Welcome to the April 2013 Autism Network Scotland News. This edition has an Arts focus and features information about a range of events and activities across the country which we hope you will find of interest.

Autism Network Scotland is trialing a new e-letter format. We welcome feedback from our readers, so please get in touch with any comments or questions. If you would like to contribute an article to future newsletters contact autism.network@strath.ac.uk.

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CREATE! Art For Autism Competition Launches

Create! Art for Autism 2013 is a UK-wide competition that highlights the creativity of young people with an autistic spectrum disorder and showcases their work to a wider audience. The contest was launched on Tuesday 23rd April at a Parliamentary reception in London, hosted by Alun Cairns MP for the Vale of Glamorgan.

Entries are invited from 11- to 25-year-olds across five categories – 2D art, 3D art, digital art, poetry and people’s choice – with prizes for the individual winners and their schools.

Read more about this competition.



AUTISM: LIFE IN COLOUR Photography Project – Still Time to Submit Your Images!

Don’t forget there is still time to enter Autism Initiatives‘ current project, “Autism: Life in Colour”! Anyone of any age who has an autism spectrum condition and is living in Scotland can take part. Submissions can be made until May 31st 2013.

Autism Network Scotland are supporting the project which was launched to mark April 2nd 2013 – World Autism Awareness Day. The aim of the project is to provide a visual representation of the Scottish Government’s Autism Mapping Project.

To participate, simply submit your photos or videos taken on 2nd April via the Autism: Life in Colour websiteDon’t worry if you did not take your photographs on 2nd April – you can take your pictures or videos now and still submit them to be part of the project. Find out more about this project, including how the finished pictures and videos will be used.



Autism Network Scotland Online Gallery


In February Autism Network Scotland launched its new website. The website contains detail about Autism Network Scotland, key links, resources and a comprehensive Information Library as well as the latest News from across Scotland and an Events calendar. There is also a direct link to the Government’s Scottish Strategy for Autism website.

Another exciting feature of our website is its interactive Gallery page. The space is divided into two. The first section contains images from Autism Network Scotland events, news and activities. In the second section we showcase contributions from members of our forums and networks.

If you have an image, illustration or photograph that you wish to be considered for display in our gallery please email the item to autism.network@strath.ac.uk along with a brief explanation about it.

Visit the Gallery.



Our Gallery Featured Artist: David Seagrave

David has been taking photographs for over 50 years and develops all his own images. He recalls “I took my first photo (of the Russian Pavilion at the Brussels World fair ) in 1958 on a box camera then took my first 35 mm photo in 1960, nowadays I have at least 30 useable cameras from a centenarian plate camera to modern SLRs”.

David enjoys taking photos “of Scotland’s incomparably diverse scenery”. This stunning black & white image is a filtered view of the lower mountain slopes opposite Crianlarich.

Read more about David’s work.


John Williams – Edinburgh festival Fringe Show

‘My Son’s Not Rainman’ is a new show for 2013 from comedian John Williams. It’s a show about finding the positive in everything, from the joy and wonder of the Special School Disco to the unadulterated thrill of getting the front seat on the Docklands Light Railway. Ultimately, it’s just an uplifting tale about what it really means to be different. John Williams show runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer from the 1 – 25 August . The show venue is Just the Tonic@Bristo Square, 45-47 Lothian Street, EH1 1HB . For further details about this and John Williams’ blog click here.

Here John talks to Autism Network Scotland about his motivation to develop the show and take it on tour.

Comedians have talked of their family life in stand up routines for years. Yet as soon as you mention that you’ve written a stand up show about family life with your disabled son, people tend to recoil in horror. For a recent Radio 4 interview, the researcher asked me, “So, what’s the most offensive thing you say about your son on stage?” … I’m not sure, but that’s probably the most offensive question I’ve been asked. Do I have to ridicule him for it to be humour? When did comedy, particularly around the issue of disability, have to always have a target? Why can’t it be about joy and light and celebrating a unique way of life?

The Boy (as I will refer to my son, to save his blushes) has autism and cerebral palsy. His behaviour can be pretty challenging at times. But our shared lives aren’t a black hole of misery. Far from it. Nobody has ever made me laugh the same way he can. We’ve watched and roared at more cat videos on YouTube than I care to mention. We’ve discussed Doctor Who in a detail that I never thought possible. And we’ve built creations out of Lego that your every day man can only dream of.

So that’s why I wanted to tell our story. I want people to understand The Boy and the thousands like him.

Read the complete article.



Scottish Women’s Autism Network – This one’s a flier!

This month, in association with Autism Network Scotland, the Scottish Women’s Autism Network (SWAN) is delighted to announce the launch of its first information flier: A Guide for Health Professionals Working with Women with Autism.

SWAN was established in August of 2012. It aims to raise awareness of how autism affects females, challenging entrenched misconceptions such as autism being a male-only condition and any perceptions of autism as having one-shape-or-size.

SWAN is working to gather and disseminate relevant information and improve access to practical, effective sources of help and support; areas include relational issues, safety, life management advice, housing, employment or finance.

