From An Auntie’s Perspective

I hope to give you an insight into why I bought a Virtual Brick 4 Autism (Staffordshire Adults Autistic Society’s fund-raising campaign) — and why the A to Z of Autism & the Autistic Spectrum is near and dear to my heart — by sharing a letter to my nephew with you.

Luke –

Today you are 18! (I can hear you thinking: “state the obvious much?”) I’ve already said Happy Birthday, but the card didn’t give enough room for your doting but verbose auntie to tell you exactly how much and some of the for-why’s.

Soppy Alert:

I love interacting and spending time with you, Luke, always have. You give me great joy and teach me so much, about cognition, language, the human condition, things dear to my heart as a semiotician. Wow! that sounds grandiose, but it’s true.

You know I bang on about each and every child being an enrichment to all who interact with him or her. You, my nephew, like my own bairns, started teaching me from the very beginning of your life. So it’s inevitably that I reflect today on all those mushy things, AKA the “firsts”: step, word, day at school, hols away from home w/out the ‘rents, girlfriend, time driving the car. (Don’t know if you were aware, but I relearnt praying as the result of trying to teach your cousin how to drive.)

What I’m not sure of is if you remember are some of the early signs of your utter uniqueness. At first these worried your mum – and the rest of us, to be honest. It took us too long to figure out what was going on for you. You seemed to inhabit a slightly different world to that of your cousins. In part that was as to be expected; you lived in a different household and went to different schools.

Perhaps out of all of us in the extended family, you can remember some of those first I mentioned earlier, like the first days at playgroup. That was when there was a truly noticeable developmental between you and your cousin Eilidh. The two of you have been more like siblings-at-a-distance than cousins, inseparable when together. It’s a joy to see that this has been the case for all of your 18 years.

And yet way back when we observed that whilst Eilidh loved playgroup, revelling in new pals, different toys and books and spaces; you seemed kinda indifferent, choosing to play with toys over the other tots in the group. Your mum thought that as an only and a boy, you needed more time and encouragement to be social and sharing and cooperative, etc., etc. But the more you socialised – at school, on playdates – the more often that blank look seemed to appear on your face.

I’m sorry to say that we were a bit slow on the uptake and somewhat ignorant. You weren’t an attention-seeker, at least no more than your cousins were. You weren’t refusing to give up being the centre of attention. You were looking at the world in a different way. Some of that world – specially the social aspects – just didn’t make sense to you.

As you know, that different way was given a name when you were about 8 years old: Asperger’s. Thank heavens you have never felt or thought of it as a label. But, geezo, it was a convoluted process for you and your parents.

You also know I’m a bit of a language geek (understatement). What you might not have realised is that you are right up there with Jung, Barthes, John Berger and Chomsky in terms of linguistic-philosophically illuminating moments in my life. Your uniqueness and the cognitive challenges you face both deepened and broadened my understanding how and why language (and the interpretation of signs) is so central to being human.

Luke, I feel you’ve made me a bit of a mensch in a world that is crying out for more understanding, more empathy, more humanity. On this, your 18th birthday, I’m forever thankful for you, as well as being so damned glad you weren’t born in the 80’s when designer labels were all the rage.

Amor, salud y pesetas, guapo.*


Okay, peeps. I’m glad I’ve shared this with you. I hope it helps give a tiny wee insight into Asperger’s. So, now illuminated, I encourage you all:

G’wan, share the love, be a brick! Buy a Virtual Brick 4 Autism. S’easy: just follow this link and, well, just give.

PS: Thank you, Kevin and SAAS, for giving me this opportunity.
Obrigada xx

*Traditional Spanish blessing: ‘Love, health & wealth’

A Very Special Girl – A poem by Marisa Piedade

‘A Very Special Girl’
by Marisa Piedade

Once upon a time
In a land faraway
There was a little girl
Very special, I must say
She wasn’t like the others
And had a spark in her eyes
She didn’t had many friends
And never told any lies
She was always alone
Hiding in her special place
Living in a completely different world
Like if she was from Outer Space
She was a very clever girl
She could do anything
But she would not play
She was always just watching
I thought she was very strange
She never looked me in the eye
She would not hold my hand
I never knew why
One day I went home
And asked my mummy
Why she wouldn’t play?
Did she not like me?
That day I learn a lesson
That we are not all the same
My friend had something called Autism
That was why she didn’t play my game
The world scared her so much
Because she saw it with in a different light
Everything was so much noisier
The days were so much bright
I wanted to be her friend
So I tried once again
I sat next to her at school
I took some paper and a pen
I draw a big pink heart
And a girl next to it
I gave her the pen and paper
And I waited a little bit
She held it in her hand
With a big beautiful smile
She took the pen
And was drawing for a while
She draw a little girl
And wrote something in the end
I was amazed when I read it
It said in big letters FRIEND
With this story, my friends
I just want to say
That everyone is special
In their own way
Despite all our distinctions
I hope that you learn in the end
That no matter how different
Everyone can be a friend


My name is Marisa Piedade. I am Portuguese  but I am living in England. I am a Primary Teacher/SEN Teacher and my calling always was to help children with autism. I feel that there is still a need for awareness, especially in mainstream primary schools, about children with autism.  Most children cannot understand them and they are left alone, not only inside the classrooms but in the playground.

‘A-Autistic’ – special needs teacher Graham Hall talks about his book on Autism


Graham Hall

by Graham Hall

I’m a qualified teacher for children with special needs and  have been involved with children with autism for almost 30 years.  I have never stopped learning from the children and I’ve always tried to look for the best ways to support and inspire them.  I have tried to summarise some of the things I have learnt in a book so I can share them with other people that are involved with children and autism.

I teach children with autism and believe it is the most rewarding job in the whole world.  It is challenging in many ways and it is not always obvious what is best for a child, sometimes behaviour can be dramatically difficult and until you tune into the logic of autism, it can be very frustrating trying to reason with an autistic person.  However, when you get things right the difference it makes to that child is extremely positive and life changing.  I have tried to get it right with all of the children that I have taught, but it isn’t always easy.

I found reading a bit of a problem with some children, in one class where all of the children could read each other’s names, but they couldn’t read anything else.  It took me 18 months to solve the problem and work out a method, another year to understand what was happening and several years after that to develop my methods further.

Communication can be very mysterious.  At one point I noticed that if I embedded the answer into a question, a group of autistic children in my class were unable to respond with the correct answer.

“What colour’s this red ball?”

“Blue?  Green? erh! I don’t know Graham”

There’s a lot of children who will respond in this way and it is because they have only partially processed the answer.  It took me years to work out what was happening and I found the answer many years later when I’d made a concerted effort to study how the human memory works.  I did this by going into the library at Exeter University and having a look at their books on psychology and the human memory.  It seemed like they’d got about 3000 books on the subject but one book stood out from the rest because they’d got in the order of 20 copies of it, so it must have been a good book on the subject.  Having had a quick look, I went out and bought my own copy of the book.  It gave me a massive insight into how the memory works, but it was one of the hardest books I’d ever read.  The impression the book gave me was that in processing the answer to a question, different parts of the brain may be referred to in order to get the right answer.  It’s obvious to me that a crucial part of the process is to remember the original question and the behaviour my children were displaying was that of forgetting the question while processing the answer.  I had noticed that the answers were given with a lack of confidence with some of the children and that some of the children were even aware that they had failed to work an answer out.

When you encounter problems like this, it’s obvious that these children need a specialist approach in learning.

I have suffered from the effects of dyspraxia which has given me an amazing insight into what it is like to be different in school and to experience both catastrophic failure and amazing success when the only thing that had changed was the teacher. These personal experiences have always led me to believe that it is myself as a teacher that carries the responsibility for the children’s learning and that if anything is going wrong, it’s my responsibility to try and sort out what.  With me it’s quite personal and I have always worked very hard to make sure that nobody fails in any way.

Paradoxically this has got me into an awful lot of trouble at times because I’ve refused to do things which I think would harm or certainly not be in the best interests of an autistic child.  These things are usually standard approaches that are generally of benefit to children with autism, but nothing will work with every child.  For example you will get the occasional child who hates using visual timetables, even though they are a very useful tool to many children.  The trick here is to be flexible and try and workout each individual child and look to see what best supports them.

I am of the opinion that children with autism are good at communicating,  socialising and being imaginative, albeit on a concrete level.  I have also noticed that children with autism are very good with physical activities, as long as it is also on a concrete level.  Activities such as learning to ride a bicycle are easily achievable by most children with autism and are best taught without the use of stabilisers.  Other good activities are roller/disco/ice Skating, swimming, running, walking.  All of this I’ve tried to explain in my book.

If I had to sum up my book in one short sentence I would say it was about how Autistic people feel, think and learn in a holistic/pragmatic way with references to the psychological processes that are taking place.

I feel the book is unique and gives an amazing insight into some people with autism.  After reading my book one parent wrote “really inspiring book, great ideas”.



“A-Autistic” eBook on Amazon:


‘My Strength’ – A poem by Marisa Piedade


‘My Strength’
by Marisa Piedade

I look at you, mom
I know you want a hug so much
Although I love you a lot
Sometimes I can’t handle your touch
I know you need to cry
And I want to wipe your tears
But my hands won’t move
I can’t overcome my fears
Some people don’t understand
How difficult it is for you
I really want to behave
But I just can’t get through
Sometimes I need to scream
When we are waiting for the bus
I can hear them whispering
I see them staring at us
You are calm and strong
Although suffering inside
No matter what I do
You are always by my side
We have a special connection
That no one can understand
You guide me through the world
Even when I can’t hold your hand
You are my strength and protection
No one knows me like you
Although I am hiding in my shell
You know that I love you too


marisaMy name is Marisa Piedade. I am Portuguese  but I am living in England. I am a Primary Teacher/SEN Teacher and my calling always was to help children with autism. I feel that there is still a need for awareness, especially in mainstream primary schools, about children with autism.  Most children cannot understand them and they are left alone, not only inside the classrooms but in the playground.

