Festival Of Autism

Talks with Anna and Robert


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1.  Could you tell me a little bit about yourself?

R: My name is Robert Parton, I am 22 years old, and at 3 and half years old I was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, however at the end of the day, to me it’s just a label. When I was diagnosed I was completely non verbal, my mum was told I was never going to speak. My parents did loads of research in to Autism, including a home programme, and after two years I’d learnt how to speak. My hobbies now include photography, surfing, playing the guitar and drawing.

A: My name is Anna Parton, I have been a freelance dietician for over 30 years, and I am also an autism trainer. I have two children, and live with my family in the mumbles and work for the NHS. I also spend time supporting rob in his public speaking events.

2. What are your roles in the festival?

A: Both of us are invited to co-comparing together (MC) at the conference on 23th April, and Robert is doing a five-minute comedy sketch.

And Robert took part at the ASDES photography exhibition that the Festival is showcasing. I am also supplying some character costumes for the day, as I run a theatre group in the mumbles.

3. Why did you want to be a part of the Festival?

R: To support local events, to liaise with other people.

A: Anything that promotes and celebrates autism awareness, is a good thing. However, I say celebrates (with a small c), as I respected many families do have difficult lives. What really attracted me in particular was Hazel was so aware, and wanted to both create an understanding and celebrate the many qualities of those with autism: the creativity, the pureness of soul, not wishing to upset others,  qualities that everyone can be positive about.

4. Why are you interested in raising awareness of autism?

R: Because,  I have fallen in to it, I was at an autism conference  once, listening to the speakers and thought hey that’s pretty cool, that’s something id like to get in to. I’ve been diagnosed with autism and all my life I’ve been put into certain units and categories, which never seemed fair, I’ve always wanted to make the best of it, I don’t believe people necessarily need a label. School and college was a very tough time for me having to go to units with people who claim to be autism trained, but a lot of the time came across as very patronising. I am already doing acting, so public speaking about autism, just sort of came naturally to me.

A: For me autism is still relatively new, its only been around since the1950s so everyone is still not fully educated on the topic.. Robert in particular questions why he needs a label to get help, help should be offered to all. Autism awareness is important to both of us, but it can’t just be for those involved, it has to be a cultural awareness, and we recognise that it’s going to take time.

5. Do you think there could be more events surrounding autism running through the year? And do you have any ideas for events yourself? 

R: Rather than making more events about autism, I think we just need more events about people. For example, The Square Peg Coffee House, in Sketty where they showcase, all people not just those who are autistic, who have thought provoking ideas and stories. I have encountered so many on the autistic spectrum who I am not similar to, we aren’t all completely identical, events should be all inclusive.

A: As Robert said I think we should just be pushing to have more events discussing all people and showcasing all talents, we need to be careful not to pigeon hole. It’s about teaching people to have difficult conversations but doing it in a tolerant and passionate way. I would push for more events, that are inclusive of everyone.  So, yes to more events, but we must be careful about categorising.

6. If there is one thing you would want people to know about autism, what would it be?

R: Autistic people are just people, don’t make it a bigger deal than it has to be, if there is no problem in front of you don’t act up about it.

A: One of the key diagnostic theories I disagree with, is that autistic people lack empathy, on the whole id say that’s not true, in fact they over emphasise.

I mean, aren’t all people subject to lacking empathy, its part of human nature. If you’ve had a bad day, you may come across less empathetic but everyone does that.

A: The biggest gift you can give to an autistic person, is just to be okay even when they’re not. Just to accept that its just a difference, different isn’t bad, it’s just different.

If anyone is interested to see Anna (mother) & Robert (son) interacting on the stage, come to the conference!

(There is a separate talk of Rob at the Ostreme Centre in Mumbles:  7:30 Friday, 24th March. If you are interested please look for the information on Rob’s social media.)

Interview conducted by Patrick Hanmore


Festival Tickets Available Now !

The festival is now not too far away ! Want to come? TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE NOW at

Bookings are essential for the conference as there are only limited seats in Taliesin !

Talks with Festival Organiser, Hazel Lim


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.



The Zumbathon is one of a series of events that form part of the Festival of Autism Swansea, which is running throughout Autism Awareness Month in April 2017.

We aim to bring together autistic people as well as the wider community in a spirit of celebration. We hope to promote a greater understanding, whilst creating opportunities for people to connect through art, conversation and recreation.

The Zumbathon is a great opportunity to have some fun, get involved, raise awareness and show your support for the local autism community.

What will the Zumbathon involve?

It will be a two hour Zumba marathon led by instructors.


13:00 to 15:00, Monday 3rd April 2017.


Fulton House, Swansea University Singleton Campus.

What should I wear?

Please all wear your most brightly coloured plain/unpatterned tops on top of your work out gear to help us create a rainbow team to represent the Autism Spectrum!

