Planning large Scale Events

Recently I planned a few large scale events, such as the Tunbridge wells autistic pride event I did, which is written about in a different article, and a film shoot the other day and a few things went wrong in them and thought in this article I would talk about, how you can go about planning large scale events so you can achieve as much as possible in a short amount of time and things can go wrong and people can back out. To start off with any large scale events, you will have to do a lot of planning and first figuring out what is the purpose of the event, what are you hoping to achieve. Follow this step by step checklist when planning an event.

Step 1 : what is the purpose of the event ?

Step 2 : what is the target audience of this event

Step 3 : what do you need for this event

Step 4 : who is involved in this event

Step 5 : what type of event is this ?

Step 6 : what kind of equipment do you need

Step 7: what budget do you have for the event ?

Step 9 : what kind of time comittment do you require of the team

Step 10 : what kind of contigncies do you have if things go wrong .

Why Keep a Journal? The examined life and happiness.

Today I’d like to say a little something about keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings.

Why bother?

Personally my top four reasons are: memory consolidation, emotional awareness and intelligence, greater happiness (see ‘positivity bias’ below), and being more articulate in face to face conversation.

Crucially, journals are very personal so don’t feel like you have to contort yourself into someone else’s writing style and frame. Pick out issues which matter to you personally, for example if you’re feeling underappreciated or down in the dumps try gratitude journaling. Or if you want to make the most of a holiday, holster the camera, and pick up your pen, switch on all your senses, to tell more than the proverbial thousand words, describing not only what you see but what you can smell, hear, taste, feel, and are reminded of.

Only have 2 minutes to spare?

Here’s a tip: try Michelle Gielan’s ‘The Doubler’.

Reflect back over the last 24 hours and whittle this reflection down to the single most meaningful experiences you had, now set a stopwatch for 2mins, and go! you have 2 mins to describe how you felt. The idea is your trying to relive the experience, if sustained over a period of time you’ll notice a trajectory of meaning as the dots are connected. Perhaps your most meaningful experience was tucking your children into bed. The next day it might be kissing goodbye. And the day after making pizza with your children. A pattern has emerged. You may decide, fantastic I value them most in life so it’s right and proper they’re central. Journalling about this can help to notice lapses in these experience over time. It can also help you to reflect ah hah I’ve long wanted to widen my ‘meaning portfolio’, I’ve now identified the parts, and what makes them meaningful, I can now look to bring in my spouse and friends into my meaning portfolio.

The great thing about gratitude journals is ‘positivity bias’, the opposite of ‘negativity bias.’ To be clear you cannot woo the negatives away by simply thinking happy thoughts, they’re still there, if you can change the negatives in the world then go for it. Change them! Yea, Demand the impossible!

But no matter how great the negatives there are positives out there if you look hard enough. Perhaps someone told you your bag is undone, or stopped to keep granny company as she rested waiting for her friends to admire a tourist hotspot, or perhaps they helped with directions. I’m sure when you notice these little things you are grateful. You may well try and be the one who does them: in the words of the League try to be ‘your own superhero.’ But here’s the rub: if you don’t take a couple of mins to write it down you’ll soon forget how common these things are lost amidst a sea of less savoury experiences.

To reliterate: the idea is to focus on the good not to pretend the bad doesn’t exist and is not in need of fixing if it’s within your control to do so. I regulary find myself coming back to this quote by Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search For Meaning to remind myself not to be submissive and the ragdoll to the caprices of fortune:

‘In no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering—provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable. If it were avoidable, however, the meaningful thing to do would be to remove its cause, be it psychological, biological or political. To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.’

This echos Seneca who said, Why wouldn’t I prefer that war not break out? But if it should come, my hope is to nobly bear the wounds, the starvation, and all else that it must bring with it. I am not so mad as to want to be ill; but if I must be ill, my hope is that I do nothing immoderate or weak. It is not hardships that are desirable, but the courage by which to endure them. (Letters to Lucilius 67.4).

Perhaps like me you find quotes like the two above helpful. If you do perhaps you could try searching out some wise words (ideally between one to three sentences) on a topic dear to you and use this as a kickboard to what you’ll journal about today.

What are you waiting for?

Journaling: the key to happiness?

Today I’d like to say a little something about keeping a journal of your thoughts and feelings.

Why bother?

Personally my top four reasons are: memory consolidation, emotional awareness and intelligence, greater happiness (see ‘positivity bias’ below), and being more articulate in face to face conversation.

