Michael Barton author of It’s Raining Cats and Dogs, An Autism Guide to the Confusing World of Idioms, Metaphors and Everyday Expressions gave an insightful talk at The Autism Show in London on 14th June 2013. Michael’s talk ‘How to maximise autistic strengths and minimise weaknesses – straight from the horse’s mouth,’ aimed to show the audience that you can use your autistic quirks and traits to your advantage and make the most out of any given situation.
Starting by discussing his school years, Michael explained that his confidence and social skills grew as he pursued a wide range of hobbies and interests. Michael always willing to try out a hobby, has gained several skills over the years including playing the French Horn, Judo to an altogether more unique hobby; playing the spoons. Having such a wide repertoire of skills meant that Michael minimised his feelings of anxiety and was able to integrate with lots of different social groups. His advice to the audience was to encourage children and young people with ASD to seek out lots of different experiences, which in turn will help them boost their social interaction skills and embrace their diagnosis.
Michael’s talk provided lots of tips and tricks to the large audience of teachers and parents, including encouraging children to develop their artistic side. From an early age, Michael’s speech therapist adopted a visual approach to learning tricky expressions. These doodles and sketches have now been included in his book It’s Raining Cats and Dogs, An Autism Guide to the Confusing World of Idioms, Metaphors and Everyday Expressions 2012 published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers.