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Welcome to our latest newsletter.  As you'll know if you got our last newsletter we're a growing organisation.  We've been undergoing big changes since the beginning of the year when we got grants that enabled us to expand our work and become an employer for the first time.  While we were still adjusting to this we achieved another milestone, moving into our own offices. 

In future newsletters we will have some more introductions from staff members volunteers and participants (although this plural makes us sound quite big, we're still tiny, all the staff and volunteers are part-time, still not making up even one full time equivalent)

Nikki and Caroline have been employed since January, co-coordinating the work and facilitating groups, ably assisted by Juliet on occasion, and I've just joined the staff having been on the team for some time, and will be keeping track of our finances and working on this newsletter.

So I'll start by introducing myself, Laura Williams, as besides being one of the original directors of AutAngel, I am our newest staff member, and the Cat Lady in our book 'Being Autistic.'

I have enjoyed meeting some AutAngel group members, and I hope to meet more of you in the future. I will be working mostly from my home in Haslemere. 
In my other job, I work at a cat shelter, caring for cats, helping people choose a cat to adopt, and doing educational talks at schools. I love cats and enjoy this work. I am the one on the right, with the less pointy ears. With me in the photo is Bill, a former stray who is now looking for his new home.

I also volunteer helping to produce leaflets for the Compassionate Friends, a charity which supports bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. And I am a volunteer speaker with Safe Drive Stay Alive Surrey, an annual road safety campaign, headed by Surrey Fire & Rescue. Both of these organisations have been a valuable support to me since my brother was killed by a drunk driver in 2011.

Do get in touch if you would like to contribute to AutAngel's newsletter. Or if you ever need some cat advice.

Autism Training: Exploring Autism

Training is a new venture for AutAngel.  Although we have been able to get grants to finance much of our work so far (supplemented by donations from participants and book sales) in the current climate even grant givers want us to show that we're working towards "sustainability" by which they mean being financially self-sufficient.  As we don't wish to exclude people from our groups and programmes because they can't afford them, and as the autistic community as a whole is not financially flush this might not be realistic in the short term.  However we need to demonstrate we're trying.  Providing training can be a win/win.  It has the potential to help the public and health professionals understand autism better while enabling autistic people to extend their skills and get meaningful employment.

Luckily we have been offered a proven training "Exploring Autism" which Caroline has been delivering for some years, we will adding value to this training by having several AutAngel members present to add their perspective, they will then train  to deliver future sessions.  Do come along or help us to publicise this new venture.

We have an earlybird price of £60 until Friday 27th September.

Saturday 12th October, 10am - 4pm, Reading
This interactive and enjoyable session explores what autism feels like from the inside and the impact of the condition on individuals. It examines autism in a social context as well as looking at the range of autistic traits.

The training is suitable for anyone interested in autism: health and social care practitioners, autistic adults, the parents of autistic children, have all found it useful.

Click here for more information or to book.
Being Autistic:

Nine adults share their journeys from discovery to acceptance
Available now, our book contains the stories of very diverse autistic adults who share their responses to discovering and accepting their autism. It offers an insider view of the autism constellation to people becoming aware they inhabit it.

Click here to order your copy.
Exploring Being Autistic
This autumn we will be running our 6th Exploring Being Autistic programme. This ten week programme offers autistic adults the opportunity to explore how autism affects them, together with a group of peers. It will be facilitated by Caroline Hearst and Juliet Pleming. This programme is funded by the Lottery Community Fund, so will be available free of charge to those who attend, however donations are welcome to help us continue our work.

Here is some feedback from those who attended previous sessions:

"When I went along to the groups, I found it a liberating experience to be amongst people who are on a similar wavelength. We each felt comfortable to share our life experiences to discuss current difficulties and work out strategies to help. Caroline has been a patient, supportive and encouraging presence throughout."

"It has been an extremely positive and supportive environment in which to share our experiences and explore further some of the highs and lows of being on the spectrum."
We run weekly groups in Reading:

We are now running weekly groups in Reading, including mixed and women's peer support groups, a social group, craft group, games group and an allotment group. 

In September our social group went to see The Duck, a play by Autact Theatre. It is the story of an autistic woman's journey from trying to fit in to learning that she is autistic.
Our allotment group meets on Thursdays and alternate Saturdays, growing an assortment of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Group members benefit from the produce they grow.
Upcoming Autism Events
North Wales Annual Autism Conference - Friday 11th October, Llandudno. The theme of this all-day conference will be 'Health and Wellbeing,' aimed at autistic people, their families and carers, and professionals.

Autistics Speaking Day - Friday 1st November. The plan is that on November 1st social networking sites like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, as well as YouTube and  blogging sites will see a huge increase in the posts of autistic people. Everyone is free to participate in ASDay however they want.  Some will just read through the posts, some will help to distribute the posts, and some will actively write them.

Innovation in Autism Practice: The Future is Here, Conference - Thursday 14th November, Glasgow. “Innovation in Autism Practice: The Future is Here” seeks to explore how our evolving understanding of autism can, and should, influence service provision. We will place autistic perspectives and experiences at the heart of these discussions. We are delighted to welcome acclaimed keynote speakers including Dean Beadle, Dr Damian Milton, Dr James Barrett, Dr Yo Dunn and Dr Rebecca Wood.

Workshop on Subtyping Autism - Tuesday 19th November, London. This conference aims to consider the question of autism and subtypes more broadly. What benefits or disadvantages are there for autistic people in adding substantive subtypes to autism?

You can find more events on our AutEvents calendar.

If you have an event to submit to the calendar, email Panda.
Panda, Caroline and I (Laura) from AutAngel went to  Autscape in August, it's an annual conference run by and for autistic people, where the environment and content of the event are centred around autistic people’s needs, interests and sensitivities. The interaction badges, pictured above, enable you to participate without needing to communicate with others, or to ask for help if you struggle to initiate interaction. 

My first Autscape in 2006 was the first time I met other autistic adults. It was a revelation to find a group where I was not the outsider, unlike in the rest of my life. For me, Autscape is an annual escape from day-to-day life, where I can meet new people, without worrying about whether what I am saying is normal enough. It has been an opportunity to form some genuine friendships, and has become a vital part of my calendar.
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