How do I get involved?

We ask that you make a donation (minimum £5) directly to either of the charities listed below to register your participation:

The Chinese Autism Support Group 

Play and Leisure Opportunity Library  

We have identified these two groups which benefit people with special needs in the local area that needed our immediate support. If you would like to find out more about these groups please click here.

Can I fundraise more for the Festival’s designated groups?

Of course! Please fundraise and support them directly in any way you can:

The Chinese Autism Support Group

Play and Leisure Opportunity Library


Thank you and we look forward seeing you on the 3rd April.


We Fundraise For:


ABOUT this group

Swansea Chinese Parents of Children with Special Needs Support Group was setting up in November 2016 through Swansea Chinese Community Co-op Centre.

This is created as a platform for the parents of children with special needs. We aim to gather the parents together, to help each other, to be each other’s mutual support within the stigmatised community and to learn how we can better support the children to ensure that they have every opportunity to achieve their potentials.

WHO do we support?

We support the Chinese families of children with special needs – both parents and the children. The Chinese community in Swansea includes settled migrants to asylum seekers. We have families from both groups, but mainly from the community of Chinese asylum seekers.

WHAT is our aim?

We aim to empower the parents by organising related talks and workshop for them in Mandarin or with specially trained interpreters if it is an English speaker.

We try to organise play activities and therapies for children for them to receive equal opportunities; we also hope to advocate for children in the Chinese community with parents fear of discrimination and stigma surrounding disabilities that leads to their reluctance to get their children assessed. We hope to promote public education and increase the understanding of autism within the Chinese community.


Telephone number:(01792) 469919

Email address:

Address: 2nd floor, 37-38 The Kingsway, SA1 5LF Swansea

How to donate:


The Play and Leisure Opportunity Library

ABOUT this group

The library, based in Swansea, is a unique project in Wales and the first play and leisure library for children and adults with a disability. We are a registered charity providing specialist toys and leisure equipment through a lending library service. The library is open to individuals and families in the community as well as centers, clubs and professionals such as Teachers, Support Workers, Childminders or Foster Carers who support children or adults with a disability.

WHO do we support?

We support children and adults with a disability. The majority of our members have autism; however we also support people with rare chromosomal disorders and complex needs. A diagnosis is not required to access our service, however, as we also help families who may be struggling with their child’s behaviour, or be in the process of obtaining a diagnosis.

WHAT is our aim?

People use our service because our approach to play meets and accepts each person wherever they are in life. We aim to provide support to promote personal development and for each member to reach their potential.

Zumbathon donations:

We will use the donations from the zumbathon to purchase sensory equipment to lend to our members which can be very costly. The funds will also help with running costs, such as paying staff to facilitate our members to play at our stay and play sessions.


Tel: 07546 267486


Address: Forge Fach Community Resource Centre, Hebron Road, Clydach, SA6 5EJ Swansea, United Kingdom

How to donate:


Get To Know: Jon Adams


Jon Adams works cross platform referencing  synaesthesia aspergers, autobiography, science and hidden metaphor. The result is a unique visual perspective of recording systemising history, time and place.

Working as a book illustrator his attention to detail earned him a reputation for quality work. His work includes maps of train conversations, daily noting of his engagement with the Cultural Olympiad as a ‘geological map’, Leverhulme and Wellcome trust awards have seen him creating soundscapes from Supernovae with The institute of Cosmology & Gravitation and from’ fMRI machines’ at the Autism Research Centre with Prof Simon Baron Cohen.

He supported International director Sir Peter Brook with autobiographical research for the play ‘The Valley of Astonishment’. ‘Democracy Street’ a current Speakers Art Fund commission and performing his own autobiographical work ‘Games with the water Horse’ at Venice Biennale and Turner Contemporary in 2015. He is a champion for Autism Mental Health based in Coventry and a cultural ambassador for the NAS.

Talks with Dr Gareth Noble


Name: Dr Gareth Noble

Occupation: Associate Professor in Autism

N: Tell me about yourself and your role in this festival.

Dr. G: The idea of the festival is linked to the development we’ve been doing within the Medical School, to support Autism.

The goal was to mark the Autism Awareness Month and thankfully, the students led, beautifully and brilliantly, by Hazel. There are a series of events that are happening over the month which will end on the 23rd of April. On this date, there will be a conference that is run totally by Autistic people. So, that’s the genesis of the project, and the final day is a symbol of promoting the creativity and positivity of what Autism can bring to people.

N: What are the Festival’s main aims?

Dr. G: The primary aim for the Festival is just to create a space for people to come together, to talk about, to think about and to share their experiences. By doing so, they are opening up to a wider audience, giving a really good opportunity to do what our University is meant to do: educate, as well as empower people.

