On the 23 April, we held an event called Festival of Autism which took me 7 months to organise, was held in Swansea University. People have asked me “Why did I not make a speech at the festival?”
Also, during the festival people said to me “Well done Hazel, the festival is a great success!” Sincerely, I did not know what to say hence I could only smiled back..
It has been five days since the festival and I have since been able to review the event in my mind, from the feedback on Facebook, messages, phone calls and people talking to me, the vibe is a very positive one. Thank you for all the support.
The Day of the Festival
After a long day at the festival, we went to Nines buffet for our dinner. The children were still excited and they were talking about the 20 impressions of Rob. Out of the sudden, Noah asked me “Why did you want to do this mum?”… I paused for a little while and answered “Because of you, you are the reason I became so inspired!” And it took me back to a year ago.
I thank God for giving us the courage to make the decision to make a change, we moved to Swansea from London in 2015 to do MSc in Autism and Related Condition in Swansea University. It was because of Noah I wanted to learn more about autism but only just started the course I realised the calling is greater than that.
The MSc course has opened my eyes to a whole new world and my heart has certainly drawn to it. It was so fascinating! From all the research that I was doing and the amount of literature that I was reading during the course, I learnt so much that I changed. I changed the way I look at autism, I changed the attitude towards Noah so much, all I wanted was to ensure he could have all the support he needed to help him to embrace his condition and to develop himself to give him the mental attitude that he can achieve, can be a part of everything and anything he wants to. Noah’s artwork, his expression, it has developed to very high standards and always been my inspiration. So I approached Dr.Gareth, knowing that he was developing a SHARE concept and always welcoming new ideas, I approached him and asked if SHARE would be interested in holding an art exhibition for Noah to showcase his achievement. The conversation between Dr.Gareth and I began and that was April last year, exactly a year ago when we first talked about this.
I then later on went to London in June to attend A day with Temple Grandin, a noted autisitic who is an author, a speaker and is a cited expert in many autism publications, which kind of took me to another level of change. I was so inspired by Temple Grandin and additional of four UK autistic speakers on the day. On my way back from London to Swansea, I thought it was a shame that none of my peers came with me and how wonderful if many of the other parents I met in Swansea could have benefit from these speakers! This was the best conference from the many I have attended throughout the year. I also remembered many coffee mornings and activities that I have attended, there was a lot of sad stories, all leading to negative thoughts and feelings and I thought to myself, we have to change this! I spoke further with Dr.Gareth and extended the idea of organising an event to showcase the positive world of autism, having an autistic speaker’s only conference. Dr. Gareth was supportive from the beginning. It was for the course that he started and his faith and trust in me, his positive spirit was empowering to all that I was doing, is a huge part of the journey that got me to where we are now! Thank you, it has been a privilege and a pleasure!
I am so glad that we brought back the four speakers I met at the Temple Grandin conference to Festival of Swansea, and to have Rob and Anna co-comparing, Jack to do the music opening… and to see the success that the whole event has been, I still find it amazing that it has all actually happened. There were many personal and work opportunities that I had to turn down so that I could focus on the Festival in the past few months, I had to choose to live with my instincts and passion, not the money in the pocket. I was driven by inspiration and hope that many parents can be empowered and possibly provide life-changing results. I was holding very little expectation in what I was doing, my hope being that the efforts would conclude in being a positive influence, even if just for a couple of individuals and that would be worth it.
With the event turning out to be a greater success than I could possibly imagined and with so many have people stating that they were inspired and some even went so far as to say it has changed their outlook, that it will make a huge difference to their lives going forwards, those peoples comments and thanks, I have to pass on.
I am not going to be able to name everyone, but to those who helped, gave their expertise, their will, their wisdom and their time, thank you so very much, you know who you are. Everyone took on the genuineness of wanting to create an event that is not only a first, but is an event that has touched, inspired and will go on inspiring to make life better. The influence and conversation is going to keep on going. Thank you.
The first few days since the Festival has felt similar to each deadline of the essay submission of each module of the MSc course – lots of house chores to catch up! Today, while I have cleared three full baskets of laundry with all the clothes cleaned and back to the wardrobe, with a little smile and feeling in my heart, that we have achieved something very special.
Thank you for reading and thank you for being part of the #autismfestival17. It would not have happened without all of your support. So, about #autismfestival18….