Crucially, journals are very personal so don’t feel like you have to contort yourself into someone else’s writing style and frame. Pick out issues which matter to you personally, for example if you’re feeling underappreciated or down in the dumps try gratitude journaling. Or if you want to make the most of a holiday, holster the camera, and pick up your pen, switch on all your senses, to tell more than the proverbial thousand words, describing not only what you see but what you can smell, hear, taste, feel, and are reminded of.

Only have 2 minutes to spare?

Here’s a tip: try Michelle Gielan’s ‘The Doubler’.

Reflect back over the last 24 hours and whittle this reflection down to the single most meaningful experiences you had, now set a stopwatch for 2 minutes and go! you have 2 mins to describe how you felt. The idea is you are trying to relive the experience, if sustained over a period of time you’ll notice a trajectory of meaning as the dots are connected. Perhaps your most meaningful experience was tucking your children into bed. The next day it might be kissing goodbye. And the day after making pizza with your children. A pattern has emerged. You may decide, fantastic I value them most in life so it’s right and proper they’re central. Journalling about this can help to notice lapses in these experience over time. It can also help you to reflect ah hah I’ve long wanted to widen my ‘meaning portfolio’, I’ve now identified the parts, and what makes them meaningful, I can now look to bring in my spouse and friends into my meaning portfolio.

Silver linings

The great thing about gratitude journals is ‘positivity bias’, the opposite of ‘negativity bias.’ To be clear you cannot woo the negatives away by simply thinking happy thoughts, they’re still there, if you can change the negatives in the world then go for it. Change them! Yea, Demand the impossible!

But no matter how great the negatives there are positives out there if you look hard enough. Perhaps someone told you your bag is undone, or stopped to keep your granny company as she rested waiting for her friends to admire a tourist hotspot, or perhaps they helped with directions. I’m sure when you notice these little things you are grateful. You may well try and be the one who does them: in the words of the League try to be ‘your own superhero.’ But here’s the rub: if you don’t take a couple of mins to write it down you’ll soon forget how common these things are lost amidst a sea of less savoury experiences.

To reliterate: the idea is to focus on the good not to pretend the bad doesn’t exist and is not in need of fixing if it’s within your control to do so. I regulary find myself coming back to this quote by Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search For Meaning to remind myself not to be submissive and the ragdoll to the caprices of fortune:

‘In no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering—provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable. If it were avoidable, however, the meaningful thing to do would be to remove its cause, be it psychological, biological or political. To suffer unnecessarily is masochistic rather than heroic.’

This echos Seneca who said, Why wouldn’t I prefer that war not break out? But if it should come, my hope is to nobly bear the wounds, the starvation, and all else that it must bring with it. I am not so mad as to want to be ill; but if I must be ill, my hope is that I do nothing immoderate or weak. It is not hardships that are desirable, but the courage by which to endure them. (Letters to Lucilius 67.4)

Perhaps like me you find quotes like the two above helpful. If you do perhaps you could try searching out some wise words (ideally between one to three sentences) on a topic dear to you and use this as a kickboard to what you’ll journal about today.

What are you waiting for?

Why Conventional Interview Techniques Tend to Exclude and Unintentionally Discriminate Against People with Autism

Of all the challenges autistics have to overcome in order to acquire a job, it is needing to make a good impression during a job interview that is the most challenging, and where they’re most likely to fail. The fact that autistics are assessed using the exact same criteria and methods as that their non-autistic peers means that autistic candidates do not compete on equal terms and as such, are at a significant disadvantage. What follows is an attempt to explain why.

All job-seekers are expected to demonstrate a high degree of competency in performing tasks that are exactly the sorts of things autistic people are especially bad at:

  • dressing properly or at least as expected;
  • looking someone in the eye for the appropriate amount of time;
  • engaging in small talk;
  • shaking hands with the right grip;
  • feigning enthusiasm when in fact you’re nervous as hell and have every expectation that you won’t be offered a job;
  • smiling even.

Now imagine trying to enter a professional environment where you need to quickly need to establish rapport with someone. An inability to make small talk is an immediate barrier.

Individuals with autism are “neuro-atypical.” Thanks to their unusual brain structure, they struggle to cope with fundamental differences in the way they perceive the world, including (but not limited to):

  1. Sensitivity to the environment (lights, noises, smells, touch, etc.);
  2. Problems with social skills;
  3. Difficulty with empathy and understanding another person’s point of view;
  4. Repetitive behaviours and strict adherence to routine;
  5. Oddly enough, clumsiness;
  6. Literal use of language, inability to process or understand nuance or subtle signals/body language.