These aims dovetail its goal of providing mutual support and encouragement to the female community living with autism. SWAN is seeking to build a relational framework and sense of community between women on the spectrum. SWAN is currently a fledgling organisation hoping to stretch its wings in time, with a wider remit, bigger membership and increased resources.

SWAN would highly appreciate any constructive feedback on this first venture!

Read more about SWAN.



 You, Me & ASD: An Art Exhibition

For the last six months Project Abilityand the Autism Resource Centre in Glasgow have worked together to deliver visual art classes for people aged 14 plus with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder.

58 artworks are displayed in the foyer at Trongate 103, created by 41 artists and will be exhibited until April 30th.

Read more about You, Me & ASD.
Scottish Autism’s Hamilton Group Exhibition

An art exhibition by Scottish Autism’s Hamilton group opened to the public in the beautiful Low Parks Museum, Hamilton.

The talented young adults with autism – who are supported by Scottish Autism – have been taking part in art therapy sessions at the charity’s base in Hamilton Towers. Their impressive range of work is on display from 15 April. Admission to both the exhibition and Low Parks Museum is free.

You can read more about this exhibition.





The Gallery on the Corner, Edinburgh

The gallery on the corner is a commercial gallery and studio space which fully represents and supports inclusive artwork and crafts produced by artists who have a physical or mental health condition or those from a disadvantaged background.

It provides a platform to exhibit and sell artwork in a high profile location in the heart of Edinburgh’s gallery district being based at 34 Northumberland Street. The Autism: Life in Colour Exhibition will be held at the Gallery on the Corner from Tuesday 6th to Saturday 31st August. The current exhibition is Something Blue.

Find out more about this exhibition.





Music For Autism

Music for Autism is enhancing quality of life and raising public awareness through autism-friendly, interactive concerts developed specifically for individuals with autism and their families. The concerts, held in the UK and the USA, feature professional musicians, including Tony Award winners, Grammy-nominated classical artists, and Pulitzer Prize winners.

John Lubbock and Christine Cairns, musicians and parents of a son with autism, established Music for Autism in the UK in 2002. Their journey began by organising a series of fundraising concerts and producing Songs for Alexander, a music CD dedicated to their son which features Scottish folk songs performed by British classical musicians such as Sir Simon Rattle and Evelyn Glennie. Find further details about Music for Autism, the CD and their concerts.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Apollo Theatre

The National Theatre’s highly acclaimed production of the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, has opened in March in the West End’s Apollo Theatre.

The production is running until January 2014 and was recently nominated for 8 Olivier Awards.

Find out more.




Autism-Friendly Performance of the Lion King

The first dedicated autism-friendly performance of Disney’s The Lion King in the UK was held at the Lyceum Theatre in London’s West End on Sunday 14 April.

Following from this success a date has been set for a performance in Edinburgh on the 24th of November 2013 with a further London date planned in 2014.

Read more about this special performance.



Autism-Friendly Cinema Screenings

April has seen some exciting developments for Autism Film Screening Partnerships. Dimensionshas announced that Autism Friendly Films will be screened at 32 more Cineworld cinemas every month across the UK.  A total of 53 Cineworld cinemas will now to take part in the initiative. The first film to show across all 53 cinemas will be Finding Nemo on Sunday May 5 at 11am as part of the partnership. The screenings will be shown monthly, on the first Sunday of the month.

Dimensions continues to partner with ODEON to show Autism Friendly Screenings across more than 90 cinemas nationwide.

Dimensions also announced this month that Vue Cinemas is pledging its support to the organisation’s Autism Friendly Films initiative. Vue Cinemas will launch its autism friendly screenings on the 30th June, with subsequent monthly screenings happening on the last Sunday of each month. These screenings will be available at 78 Vue Cinemas nationwide including Aberdeen, Inverness, Stirling and Edinburgh.

Find out more about these film screenings.



All Said & Done: A Poetry Anthology

All Said & Done is a unique poetry anthology of the best in light verse and will have you laughing out loud, or at the very least, raise a wry smile. It includes 80 poems by 37 contributors.

Some are written by established poets, others came from amateurs who entered a competition run by the National Autistic Society.

Find out more about this collection.







This publication was produced as part of Project Ability’s artist in residence programme and coincided with the exhibition, Spectrum in 2006.

A colourful scrap book like compilation of witty drawings, stories, installations, paintings and thoughts as Janetka Platum explores the creative needs of young people with Autism.

Spectrum is now available to buy.





The Boy Who Fell to Earth

The Boy who Fell to Earth by Kathy Lette was released in paperback on April 11th and is available in major book outlets across the UK and online priced at £7.99
The story follows Merlin. He’s Lucy’s bright, beautiful son – who just happens to be autistic. Since Merlin’s father left them in the lurch shortly after his diagnosis, Lucy has made Merlin the centre of her world. Struggling with the joys and tribulations of raising her eccentrically adorable yet challenging child, (if only Merlin came with operating instructions) Lucy doesn’t have room for any other man in her life…

Visit Kathy Lette’s website.


If you are not already a member of Autism Network Scotland, find out the benefits of membership and how to join us.