic designer and public speaker.In 2018 Aoife was diagnosed as Autistic at the age of 27, She has shared how a diagnosis helped her to truly begin to understand herself and has created comics and diagrams around the subject of what Autism is to her.  In 2020, Scholastic UK acquired rights to Frankie’s World, a graphic novel based on Aoife’s real-life experiences of Autism. It was published in January 2022 and with praise from the Guardian and the Irish Times amongst others, it went to reprint after a month of its release. Frankie’s World is being published by Graphix and will be coming to stores across the US in August 2022.

Elín Sigurðadóttir is a 31-year-old student, who is also a radio amateur and scout, late diagnosed as autistic at the age of 26. She is currently studying Applied Earth Sciences at the Technical University of Delft, Netherlands, because she is interested in the technology behind studying natural phenomena. She also happens to like rocks, especially volcanic, but that's a given!  She participated in the movie Seeing the Unseen because she felt like it was the right thing to do, and has since participated in viewings, Q&A's and discussion panels on autism, whenever she has the spoons or gets the chance to. 

Stefanie Preissner is a screen-writer, author and weekly columnist for the Sunday Independent LIFE Magazine. She hosts a popular contemporary podcast Basically…. with Stefanie Preissner and is a regular radio and TV contributor. She was nominated for the 2021 Mental Health Media Awards for her continued work reducing stigma by sharing her own struggles in her newspaper column and podcast. Stefanie is proudly autistic.

Resources

  • Spoon Theory: Elín mentioned this theory which is a metaphor for the amount of mental or physical energy a person has available for daily activities
  • Spoon Theory Analogy: An audience member came up with her own way of describing spoons to neurotypical friends
  • Spectrum Women: Stefanie Preissner mentioned finding this book, written by Barb Cook, useful
  • AsIAm: An audience member asked about resources for parents of autistic children. AsIAm, Ireland's National Autism Charity, is a great place to start. You can also find resources for adults seeing a diagnosis, which admittedly is not a straightforward or accessible process in Ireland at the moment
  • Autistics Ireland Facebook Group: An idea that arose from the event was a space where Autistic Women could gather and share their experiences. The seeds of this idea have been planted, and if they come to fruit, we will add details to this resource page. In the meantime, there is an existing Facebook Group for Autistic Adults in Ireland which you might like to join

Autism in Education

1-2.30pm, Thursday 28th April

Lessons for educators: how can educators help autistic students to thrive in their classrooms and their institutions? What would members of the autistic community wish that people around them in educational and other settings knew?

Laoċín Brennan – Neurodiversity my experience

Laoċín was the first GetAHEAD intern in AHEAD, and is now Team Support Officer, a multifaceted role including public speaking on topics such as self-advocacy, the language of disability and the history of neurodivergence. Laoċín founded DCU’s Neurodivergent Society, the first of its kind in Europe. During his time in DCU he won many awards for his contributions to college life, including DCU's President's Award for Student Engagement 2020/21. He is passionate about human rights and takes an intersectional approach. Laoċín became aware of ableism in 2013, upon receiving the first of many diagnoses. Now, he is pursuing a career in disability advocacy with vigour, in the hopes of being the change he wants to see in the world. 

Billy Redmond - Making acceptance happen in education

Billy Redmond

Billy is currently Principal of North Wicklow Educate Together Secondary School. He also works as a consultant with a number of educational partners such as AsIAm, Irelands National Autism charity where he is supporting the Autism Friendly Schools Project with over 100 schools.  Previously he worked as National Co-ordinator for Teacher Induction (Post-Primary) (NIPT) and as a RDO with the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS). He received his BEd Degree as a Home Economics and Religion and was teaching for 12 years prior to secondment. He has studied at postgraduate level in Guidance & Counselling, School Development Planning, Educational Management and Mentoring, Induction and CPD. 

Ciara-Beth Ní Ghríofa – What I wish people around me knew

Ciara-Beth Ní Griofa

Ciara-Beth  was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when she was 14, but has been Autistic her entire life. After building an application to support Autistic people in making and maintaining eye contact in a way that's comfortable for them as a research project, she discovered a passion for using and developing technologies to make the world more accessible to Autistic people. She's now in her final year of a psychology and computing degree in UCC, and is excited to continue advocating for making our society a more accessible one for neurodiverse people. 

Resources

Eric M. Garcia: We’re Not Broken

1-2pm, Friday 29th April

Eric discussed themes from his book We’re not broken. Changing the autism conversation, which he describes as a message from autistic people to their parents, friends, teachers, co-workers, and doctors, showing what life is like on the spectrum. It’s also his love letter to autistic people: “For too long, we have been forced to navigate a world where all the road signs are written in another language.”

Eric M. Garcia

Eric Garcia is the senior Washington correspondent for The Independent and a columnist for MSNBC. Previously, he was an assistant editor at the Washington Post's Outlook section and an associate editor at The Hill and a correspondent for National Journal, MarketWatch and Roll Call. He has also written for the Daily Beast, the New Republic, and Salon.com. Garcia is a graduate of the University of North Carolina. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Resources

Other Resources

Watch

  • Crip Camp on Netflix 
  • Douglas (Stand up) on Netflix 
  • Employable Me on BBC 
  • Spoon Theory
  • Ted Talk: Invisible Diversity: A Story Of Undiagnosed Autism
  • Ted Talk: A Higher Functioning Form Of Autism

Listen

Read

  • Can I Tell You About Autism? A Guide For Friends, Family and Professionals written by Jude Welton
  • All Cats Are On The Autism Spectrum written by Kathy Hoopmann
  • The Little Book of Autism FAQs: How to Talk with Your Child about Their Diagnosis and Other Conversations written by Davida Hartman
  • Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century written by Alice Wong
  • But You Don't Look Autistic At All written by Bianca Toeps
  • NeuroTribes written by Steve Silberman
  • The Reason I Jump written by Naoki Higashida
  • Drama Queen: One Autistic Woman and a Life of Unhelpful Labels written by Sara Gibbs

Explaining Autism to Younger People 

  • Dr Stephen Shore: Stephen was diagnosed back in the 50s or 60s and is now one of the leading Educational Psychologists in the field. He discusses how we can have this conversation in an age-appropriate way and build on it over time:
  • Children's Videos about Autism: Rosie King has been an autism advocate since she was a young child. She made this nice short documentary for the BBC and her and her brother's autism
  • RTÉ: The series called Pablo is all written and animated by autistic people and explains the condition. Both the BBC and RTÉ produced this together 
  • Sesame Street: Julia is an autistic character on Sesame Street