Females on the spectrum have been described as being like swans – appearing to glide across the surface of life but paddling furiously under the surface just to keep afloat!
It is becoming increasingly understood that more women may be on the autism spectrum than previously thought. However, many develop a range of coping strategies that may mask the myriad of difficulties they face in day to day life. Their ability to cope in this way can leave women isolated and vulnerable, complicate the diagnostic process and restrict access to services or support. When they do hit difficulties or ‘crisis points’ in their lives, their difficulties may be misunderstood and they may be dismissed or misdiagnosed.
Scottish Women’s Autism Network (SWAN) was established in August 2012 in partnership with Autism Network Scotland.
We meet for peer support and networking. We help each other by sharing our experiences and knowledge, having open discussions, women having the opportunity to meet like-minded women. SWAN is a network of women each with a unique perspective, shaped by individual experiences and circumstances; we represent a range of views on all sorts of issues from diagnosis to gender, from ASC as a difference rather than a disorder, to life in general.
Responsibility for planning, administration, communicating with the wider group, other organisations and individuals who contact us has been taken on a voluntary basis by a small number of us over the years. We also have an ever expanding wider network of women involved through our informal meet-ups, social events, Facebook Page, Friends of SWAN forum, and so on.
Some of us are also involved in public awareness activities and presentation services; we are committed to promoting information exchange with practitioners and service providers.
We are open to new members and contacts. For further information, we can be contacted through a number of different ways:
Please note that no members of SWAN are based at the Autism Network Scotland office. If you wish to speak to SWAN on the phone, please make contact via the email address or Facebook page above first to arrange this.
SWAN has produced the following flyers:
In 2015, SWAN held two learning events in partnership with Autism Network Scotland. Information about these events and links to the presentations can be found below. SWAN and ANS are hoping to continue to run further events together, and information about this will be posted here as plans arise.
Following the success of the first event in April, on October 28th SWAN and Autism Network Scotland hosted another conference at the University of Strathclyde, this time with a focus on health and wellbeing. Links to the videos and PowerPoints from the presentations can be found here.
For the first time in Scotland, a conference for girls and women on the autism spectrum facilitated the exchange of information and experiences with practitioners. Women, Girls and the Autism Spectrum took place on April 27, 2015 at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
Kasia of SWAN describes a recent SWAN activity:
“A few Saturdays ago some of us took part in a Batik workshop led by Amy from Autistic Initiatives. Batik is an art using wax painted on silk and then dyes used to paint a picture. We had 3 hours to accomplish our task and I felt very unsure if I would be able to figure out what to draw on my 2 canvases. It ended up as an interesting experience.
“It reminded me that I cannot always do things perfectly especially if I am learning something new. I also was reminded to enjoy the experience for what it was. It was a good time with people who wanted to do something together with me. Maybe next time I’ll meet you there too.
“These paintings were not finished on the day. Amy took our batiks away to remove the wax and join all the paintings made that day into one big one. One of mine tells my story about being torn between spaces and people I love and the other is about things that make me feel connected, feeling part of something bigger.
“And one thing more. Thank you Amy. It was lovely to meet you.”