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Laddo

Aspie meet ups

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Laddo   

A few members have expressed interest in an aspie meet up for members in their respective regions. I've always thought this is a brilliant idea to unite aspies around the country and would like to spark some interest. Now this is all just ideas and obviously nothing is concrete yet, but with enough support and planning I see no reason why this couldn't go ahead.

I think meet ups should be organised in a way that requires as little travelling as possible as quite a few aspies find travel stressful. Therefore the meet ups would ideally be organised into county or, in the case of larger, more densely populated counties, organised by county borough. The actual town or city in which a meet up is held would be decided by vote to be as fair as possible. Members within a region would volunteer to organise their meet up - this could be done by just one member or more, depending on how many people volunteer.
Of course, a big priority would be on safety of the members. I was thinking that the 'safety in numbers' approach would be best for something like this - I think there would have to be a minimum of four members per meet up to ensure the safety of other members. I'm not saying anyone on this forum is dangerous or anything like that, I just want to ensure that no one gets hurt.
Activities-wise, this would be up to the organisers of each local meet up and maybe decided by vote? Ideally the activities would not be somewhere too busy or crowded as this may upset some members.
So what does everything think of this idea? Feedback is very welcome, provided it's constructive. I would be up for organising a Kent or southeast meet up if any other members were interested.

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Laddo   

I was a naive idiot to think this would ever actually go anywhere. Sigh. Mods, can you delete this thread please?

Edited by Laddo

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Mihaela   

No, you're not naive. I for one, missed this post for I've not been able to spend long on the internet over the past few days.

 

As I said earlier, I'd happily attend a meet-up in my area. What I can't understand is why nobody is responding, but we must be patient and give them time to notice the thread. I'd even organise a meet-up if there were at least four of us, but my organisation skills aren't that good, so I'd expect someone to take over from me eventually. I agree on all your points and only wish it would happen.

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Laddo   

Okay let me try a little pilot. Please reply if you're interested:

 

First Southeastern Aspie meet up

 

Town/city: London

Meeting point: Science Museum

Date: 31st January 2015 (this can be changed to suit everyone's needs)
Time: 11:00am
Activities: A walk around the Science Museum. Let's keep things simple at first
If enough people are interested, I will contact the Science Museum and let them know of our intention to visit. That way hopefully the staff will make any necessary adjustments so as to avoid as little stress as possible. If anyone is interested, please let me know here rather than PMing me.
Edited by Laddo

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I love the idea of meetups but like I mentioned in the primary post, there are going to be problems with trying to travel, and distance is never something that you can simply overcome. I feel if the forum was bigger (I literally see the same three or four people every time I come on here) then maybe a meetup would be more likely for some, but I doubt I'm going to find anybody else on here that happens to live in York and I don't have the nerve to travel.

 

I'm not being a naysayer, and those that are willing to travel I'm sure will be more than happy to have a meetup, but for me this is still a pipe dream and incredibly far fetched at this time. I always wanted to meet up with people like myself as well...

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Mihaela   

I feel the same, Exodus. Why are so few of us active on here? We have so many members yet it seems they come and go at a great rate. I've not had the time to look through old posts for patterns. Maybe our mods could tell us more about this.

I find travelling alone very stressful, and I tend to stick to routines. I hate stations, airports, etc.due to all the noise, frantic activity, crowds, timetables, officials, etc.- so overpowering. All this is easier if I'm accompanied. I've found that carrying my cats with me has helped a lot, for it gives me a responsibilty to take care of them - and all three are very good travellers and will happily sit on my knee! There are certain routes that I know well, and due to habit, I find them less stressful. Locally I walk a lot, trying to avoid busy roads. I don't think I can afford too use buses anyway. Recently I went to an Autism meeting in Bradford which took me about an hour on the bus (expenses paid). I needed a day to recuperate - very tiring and stressful.

So, yes, travelling can be a big problem :( If there were more of us on here it would become less of an issue.

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I feel the same, Exodus. Why are so few of us active on here? We have so many members yet it seems they come and go at a great rate. I've not had the time to look through old posts for patterns. Maybe our mods could tell us more about this.

