Written in April 2023
For the last few weeks I've been contributing to the Spectrum Voices Conversation, a Sunday night live broadcast from Autistic Radio accessible through the Podbean app. It's a group of autistic people discussing progress on the projects the group is involved with, and discussing one or two themes, some of which are threads which run through many of our discussions. We meet from 6pm to 7.30pm UK time on Sunday nights (1 - 2.30pm EST
We're not a flashy, polished production, sometimes we forget to unmute, and there'll be a few moments of silence, and sometimes we (OK me) lose our train of thought in a tangential siding, but that's the raw beauty of Spectrum Voices Conversation, we are all authentically autistic. We all have different communication styles and while some of us participate verbally, people also take part by text (it's a function on the app, and comments are read out). If you miss a live broadcast you can catch up on an instalment on the app.
The vision is to provide an accessible and low-pressure environment for autistic people to listen to discussions and join in, either by speaking, or by writing in through the app. Each week the progress meeting is broadcast, so we're actively avoiding a cliquey approach by being candid about exactly what we are doing. We hope this inclusive, open approach helps our listeners and future participants and collaborators to feel a sense of belonging, even of ownership of the narrative of autistic identity.
As a group we collaborate with researchers, we present autistic viewpoints at professional's meetings, and we present at conferences using audio and/or video to put across autistic perspectives on a wide range of topics. We're working on recording responses to the Inside Our Autistic Minds documentaries from the BBC, which can then be used by professionals and policymakers to draw on a wider range of autistic experiences and thoughts.
I'm also on the steering committee of a research project looking at developing a screening tool for autistic adults who may be developing dementia in later life – as an area of research it is groundbreaking as this issue hasn't been looked into at all so far. This is research that will actually help autistic people in their lifetimes and I'm really excited to be involved.
This is what we are able to do as a group – we can collaborate on projects in ways that work for us as autistic people, which will improve the lives of autistic people and keep authentic autistic voices in the conversations where we might not have been represented at all in the past.
So if you want to listen in, join in, or listen to one of the podcasts in your own time look up Spectrum Voices Conversation on the Podbean app and enjoy an authentically autistic discussion.
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