On Saturday, I was able to attend the Autism 16+ options event at Belfast Royal Academy, an event for Autistic people, and their families/carers, to provide them with information, support and advice as they approach adulthood, and the next steps into the world of work.
The main event was an outstanding speech by Adam Harris, the founder and the whirlwind of energy behind AsIAm.ie , an Autistic Advocacy organisation based in the Republic of Ireland.
Myself and Adam have tried to arrange a meeting on several occasions, but this was the first time we were able to meet with each other in person, something both of us were extremely happy to finally do! After Adam’s presentation and speech, we then held a “break out-session” solely for the Autistic Teenagers that were in attendance at the event, to allow them to ask questions directly to myself and Adam, as two people who have went through the process they are now entering into. There was a lot of questions asked on a wide variety of subjects, from employment, to education, to volunteering, and it was clear there’s a common theme of uncertainty about the future, and this is something that weighs heavily on the minds of Autistic teenagers, as they move into the world as Young Adults.
This was the first time I had attended a formal conference of this kind in the role of a speaker, something that was arranged quite late-on, and I have to say I felt it was a great success, and I was able to meet Adam, who is a fantastic Advocate for Autism in the whole of Ireland, his energy and enthusiasm is clear for all to see. I really look forward to working further with him in the future and being able to deliver more events like this in the future.
If anyone who was at the conference, be it an adult, teenager, organiser or whatever, wanted to ask any questions to myself, but for whatever reaso didn’t get the opportunity to do so, please feel free to get in touch, my email address is in the ‘About’ section of this blog.
I’d like to also thank the Middletown Centre for Autism for organising, facilitating and delivering a wonderful event, and they deserve so much credit for the amazing work they do, all over this island.