Autism Health and Wellbeing: our first birthday!

photo of a cake with lit candles spelling out "happy birthday"

Video by Rhi Lloyd Williams

Transcript

Hello and welcome to AutismHWB.com’s first anniversary.

My name is Rhi Lloyd Williams and I’m co-founder of Autism HWB alongside Florence Neville whose research, the whole website concept is based upon

Now you may be thinking “Autism hwb [pronounced hoob]?! That sounds a bit funny, that’s a funny word, rather than H.W.B!” H.W.B does stand for health and wellbeing, but hwb in Welsh, which is where I come from – I come from Wales – is the hub of something. So, I really liked the idea of this being a hub of health and wellbeing, this is a centre and that can radiate out. We can share the information that has supported us.

[0:40]

It also, funnily enough, means to boost something, to lift it up, to raise it up, which is another really nice meaning in Welsh for the word. So, autism hwb has so many positive connotations, and that’s what we’re all about. We’re all about amplifying autistic voices and sharing the solutions that we’ve come up with ourselves and what works for us rather than having people tell us what to do.

[1:06]

So much research into autism tries to change our behaviours, tries to fix us in some way and that didn’t seem right. And so, when Flo first did her research she wanted to look into how autistic adults research and come up with their own techniques for supporting their health and wellbeing.

Her particular interest is nutrition and she was already coaching people in how you can change how you feel like based on what you put in your mouth. And how different foods actually affect us in different ways. With things like anxiety, which affects lots of autistic people, looking at practical solutions and ways to actually make your life better.

[1:51]

And for me, creativity is my big thing. So, I’m a poet and playwright, and when I was touring with my play, The Duck, I was noticing how the creative aspect of what I was doing is what drives me forward. It’s what makes me feel good. And how having that in my life is what’s really important to me.

And so, after Flo had done her research, which is called Autistics, Autodidacts and Autonomy – which is a great name, I couldn’t have come up with a better one – it confirmed what she thought, that different autistic people were really, really working out their own ways, using our own problem solving and pattern thinking and natural ways of thinking about the world.

[2:34]

We weren’t just finding techniques. We weren’t hearing about meditation and then doing it like that – no, no, no, no – we were working out why you do meditation. We were looking into things in so much more detail and then coming up with our own paths. Each and every person with their different ways of doing things.

And that’s such a celebration. It’s a real celebration of difference. And that’s what we wanted Autism HWB to be. We wanted to be able to share that research, because what is the point in research that doesn’t actually lead to improving people’s lives?

[3:04]

So, Flo and I, just over a year ago, sat down and decided to start this website. To start the idea of encouraging the voices of the autistic community. This wasn’t about just sharing our own techniques, this was about other people being able to engage, and share, and take ownership, and enjoy who they are without judgement. Without feeling like this is a weird thing to do. Because it’s not strange to come up with your own techniques. And that was really, really important for us to share.

[3:36]

One thing that really interests me about all the posts we’ve had over the past year – and I am so grateful to everyone who’s got in touch and sent their words in, it’s been an absolute pleasure to read them all – It’s just how varied they all are. We’ve got things on visualisation, meditation; we’ve got nutrition, we’ve got exercise, we’ve got physicality, then we’ve got creativity.

There’s no one thing, and I’ve loved reading them all, and many of them I go “well that’s not necessarily something I do, but perhaps actually I might steal that bit of it, or steal that bit of it, because that, I can make work.”

[4:16]

There’re things about nature in there, the importance of nature, and it made me realise that I spend so much time in nature, I love interacting with nature, and I hadn’t realised that actually that was a health and wellbeing technique that I was already doing.

It’s been absolutely fascinating learning so much about so many of you. And I know many of our writers have said they’ve felt like it’s taking real joy out of what they do, being able to share it with other people, it really does help them towards feeling accepted and it’s helped towards their own self-acceptance, which is just an absolute joy to be a part of.

[4:55]

So that’s this year, what are our plans for the future? Well we are planning on expanding, keeping going. We’ve already expanded our team, which is really, really exciting. We are no longer just Britain based. We were already over two countries, England and Wales, and now we also have the gold old US of A involved.

We have the marvellous Riah Person who does creative movement and celebration of stimming, and with her dance background, just watching her do her videos is incredible. I really, really strongly recommend you watch them to understand what I mean.

[5:30]

And then we have Cass Nelson who is an amazing artist. She’s an oil painter, writer, photographer – incredibly talented – and she already does a lot of work with supporting neurodivergent artists and sharing their own work, which is to be commended.

We have Dr Laura Weldon, who is a naturopath, who already works in the field of mental health and wellbeing and supporting neurodivergent people to live their best lives and be healthy and happy in this world.

[6:01]

So we’ve got a really strong team now! What’s really nice is we all cover really different angles and we are all able to work to our strengths so this is about working together so that we are not having to do things that are difficult for us. We all have different skills, we all have different difficulties, and that’s one of the advantages of our expanding team. But we very much want this to be a positive experience for everyone involved.

[6:32]

Now, if you did feel inspired to get involved with your own health and wellbeing technique, whatever it is, then please do get in touch. We can support you in writing. We don’t just need people who are writers, that’s not what we are interested in. We can use different techniques to get your story across. What we want are your techniques. What we want is to be able to share all these things, all this knowledge that people already have. Instead of having people tell us what to do, we want to be able to offer it to the world.

So please do get in touch through the contact sheet. There are guidelines on how to do it and we can work with you on creating something absolutely brilliant.

[7:06]

So that’s what we’ve been up to this year! Now, what does the future hold for Autism HWB?

At the moment I think we need our health and wellbeing more than at any other time. It’s been such a tough year for everybody. I don’t think anybody’s got through unscathed. Even those of us who don’t mind being at home, who’ve felt not as restricted as others, there have been tough times. There has been change, there has been loss of routine, and there has been uncertainty.  And all of these things take a heavy toll on us.

And so looking to the future, we want to increase what we do. We want to provide more page resources, we definitely want more blog posts – anyone who’s got any ideas please do get in touch – and hopefully we are going to put together some podcasts, so that we can make the site even bigger and discuss some things in more detail, which would be really, really fun.

[8:02]

Thank you so much for listening to me rambling on. Welcome to Autism HWB if you’re here for the first time and thank you so much to everybody who’s got in touch, who’s shared our work, who’s clicked through this year. It’s been such an amazing first year and I cannot wait to see what the future holds!

Published by Rhi

Writer, poet, playwright and blogger, and as of a few years ago, diagnosed as autistic too. Just one more label to add to the multitude.

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