JKP author Wendy Lawson is a writer, poet and adult educator, regularly speaking at Autism events around the world and sharing her knowledge, understanding and experience of autistic spectrum conditions. She is currently working towards a PhD.

When were you diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and how did you react?

When I was 42 yrs. old (in 1994). at first I was upset, then I did some research and discovered what being on the Autistic Spectrum meant. I related well to what I read and this gave me relief because at last I had an explanation that made sense of who I am and why I do what I do.

Has the general public’s understanding of autism spectrum conditions improved since you were first diagnosed?

Yes, I believe it has but there is still much work to be done to undo the general ignorance that exists concerning autism.

What do you think are the major challenges we face in making society more inclusive for people on the spectrum?

I think we need to demonstrate to society that we are of value, just the way we are. That we don’t need to change and be more like typical people to be worthwhile. Our value is in being human, and in being different. In general society is good at the grey stuff, but they need us because we are good at the ‘black & white’ stuff. Inclusion is about recognising difference but accommodating it and seeing it as having a place. It’s not about making square pegs fit round holes.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by ‘Life’ and the courage that nature shows us each time she takes a beating. At times Winter brings the cold, damp, harsh reality that death claims all, but, it is defeated everytime time Spring causes a brook to trickle into a river; or a seed grows a new flower; a blackbird lays her eggs and warms her fledglings with soft downy feathers; tadpoles become frogs and the oldest Oak tree spreads her new foliage over the acorns buried beneath her by industrious squirrels. I am also inspired each time a cicada breaks out from it’s darkest years beneath the earth and takes to the trees to dry its wings. Or when a child with autism notices and is happy. I guess I am inspired by courage, displayed by so many against all the odds!

What is your favourite book or film?

I have a few ‘favourites’, some old and well known, others that grow on me after attending to them over time. As a younger person it was: The Water Babies; Ring of Bright Water; The Tolkien Books and The Chronicles of Narnia. As an older person the books by Elizabeth Moon (e.g. The speed of Dark) and Oranges are Not the Only Fruit (by Jennette Winterton). I love the film Happy Feet and I’m generally a person who is very drawn to science fiction (Star Trek; Deep Space Nine… etc).

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2008

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