Saturday, 6 December 2014

Northern Ireland Autism Charity reacts to public criticism of misleading "awareness" information

Dear Autism NI/PAPA Charity

Thank you for promptly removing your offensive "Spot the Difference" (Spot the Autistic)  web page depicting autism as something to be detected via fashion and/or demeanor.


I, and many others, have no idea what possessed your organisation to encourage the public to go "autistic spotting" in the first place or to what end.

It is very worrying  how "Northern Ireland's Autism Charity", one which has been in existence for over two decades could make such a grave and fundamental error in the first place. Have you overlooked the basics? How did this happen?

Your organisation boasts of providing training to the Police and other emergency responders. Did you furnish them with your "Spot the Difference" hand-out? This would bring a new meaning to the term "fashion police". Please assure us that the erroneous information originally posted  (see photo above) in your Top Tips website was never used as a training resource or that other wrong information is not incorporated into your parent and other training packages.

You declared, that following public criticism of your original "Spot the Difference" page, that you submitted the page to your ASD Focus Group. Was that the same "Focus Group" which came up with the original page?

The replacement isn't really much better. Please send it back to your colleagues within that group and ask them to think again about the text accompanying the new photo.

Can take words and phrases literally
May be anxious
Can be rigid or routine bound
Unusual behaviours
Lack of facial expression
Little interest in small talk
Difficulty understanding others points of view
Sensitivity to sound
Extreme honesty
Special interests or obsessions
Often knowledgeable & driven on certain topics