N: The Festival is also about a celebration of the positive aspects of Autism. To you, what does it mean to celebrate the positive aspects of Autism?

Dr. G: When I’m thinking about the positive aspects of Autism, it is that it can shine light in something quite beautiful. It can shine light on what people can do and achieve, no matter if they are Autistic or not. It allows people to come together to demonstrate that Autism can be a creative, innovative and positive experience.

N: During the Festival, there will be an exhibition called the ‘Moments Exhibition’, sharing the moments of those touched by Autism, what do you think can be achieved by people sharing their moments?

Dr. G: The ‘Moment’ is a great way to try to capture a single point of time that people can then share their experience of what Autism is, and what it means to them, as it will mean different things to different people. Everyone’s kind of ‘moment’ would be different, but it is still of value. It could be anything, it’s just allowing people to have a voice, and sharing their experiences. In turn, it will attempt to help other people understand what Autism means, but very much from a personal perspective because everybody is different, whether you’re Autistic or not.

N: Out of all the events that are happening throughout the month, which of these events would be most appealing to the public?

Dr. G: There’s an event plan that should be of benefit to everybody, ranging from someone with the more academic thoughts through to the information fair that is happening on the morning of the conference. Information at the fair will be shared, including updates on what is happening in South West Wales, as well as what people can access and who they can have support from. So, the morning and the afternoon’s conference is what I’m mostly looking forward to.

N: What do you hope to be the outcome of this Festival?

Dr. G: To allow a conversation to happen. To allow people to share experiences, and have a beneficial effect – whether direct or indirect – that will improve someone’s opportunity. That is the key thing about the Festival: the idea of creating opportunity. The outcome of the Festival will be promoting that people can have opportunity, through educating people about what Autism means and what Autism can do, rather than what it cannot do.

N: If there’s one thing you want people to know about Autism, what would it be?

Dr. G: Autism is an expression of individuality and we should encourage that expression and support others to make that expression. Also, deal with the barriers and challenges that people experience as we’re travelling through this Autism journey.

N: Is there anything else that you would like to mention about the festival?

Dr. G: I hope people enjoy it, get some value from it, and I hope it helps increase understanding of Autism in around the University.

Interview done by Nazirah Jasni

Buntings Donations!


These buntings are going to mirror the overall aim of the Festival – to bring together autistic people, their families, and members of the wider public, in order to promote understanding during this International Autism Awareness month.

Who can donate?

You! Submissions are open to all.

What can be donated?

Long buntings, as many as possible.

What material should the buntings be?
Any – Fabric, PVC, laminated A4 triangle buntings with personalised message…

How do I send in my buntings?

We have designated Bunting collection boxes placed at several central locations for you to drop them off:


  • Central library in Oystermouth Road
  • YMCA in Kingsway
  • Swansea University Singleton Library
  • Swansea University Bay Library


  • Central Library

Where/When will the buntings be displayed?

We will use them to decorate for the Festival of Autism, throughout the month of April at Swansea University Singleton Campus.

What is the deadline?

20th March 2017

Please note that we will not be able to return any submission.

Thank you very much in advance for your participation!


The Moments Photography Project

What is the Swansea Autism Festival and the Moments Photography Project?

This April, as part of National Autism Awareness Month, the Swansea Hub for Autism Research and Education (SHARE) at Swansea University Medical School hosts the first ever Swansea Autism Festival.  The event brings together autistic people, their families, and members of the wider public, in order to promote understanding.

We want as many people to get involved as possible and to share their stories – that’s why we want your pictures for the Moments Photography Project.

The Moments Photography project hopes to bring people together via a display of photographs that captures what autism means to you.  The photographs or images will invite people to look beyond what they think about Autism.

Who can submit?

Submissions are open to all – but the photograph or image must relate to autism.

What can be submitted?

One photograph or image per submission.

Photo Themes

When choosing your photograph, it might be helpful to ask yourself:

  • What do you wish people knew about Autism?
  • What moment do you wish you could share with the world, to help them better understand, to educate, and to highlight what Autism means to you?

Photo Quality

It is recommended that all submissions are in the JPEG format with a high resolution. This means that if enlarged for the purposes of display, the photo will remain a clear image.


Where/When will the photo be displayed?

The photos will form a mini-exhibition, being displayed in the Swansea University throughout the month of April, as part of the Swansea Festival of Autism.

Where do you submit?

Please send electronic copies (not originals) to:

What is the deadline?

28th February 2017

Terms and Conditions

By submitting your photographs, you are giving permission for us to display your submission  in Swansea University.  At the end of April, all submissions will be deleted digitally.  We will not be able to return any submission.  All submissions will not be used for any other purpose except for display during the festival.

Swansea University reserved the rights to decide which submission will be exhibited.

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