Autistic N!ck and the ABC
FUN FACT – The, ABC was founded in 1929 as the Australian Broadcasting Company
FUN FACT – The, ABC first commenced television broadcasting in 1956
FUN FACT – It legally changed its name in 1 July 1983 to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation
FUN FACT – James Dibble read the first ABC News television bulletin in NSW in 1956
You can read more about James here (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-12-13/james-dibble-dead-at-87/2372942) and here (https://www.nfsa.gov.au/latest/james-dibble)
In the Beginning…
On a briskly cold afternoon armed with my I-phone and a set of questions this gung-ho blogger stepped foot inside Kira Community Services corporate headquarters and prepared to meet its CEO John Macdonald.
As I entered John’s office,
I was treated to a traditional rendition of the hit song ‘500 miles’ by the Proclaimers, played by John himself on his bagpipes.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the building.
Whilst Kira’s resident photographer Marleen Roach snapped away taking our pictures for the forth coming featured blog post I engaged with John in some general chit chat.
To put that into perspective when I am conversing with someone, my brain must work overtime to find the words that I need and having Autism makes that task extremely difficult.
Then, add the additional task of trying to interpret the body language and facial expressions of the individual that I am conversing with (which Autism also impacts), plus the stress of knowing the person is waiting for a response — it’s no wonder I’m not a major fan of chit-chatting.
Anyway, I persisted with chatting with John as Marleen adjusted a light and snapped some close-up shots.
Once Marleen had finished and had taken all her equipment away from the room I began my interview with John. She did stub her toe on some photographic equipment at one point and the language that came from her mouth was beyond the pal.
Anyway, once I had finished my interview with John and thinking nothing more about our earlier conversation I went home and began to construct the blog post.
You can read more about John here (https://www.kira.org.au/news/qa-at-kira/)
To find out more about Kira Community Services click here (https://www.kira.org.au/)
On the 31st October 2018 I received an email from John to contact a man named Robert Koenig-Luck who works at ABC Perth.
Following on from me contacting Robert, his boss Andrew O’Connor rang me, and we had a brief chat and he invited me into meet with him at the ABC Perth building.
Andrew O’Connor has been a journalist for 30 years, most of that time with ABC News and current affairs as reporter and producer. He is currently the news editor for ABC News WA.
Andrew had a vision and he wished to discuss this opportunity and vision further with me.
Now engaging with people is difficult for me at the best of times so I have come up with a five-tier approach to this so that I am prepared in advance and so that I am not going to become anxious and overwhelmed.
This five-tier approach that I use is this:
For me, making eye contact can make me feel awkward and uncomfortable. I find it distracts me from listening to the person who is talking to me. My strategy for overcoming this is to look at some place on that person’s face that is close to the eyes, but not directly into the eyes. This can be a person’s eyebrows or hairline. By implementing this I don’t come across as not listening and appearing rude and I can fully focus on the conversation because I don’t feel uncomfortable or distracted.
Allow for pauses in the conversation, to give them me time to think and react and vice versa. You can read more about communcating here (https://autisticnick.com/2018/07/19/being-autistic-the-ins-and-outs/)
Be aware of challenges that I face with reading social cues. Autistic people may not understand facial expressions, body language, hidden implications, or hints—it depends on the individual. It helps to be clear about your thoughts and feelings.
Expect them to stim. Stimming is a natural Autistic behaviour that helps me to stay calm, think clearly, feel good, express my feelings, and adapt to a challenging world. You can read more about stimming here (https://autisticnick.com/2018/08/06/ten-things-i-need-you-to-know/)
KEEP IT TO THE POINT
Keep It to the Point
Stay away from allusions, metaphors, or any abstract statements.
Autistic people in general will not be able to interpret any kind of communication that relies on reading your internal emotional state or any kind of subtext.
Keep your sentences short and direct.
The pace of the conversation needs to be at a level that the Autistic person can maintain.
A handy guide covering all of the above can be found here (https://autisticnick.com/2018/03/23/how-to-talk-to-an-autistic-person/)
The Next Step….
What followed from our initial meeting was Andrew and I communicating via email.
Last week Andrew invited me back into see him along with two other people.
Andrew then laid out exactly what he had in mind for me and how it would align with the ABC.
Andrew has asked me to write two articles based on what I believe is an important issue from my perspective as an Autistic person.
I have since then been busy writing my first article which is going to be on employment.
I am now awaiting a further email from Andrew on when we are meeting next so that he can view what I have written so far and offer constructive feedback and guidance so that what I have written meets the ABC standards.
Firstly, to John who when I was having a conversation with him hadn’t expected him to reach out to his contacts and introduced me to Robert, who in turn passed my details onto Andrew.
And to Andrew thankyou providing me with this opportunity to reach a wider audience that can hopefully become educated and informed more around Autism.
As always, I can also be found on Twitter: @AutisticNick9 and at my email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you like what you have seen on the site today, then show your support by liking the Autistic Nick https://www.facebook.com/autisticnick9/ Facebook page.
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.