When one thinks of how nervous many interviewees are, if you were to couple that feeling with any of the challenges listed above, it’s easy to see why autistics do so badly in interviews.

Maybe you’re wearing a formal suit and tie and the fabric is extremely uncomfortable to you due to your sensitivity to certain types of fabrics and textures. Meanwhile, as you wait nervously in reception area, the harsh fluorescent lighting is painful to your eyes and you can smell the heavy perfume of the receptionist. Suddenly, your senses become overwhelmed and you experience something akin to a migraine, and you feel ill throughout the interview, causing you not to perform well. Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) sufferers describe it as a painful “red band” across the eyes that can take hours to subside.

During the interview, you tap your leg, rub your head and look extremely disinterested and preoccupied throughout the conversation. Your apparent lack of interest (almost certainly not true) causes problems in the interview and you don’t get the job. Or maybe the interviewer is running behind schedule and the company changes the format and timing of your interview. Suddenly you’re waiting an extra 30 minutes and seeing a different person for the interview. Because your brain is so focused on routine and repetition, the change in schedule is very, very upsetting to you. You become angry when a staff member notifies you of the change, and your attitude causes the prospective employer to reject you. Maybe you’re so angry that you lose your temper, not understanding why the change is happening. These sort of scenarios might seem on the face of it to be extreme reactions but they are typical for autistics.

By default, autistics assess people at face value. It is extremely perplexing to them that the majority of people in this world doesn’t actually operate or even think like this. Therefore, placing an autistic into a situation where one is required to prove oneself – i.e. that you’re basically a nice person who one can easily get along with – is not only baffling, it’s positively frightening.

In addition to failing to meet the basic expectations put upon them, there are a number of immutable truths associated with job interviews that non-autistic people intuitively understand and which autistics simply don’t. Namely, that the interview process isn’t actually about determining if the interviewee is the right person for the job at all. It’s about affording the interviewer an opportunity to gauge the character of the candidate. Moreover, that answering any questions put to you in a totally honest manner is not advisable.

What is being assessed is not whether the candidate can actually do the job, but whether the interviewer likes them and would want to work with them, and this necessarily entails developing a rapport. Because autistics are not party to this knowledge, both their thinking and their behaviour during an interview is not directed towards achieving this goal. In addition, the form that many interview questions take are extremely confusing for literal-minded individuals with autism.

Autistics tend to answer interview questions put them in a very literal (honest) manner and have no idea as what the correct – this is, the expected – type of answer is. Indeed, the very notion that more often than not, an interviewer isn’t wanting a literal answer is baffling to them and serves to offend their sensibilities. Why would you ask a question at an interview if you didn’t want an honest answer? What is it that you actually want to know?

To give an example, within the context of a job interview, “tell me about yourself” is an invitation to summarise how your skills and experience match the employer’s need; perhaps sharing some personal information about where you grew up or your hobbies. However, it means the autistic is left asking himself, and indeed needing to know: “what is it that you really want to know?” and “why are you asking me this?” “How does asking me this help you to determine if I’m the right person for the job?

Assuming a would-be employer is aware of the fact that their interviewee is autistic, and they’re aware of the specific difficulties autistics have, is it unacceptable that the employer doesn’t seek to accommodate them when it comes time to inviting them to an interview? For the reasons I’ve outlined, it virtually guarantees they will remain unemployed.

Employers Need Autistic Employees to Fuel Innovation

Some call it acknowledging neurological diversity, others see it as autism’s fight back. Whatever the reason, people diagnosed as being “on the autistic spectrum” are increasingly in demand by employers seeking a competitive advantage from autistic workers more used to being considered disabled than special. The reason being that employers are coming to realise that far from being a burden, autistics do in fact have many innate talents that are a positive asset for many companies which serve to distinguish them from their non-autistic peers.

Expressing a belief that “innovation comes from the edges”, German computer software giant SAP launched a recruitment drive in 2013 to attract people with autism to join it as software testers. It did so in the belief that autistics are, as a consequence of their neurology, ideally suited for such jobs. It has since spread to include all its offices worldwide. A year later, U.S. home financing firm Freddie Mac advertised a second round of paid internships aimed specifically at autistic students or new graduates.

These multinationals both say they hope to harness the unique talents of autistic people as well as giving people previously marginalised in the workforce a chance to flourish in a job.

