What’s the collective noun for a group of autistics? Jolene Stockman says it’s an awesomeness!
8 June 2020 – With the country locked in, and in-person meet-ups out, Altogether Autism asked: What if we created a space for autistic adults to get together online?
Hosted by dynamic duo Paul “Authoritative Beard” Freeman and me, the By Autistics For Autistics Group kicked off on Friday afternoons during lockdown.
The results have been so good, we’re going to keep it going! Here’s how it looks: We meet up once a week in a dedicated Zoom room by invitation only. In true autistic fashion we outline the rules, then jump straight in (i.e. find our own way guided by the hosts). There are no dreaded introductions or tell us about yourself. People snack, bring pets, type in the chat, turn their video off, or stay on Mute and listen quietly. And however you choose to participate? No one gives you the look.
There’s never any pressure, and always a nice mix; genders, ages, occupations, interests, lots of laughs, and (my favourite part) coming away knowing that in all your uniqueness, you are not alone.
Autistic adults are a mysterious lot; clever, intense, creative. We’re all different, but one thing many of us have in common is a sense of otherness, of feeling different -being different- from the people around us. (For me, connecting with autistics from across New Zealand has been both a relief and a surprise. What, you means there are people like me?!) Whether you’re newly diagnosed, old-school Asperger’s, super-social, totally awkward, or somewhere in between – you’re welcome to come along, and better than that: you truly belong. There is something really special about being in the same (virtual) space with people who are like you, even for just an hour, once a week.
If you’re an autistic adult, and looking to connect with other autistics without the logistics and (shudder) people-ness of real life meet-ups, come and check us out! We get together (on our screens) from 2-3pm on Fridays and (coming soon) Sundays. There’s no cost, no commitment, and nothing to lose. And if you need help to navigate the technology, we can help with that, too.
Curious? Want to come along and check it out? Get in touch with us today.
- Jolene Stockman is a multi award-winning Taranaki writer and tangata whaitakiwātanga (an autistic person).
- Since her adult diagnosis and TEDx Talk, Jolene has become a trustee for innovative not-for-profit Autism Connex and is excited to raise understanding and optimism around autism.