Tag: autism

netherlands autism friendly

What I’ve learned from the Dutch

I spent 7 days in a basement apartment of a lovely couple’s home near Vondelpark in Amsterdam, with a yellow labrador sitting outside the door in the warm sun. Aside from getting used to the killer-cyclists, who stopped for no one but the tram, my stint in Amsterdam was a gorgeous experience I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.

My contact in the Netherlands was Dr Flip Schrameijer, a social psychologist and founder of Architecture for Autism, a website which is dedicated to Autism-friendly built environments. With a background in the mental health sector, Flip is a researcher and author of multiple books within the healthcare sector. His interest in Autism evolved after writing some publications for a Dutch research centre, Dr Leo Kannerhuis, based around Autism.

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Loch Earn in Scotland

A week in Scotland

The trip into Scotland was memorable for many reasons. The snow and sleet on the drive from Cambridge (it’s spring, right?), castles around every corner, the tartan (I have added to my wardrobe) and Scottish Autism.

During my time in Scotland, I had the pleasure of meeting Andrew Lester, the Architect responsible for designing one of the first schools specifically designed for children with an Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Andrew’s background is a personal one as his daughter has ASD and, by his own words, has had very challenging behaviour from a young age. His wife and he wondered where she would fit in and be able to learn, as the existing school system was not suitable for her.

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Livingroom of Airbnb

First impression of Denmark

Dear Jacson,

I had a long transit to get to this gorgeous street in Aarhus. It is a beautiful sunny day clear skies, other than a few wispy clouds. There’s a slight breeze and the temperature is around 5 degrees. I left Washington D.C. on a clear cold afternoon and arrived at Heathrow airport on a cold and snowy morning for my layover. I’m pretty happy to be back in the sunshine again.

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Churchill Fellowship: Finding out

I was at my desk when the email came in. At first, I saw “Churchill Trust,” then “It gives me great pleasure…” Surely that had to be good! I held my breath and opened the email. I didn’t get past the first line before the tears started.

“It gives me great pleasure to advise that your application for a 2017 Churchill Fellowship has been approved by the Board of Directors at a meeting in Canberra…”

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The word Autism spelled on blocks

In the beginning

My grandson was diagnosed with Autism. He was seven and a half at the time. The diagnosis was not a surprise, but it was still something to wrap our minds around. My daughter told me she had a little cry – of course she did, we all did. Jacson was also born with Down Syndrome. My daughter and her fiancé work hard with him and have the highest expectations for his abilities. This hasn’t changed, but perhaps the goal posts have since the early days.

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