The notion that autism bestows specific advantages upon those affected by it may be controversial, but it is nonetheless true. Irrespective of where you stand on the question of whether autism is in fact an impairment or a disability, what is indisputable is that autistics exhibit a qualitative advantage over non-autistics in terms their social interaction as manifested by a majority or all of the following traits:

1. peer relationships characterised by absolute loyalty and impeccable dependability which are free of sexist, “ageist”, or cultural biases;

2. an ability to regard others at “face value”;

3. speaking one’s mind irrespective of social context, cultural norms or expectations or adherence to personal beliefs;

4. an ability to pursue a personal theory or perspective despite conflicting evidence;

5. consideration of details; spending time discussing a topic that may not be of primary interest;

6. listening without continual judgement or assumption;

7. interested primarily in significant contributions to conversation; preferring to avoid ritualistic small talk or socially trivial statements and superficial conversation;

8. seeking sincere, positive, genuine friends with an unassuming sense of humour.

Moreover, they present with a social language that is characterised by at least three of the following:

  1. a determination to seek the truth;
  2. conversation free of hidden meaning or agenda;
  3. an advanced vocabulary and interest in words;
  4. an advanced use of pictorial metaphor.

Although it is always difficult to generalise, there are areas where people with an autism may excel. These include:

  • tasks where attention to detail and accuracy is required – e.g. research work, data input or word processing;
  • tasks involving numbers, statistics and facts – e.g. finance or accounting;
  • tasks where there is a clear procedure to follow – e.g. dealing with incoming and outgoing post, archiving, library work or filing;
  • highly structured tasks with a right and a wrong way of doing something – e.g. IT support, computer programming or systems testing;
  • spotting patterns or errors in data that are invisible to most non-autistics, making them attractive employees for software firms.

Even less gifted autistic people often have an extraordinary capacity to focus and an eye for detail that makes them very effective workers. They can excel at jobs that require precision and repetition, such as updating databases, stocking shelves, organising libraries or fixing broken cars.

It’s foolish to ignore such people. New ways of thinking often lead to discoveries that consequently discard their outdated predecessors. Similarly, the change from seeing autism as a disability to a person with unusual skills and abilities, holds interesting implications and opportunities. It could result in employers rethinking their responses and rescuing a missed opportunity to take advantage of the contribution autistics make to culture and knowledge.

Learning from My Experience of Supporting Student Entrepreneurs with Autism 
By Clare Griffiths, Business Development Manager (Entrepreneurship) 

I have been working as a business support practitioner (i.e. someone who supports people to start up and grow their own businesses) for the last 16 years – initially in the voluntary sector, and for the last 13 years, in higher education. Currently, I work at the University of Brighton, within the Careers Service, and manage our extra-curricular entrepreneurship support service called beepurple, which aims to equip our students and graduates with the business skills and entrepreneurial mindset to start up their own venture. (I also run my own social enterprise, The Thrive Effect, which specifically supports female founders to start and grow their own small business). 

I love my work because I get immense satisfaction from seeing my clients realise their business ambitions and bring their entrepreneurial ideas to fruition. Mark Blake, Founder of The Autism League and a student of the University of Brighton, is one of my clients, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing over the last 18 months. As far as I am aware, Mark Blake is the first entrepreneur whom I have supported who is autistic. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Mark, and believe that my experience of supporting him has genuinely benefited my practice as a business support practitioner. I am now more conscious of what I am saying, for example, when I am sharing complex knowledge and information, and also when giving instructions and discussing action plans.  

There are a few things I have found myself and my colleague, Luke Mitchell, saying to Mark during our entrepreneurship advice sessions with him which I now realise are relevant to – and benefit – all entrepreneurs. So, here are my top five tips for Mark and other student entrepreneurs who are at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey. 

  1. Don’t get distracted by the bigger picture. Always identify clear, actionable steps to move your business forward. 
  1. Keep things simple. Less is more – in the context of your actual business idea, and also in the communications you write to your audience. 
  1. Business relationship take time to build, and are built on trust. Don’t rush things. 
  1. The entrepreneurial journey is a long and tiring one! Don’t dwell on the things that go wrong. Look forward to the next steps of your journey and your future achievements.  
  1. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Be authentic. 

I really admire Mark’s ambition, his creative mind, and his contagious passion to support young people with autism. I look forward to continuing my work with Mark whilst he continues his studies at the University of Brighton. 

