Name: Hazel Lim
Occupation: Multilingual Autism Specialist and Artist (MSc in Autism and Related Conditions)
“I support and advocate for parents of autistic children in the Chinese minority Community. This enables better understanding, empowering parents within. I also run Open Art Surgery, promoting positive mental health and wellbeing by creating a space for people to re-connect themselves through art.”
J: Tell me a little bit about yourself, and your role in the festival?
H: I am a wife and mother of two autistic individuals, whom I am deeply being inspired by.
And I organised the festival. I talked to everyone that I can think of that would be interested to be involved, and am greatly supported by Dr.Gareth Noble. I was assisted by a small team of students, who will help with promotional activities throughout.
J: What is the main aim of the festival?
H: There are two main aims for the festival. The first is to celebrate the achievement of autistic individuals, focusing on the positive aspect of what they can do, as opposed to what they can’t. But the main aim of hosting the festival is to get the conversation started and hoping to give people a better understanding of autism.
J: Where is the festival being held?
H: Mainly in Swansea University, on the Singleton Campus. However, it has gone into schools and homes as many people have accepted our invitation by participated in making autism related buntings; all the libraries in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot will also have special areas where they will showcase autism-related books and films, to raise awareness.
J: When is it being held?
H: The main festival will take place on April 23rd 2017; however, throughout April there will be different activities taking place on the campus which involve public participation. For example, in the first week, there will be information stands; there will be exhibitions of the works of the talented autistic individuals, and a photography exhibition of sharing one another’s moment on the autism journey. There will also be a fundraising Zumbathon.
J: What will take place on the day of the festival?
H: In the morning, we will have an Autism Information Fair, open for everyone in the autism community.
In the afternoon, a conference will be held. This targets everyone, whether you are living with autism or come in contact with Autism. Whether you work in a bank, are a taxi or bus driver, a Policeman, librarian, everyone can come in contact with autistic individuals, and the conference will enable you to gain a better understanding.
The conference will be delivered by autistic individuals, who will tell us what autism is, how the autism world is like; and the composer of the Festival theme song will come in person to sing live.
J: Is there a social media account you can follow for updates?
H: Yes, you can follow us on Twitter and ‘Like’ us on Facebook (@autismfestival) where we will update all the activities as well as introduce the speakers that are coming to the conference.
J: How can people get involved? Can anyone join in?
H: People can participate in the exhibitions and decoration of the university with buntings, and fundraise for the autism groups that the Festival has designated. To join in on the day, you will need to book a ticket via Eventbrite (tickets will be released next week!).
J: Why are you interested in raising awareness of autism?
H: Most people need to reconsider their understandings of autism. With a better understanding, we can change and accept everyone is unique. This will positively change the world that autistic individuals are living in. Although it will take time, but it has to start from somewhere and from someone.
J: If there’s one thing you want people to know about autism, what would it be?
H: In one word: acceptance. Autism is a life-long condition. It is important that people accept everyone is different and it is ok to be different, whether you are autistic or not. This will not only help the autistic people to overcome their difficulties and help us all to create a better place to live in.
Interview conducted by Jessica Hammett.