‘Inertia’ – A poem by Kim Bewick


by Kim Bewick

It’s chains, shackled at my wrists and ankles,
Body iron round my torso,
Whispers of insufficiencies, inadequacies, uselessnesses in my tender ear.
It’s swirling acid in the scientifically absent pit of my stomach,
Chanting from the deepest crevices of my brain,
“You are not good enough. You cannot do anything. You have no worth.”
It’s being on the verge of sobbing fits over empty cereal boxes,
Despairing over cat hair build up mere days after vacuuming,
Constantly on the edge of illness: scratchy throat, aching limbs, sandpaper eyes.
All these united saying, “Be still. Movement threatens you. Be still.”
I am still.

Kim Bewick

Kim Bewick (@kim_bewick) is a mother with autism who has two children with autism.  She writes, paints, sews, and creates in many media expressing her experience as a mother with autism and about parenting children with autism.  She is also active in autism advocacy.  She lives with her partner, her children, two neurotypical stepsons, and two cats; they live happily together in sub-arctic Canada.


A Lichfield-based recruitment agency is looking to offer autistic adults a life-changing opportunity

Phil Evans Head and Shoulder shot - June 2013

By Phil Evans

By living with Asperger’s Syndrome and finding out at first-hand how difficult it can be to make an impression in life, Phil Evans has decided to set up Autistic Achievers as a way of helping others to achieve the  successes that he has achieved himself. By reaching autistic adults on Facebook and through Twitter on @AutismAchieve, he wants to help autistic adults into employment by setting up an innovative specialist recruitment agency in Great Britain.


As somebody with autism who has always struggled to make an impact on the world, I know how it feels to miss out on things in life that ‘normal’ people may take for granted.

Things should not be so tough, and there should be opportunities for everybody to thrive in any way possible that can give everybody a full sense of belonging.

Targeting employment, The National Autistic Society revealed in The Way We Are: Autism in 2012 that only 15% of all autistic adults in Great Britain are currently working. A further 79% are actively looking for work without having any success, with a further 59% feeling that they will never be successful.

By becoming employed myself as a Residence Assistant at Southampton Solent University and as a Retail Assistant at Iceland Foods, I’ve decided to try and make a difference.

Autistic Achievers, an online specialist recruitment agency, will work with small, medium and large employers in all industries throughout Great Britain from its launch on Monday 5th August 2013.

Funded by The Prince’s Trust and supported by Michael Fabricant MP, the agency will attempt to create tailored job vacancies for British adults with autism who are 18-years-old or over.

Taking employment qualities such as persistence in working on a task until it is completed to the highest standard, the possession of a sense of justice and integrity which helps people with autism to always be truthful and a reliable and honest nature into account, autism will be positively showcased.

Should an employer be interested in advertising with Autistic Achievers, standalone vacancies can be advertised on the website with £75 being charged for a work experience placement, £60 being charged for a part-time paid vacancy and £45 being charged for a full-time vacancy.

Two packages will also be available with Package One offering five placement vacancies, 10 part-time vacancies and 10 full-time vacancies for £1,000, and Package Two offering the part-time and full-time vacancies that are included in the higher priced package for £750.

Autistic jobseekers will pay nothing but simply fill out a short questionnaire on how autism affects them, how it could affect the job roles that they would like to work in and finally, talk about the jobs and industries that they would feel comfortable in.

Options to upload a C.V. and a covering letter will be available, with these being sent to employers when jobseekers apply for vacancies on the website along with the aforementioned questionnaire.

Free support on dealing with autism in the workplace will also be offered to everybody that is linked with the agency through e-mail, telephone contact and social networking on Facebook and Twitter, will only help in spreading a positive message.

Getting autistic people into employment and making sure that they enjoy the experience of earning a living is what Autistic Achievers is all about.

The Autistic Achievers logoPlease visit or follow @AutismAchieve on Twitter to find out more information.





A very warm welcome from all of us here at Staffordshire Adults Autistic Society!

We are an adult autism charity based in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Our aim is to improve the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum by providing support and promoting a better understanding of Autism and Asperger’s.

Part of the reason why we launched this blog is to  keep you updated on our latest news, events and volunteering opportunities, as well as news from the wider world of autism. But more importantly, we launched this blog in order to create an interactive space where we can hear what you have to say.

We value the opportunity to learn about the perspectives and experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum, and aim to share this understanding with the public. While there is a great deal of literature on autism on the internet, what is more difficult to find is content written by autistic people themselves. That is why we also created this blog with the idea of guest bloggers in mind. If you are on the autism spectrum, and would like to write for us, please get in touch! Your contributions are invaluable to promoting a better understanding of autism.

We look forward to hearing from you!