Learning from My Experience of Supporting Student Entrepreneurs with Autism
By Clare Griffiths, Business Development Manager (Entrepreneurship) 

One Voice One People Event Materials

These are the event materials for the one Voice one People event for those who need to follow along with the event when it’s being run or people who want to revisit the information and the activities post the event’s completion. The event is on the 1st May 2019 in the Arundel Building in room 209 between 1 pm and 6 pm. To comment on the post simply click on the title and a comment page will appear on the website. Video of the event will be put below .

https://www.facebook.com/events/874236019586832/

This is the event with logistical device

Team Work Skills

To manage a project be it student based or secondary school or professional work, to make sure that there is a constant workflow you really need to think about delegation and how to keep a constant structure, focus on delegation and maintaining a constant structure and accountability to everyone so people are following up and showing what they have done for the project. When in recruiting you to need to think about ability level, what you need them to do, what risks can happen after recruiting that member their commitment level to the project, and how they best communicate. These are considerations you need to make for the individual member so you have an understanding of how to best work with a member. For an autistic person communication can be very difficult, and that is why it is very useful to learn communication, a strategy that was taught to me is active listening. There are several steps to go through for active listening

Step 1 : if your the one initiating the conversation, ask a question about what you need to know about the conversation

Step 2 : listen to the dialogue response with the ability to learn something from the goal

Step 3 : Figure out what type of clarification, or whats the best resolution to this conversation you need

Step 4 : on whatever they said ask about a follow up conversation about the topic

Step 5 : if you need to offer your opinion for the conversation , frame it in the following structure , what ,how, and why is it the case and if it is negative how you can improve it from your pesrpective

Step 6 : listen to their counter points if they give any , assess if a response will be constructive, if it isnt acknowledge it respectively and move on and if it does give the response

Points to consider when you communicate about anything

  1. Approach each dialogue with the goal to learn something.
  2. Stop talking and focus closely on the speaker.
  3. Open and guide the conversation.
  4. Drill down to the details.
  5. Summarize what you hear and ask questions to check your understanding.
  6. Encourage with positive feedback.

Travel

My dear leaguers it is time we talk about travel. I know its boring and
I might sound like your mum giving you a preschool lecturer about what to do
when stranger danger occurs but it is necessary to think about especially those who need a higher level of care. There are three different modes of travel car, walking and public transport and those will be talked about at a later date. To start off with public transport there are two different types, buses, and trains but the main mode of transport within cities is a bus. We are now going to talk about how to best prepare for the journey on the bus from any location to any bus stop.

Step 1 : look up how far your chosen location is from where you are .

Step 2 : Look bus routes that go to the chosen location and the bus timings of those routes

Step 3 : if the bus route company has an app for purchasing tickets download the app

Step 4 : look up the nearest bus stop to your current location and find out how much time it takes to walk to

Step 5 : No matter how your buying your ticket whether its online you need to know what kind of tickets you need to purchase, To decide that plan out how long you need to travel for the whole day, whether your going there and back ,whether your travelling around for the whole day , or your just going to be going there for a single journey . Then research what type of tickets that match the duration of your travel plan . do a little calculation to see which ticket is cheaper

Step 6: Locate the bus stop of your chosen route

Step 7 : some buses might have sensory issues like textures over liight ,to loud in preparation for this find suitable methods for you to dull them . My suggestions will be wearing sun glasses to dull out the light, wearing headphones with a steady level of sound for you to focus on to dull out extensive sound and gloves with a suitable texture to dull out unpleasant textures .

Step 8: go to the bus stop and wait for the bus

Step 9: chose which method you want to purchase the ticket either via the app or when the bus arrives go up for the driver and ask what type of tickets you want. You will be able to pay through the card .

Step 10 if the bus is causing sensory irratations put on your contigincies and then wait to get to journey and have funn !!

Balance

My dear leaguers embrace your powers and abilities and go forth and rise. Sometimes we do too much and need a step back and that is okay . Maintain a strong routine is key for success we mostly know this . but let me tell you why you need to balance out your life my dear leaguers to fully embrace your power. With routine you can assing the correct ammount of time to various activities and always get things done, and can illivieate anxiety . To make sure to divide your time in the appropiate way use an orginisational system that works for you . A system that works for me is calenders . With calenders you can plan out a timetable of your all your plans and see feasibly how much stuff you have going on .you can also develop a review sheet and add catogries such as educational ,leisure ,employment and personal growth . In these catgories you could write everything that you do in these catogries and how long . Below you will find a template of what i personally used.

Week What have you done towards this? Submission date Tick/Cross 
CI204  22nd Feb  
CI228  14th March  
CI231   
CI236  14th May  
CI283    
CI285   
Other stuff Archery, karate, volunteering