What a success! Exploding into Old Billingsgate on Thursday evening the Diverse Minds Gala, run by SAP, was an amazing event raising over £77,000 for the National Autistic Society and Ambitious About Autism.
Trailers for our #ExDxFilms were beautifully displayed on large screens in the exhibition area for the entirety of the evening. This was our first external event and we were very excited to be showing our work to over 350 supporters of the SAP event.
Meeting Eddie Callis, whose animation features in our films, and seeing his exciting new artwork were such a delight. For those of you who might like to have an opportunity to see his paintings and craft work Cornwall has its ‘Open Studios’ event running from the 25th May to 2nd June. We also had the opportunity to meet two other artists from The Art of Autism, Mahlia Amatina and pencil artist Chris Baker who are both, like Eddie, amazingly talented.
All in all it was a wonderful evening and we would like to sincerely thank SAP for giving us a great opportunity to bring our work to such an interested audience. We would also like to particularly thank Georgy Southall from SAP for being so helpful and such a great host on the evening and Gareth Skade from ICF Next for setting our trailers up so beautifully.
As we mentioned in our previous blog we have lots more festivals planned for the summer as well as a big online launch of the films later in the season. To make sure you don’t miss the date keep logging into this blog and our Twitter (@ExDx_UoE).
Jean Harrington, Research Fellow and Project Manager of the films, and Steven Kapp, another Research Fellow on the Exploring Diagnosis project, are taking our films to the SAP Diverse Minds event in London on the 11thApril.
Diverse Minds is an entire event dedicated to raising awareness and educating attendees on how those on the spectrum can bring invaluable people and minds into the workforce. The ethos of the event is to maximise talent through inclusion, which is something we hope our animation workshops and the process of making our films has helped achieve.
This is our first external event. We are very excited to show them to people completely unconnected to the Exploring Diagnosis project.
Eddie Callis, one of the artists whose animation features in the films, is also scheduled to be at the event exhibiting some of his artwork through the organisation Art of Autism. Further, Adam Feinstein, author of Autism Works: A guide to successful employment across the spectrum, and a member of the Exploring Diagnosis project Advisory Board, will be speaking.
We have lots more festivals planned for this summer as well as a big online launch of the films. Keep an eye on this blog and our Twitter (@ExDx_UoE) for more information
We were delighted with how well our #ExDxFilms launch went on the 2nd April, World Autism Acceptance Day.
Interviewees from the films, people who took part in our animation workshops and colleagues from the University of Exeter came to support our Autism Friendly event. The response to the films was very positive with those who did not know much about autism, its diagnosis and neurodiversity saying they had learnt something new.
Adam Feinstein, a member of our advisory board who has published books promoting autistic strengths commented, “Strengths, for example being able to focus, and weaknesses, for example being locked on to one subject, are part of the same features of autism. The deficit model of autism still pervades, but is changing”. He further commented that he thought our films helped promote a step away from the model.
Our next step with the ExDxFilms is to take them to numerous film festivals over the summer, both national and international. In addition we have planned a big online launch of which more details will be provided at a later date.
Big thanks again from us at ExDx to all the autistic voices and neurodivergent artists, as well as Calling The Shots and Art of Autism in helping us create the films.
Angela Weddle, one of the talented artists who has been working with us to produce our 3 Films on autism, diagnosis, neurodiversity and art, shares with us her thoughts and experiences.
Working on the films with the University of Exeter has been a wonderful and engaging experience. The process of learning animation by doing it, essentially jumping right in, may seem overwhelming to some, but as an artist with autism and other neurodiverse conditions, it is helpful as it circumvents overthinking and some executive functioning issues that can arise with too much planning.
It throws one’s brain into gear and bypasses some of those problems. And having guidance to handle any situations that do arise during the process made it very manageable.
It is also an exciting time to use technology. As an artist who does both traditional and digital art, it is still amazing that I possess the technology for making a movie, for animating something, that I can hold in my hand.
That even as a beginner in this medium, I can continue to learn it at my own pace and watch it evolve, and bring it into the creative process almost as naturally as one would a pencil. It has been a great opportunity to not only tell my story, and those of others, but to expand my own artistic practice and see new possibilities for communication, expression, and art making.
An example of Angela’s art work. This piece is entitled ‘Industrial Storm’.
Not only has Dom been working with Angela, James and JA in the States, but he has also spent time with Eddie here in the UK. Below is a still from a short video of Eddie’s work that, incidentally, will be featured in one of our soon to be released films!
After first visiting our three Stateside artists in April – James Frye, JA Tan and Angela Weddle – Dom and Jeremy have been back for a second visit to again work with them and to see the artwork that they have been preparing for our films on Diagnosis, Neurodiversity and Art. The trip was a great success with Dom and Jeremy thoroughly enjoying the time they were able to spend with the artists.
A Glimpse into Angela’s sketchbook.
AN UPDATE ON OUR FILMS
The three short films that we have been working on during 2018 capturing the voices of autistic adults, and the art and animation of autistic artists, are nearing completion. Complemented by the beautiful cello compositions and playing of Sarah Moody we now are approaching the final cuts. This is an exciting time! Now into 2019 we shall be making the last minute changes ready to roll the films out at various locations during the Spring. Watch this space for an update on our progress and the locations where the films will be screened!
We are presently working on three short films that aim to capture the voices of autistic adults giving their views on subjects such as the diagnosis and treatment of autism and neurodiversity and also feature artwork by autistic artists. As we move through the creation and development of these films we are using a Logic Model to evaluate the effectiveness of our work. If you would like to take a look at our Logic Model please click the link. The Model will be frequently updated as we progress with the project, hopefully capturing a reflexive approach.
After we received the online feedback from our previous diagnosis leaflet which suggested that we make a version that would be accessible to a wider range of people on the autism spectrum, we began to create an ‘Easy-Read’ version. We achieved this by initially using an online readability checker to scan the text and flag up any words that may need altering in the new version. The layout of the leaflet was altered in accordance with an ‘How to Make Information Accessible’ resource from the Change People charity website.
The new version created was then looked over by our Exploring Diagnosis team, an Autism Spectrum Coordinator at Bury College, Manchester, and a group of autistic adults and support workers from Stallcombe House, Exeter. These several trial sessions allowed us to refine the leaflet such that it was clear and usable by the people for which it was intended.
The leaflet is now available on the Exploring Diagnosis website and Tes.
A big thank you to impact officer Clare Pybus for helping us achieve this!
Our event explored the role and nature of diagnosis in mental health. Speakers argued for an alternative to diagnosis and the following discussion critically considered the proposed model of the Power Threat Meaning Framework.
Follow this link to to find details of the talks and their respective recordings: http://blogs.exeter.ac.uk/exploringdiagnosis/talks-2018/
Sir Denis Pereira Gray gave this feedback: “My personal thought that many of the ideas and principles overlap with narrative medicine. Listening intensely to what the patient is saying and meaning. Concentrating on the words and figures of speech and their meaning. Listening to childhood experiences narrated. Non judgemental style. Therapeutic benefit in telling the story and the meanings. I think the word “threat’ has several advantages over the commonly used word ‘problems'”
We are planning to run a further online debate on this topic soon due to the rich discussion that was provoked.