 

I find travelling alone very stressful, and I tend to stick to routines. I hate stations, airports, etc.due to all the noise, frantic activity, crowds, timetables, officials, etc.- so overpowering. All this is easier if I'm accompanied. I've found that carrying my cats with me has helped a lot, for it gives me a responsibilty to take care of them - and all three are very good travellers and will happily sit on my knee! There are certain routes that I know well, and due to habit, I find them less stressful. Locally I walk a lot, trying to avoid busy roads. I don't think I can afford too use buses anyway. Recently I went to an Autism meeting in Bradford which took me about an hour on the bus (expenses paid). I needed a day to recuperate - very tiring and stressful.

 

So, yes, travelling can be a big problem :( If there were more of us on here it would become less of an issue.

 

 

Perhaps travelling is a common issue with Aspies (I never really looked it up, but I'm aware anxiety is a great issue). I've got to say though, I feel I have quite a bit in common with quite a few people on here. I personally walk pretty much everywhere as well (I've never taken a bus by myself). People pick me up for rides but that's it. All of these problems just circulate and make me realise how difficult it will be to travel even to the other side of Yorkshire, should I ever go to University.

 

I don't want to talk about myself too much though. I think it's cute about your cats as well; I never thought cats could be that well behaved (unless you have some kind of magic touch).

 

Well, I've been looking for groups for about half a year now, and not a single one that I'm interested in is actually local. I hope I find something soon though and I hope you have luck finding yourself one too.

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Mihaela   

True, and I could well be within walking distance of you, Verbeia. :)

I do know a few local Aspies. I'll be seeing some today at our video project, and I'll be mentioning this to them. Of course, another problem is our difficulties with socialising. I was a bit nervous of this when I decided to join that project, but it's turned out very enjoyable for all of us - no stress at all!

Edited by Mihaela

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Laddo   

Even if it's just the three of you that would be enough for a York-based meet up I think. Of course it is up to the three of you what you do but this does show there are aspies living near one another.

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Laddo   

I must admit, this is not going how I hoped it would. It's so sad that there is so little unity among aspies

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Mihaela   

If I had my way there'd be more unity. Unity gives us strength in the face of the NY world, and we become very vulnerable if we don't stick together.

I really enjoy the video group I belong to. We all support one another and I feel a real unity in a safe environment where we can all be ourselves, and with no expectations. (There's even a garden and other rooms where we can escape to if we want).

And Verbeia, it doesn't matter whether we are diagnosed or not. That's just an official thing. All that should matter is that we self-identify as Aspies, or suspect that we are.

Edited by Mihaela

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I live in the North East, I don't think I'd be able to meet with anyone, but I wouldn't give up Laddo, you've made the first step :)

 

Just a few more people

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Mihaela   

I've been thinking. There are a large number of us out there, although it may not feel like that. According to the NAS, around 1.1% of the British population have an autism condition. Around half that figure don't have a learning disability. Also the male-female ratio is decreasing, and the rate of diagnoses is increasing. However, these statistics vary such a lot depending on all kinds of factors. It becomes a bewilderingly hit-and-miss affair. For example:

 

A much higher prevalence rate of 2.64% was found in a study done in South Korea, where the researchers found two thirds of the ASD cases were in the mainstream school population, and had never been diagnosed before., (Kim et al, 2011).

Researchers comparing findings of prevalence studies from different parts of the world over the past few years have come up with a more conservative median estimate of prevalence of 62 in 10,000. They conclude that the both the increase in estimates over time and the variability between countries and regions are likely to be because of broadening diagnostic criteria, diagnostic switching, service availability and awareness of ASD among professionals and the public, (Elsabbagh M. et al, 2012).

I suspect that there are still very many of us who don't even realise we have AS (just as I didn't until a year or so ago). We are forced to struggle against an uncaring NT world, erroneously believing that we only have ourselves to blame, we're 'weird', 'oddballs', 'in the wrong', 'useless', etc - a shameful state of affairs.

Ironically, our traits can be our own worst enemies. We like to be alone persuing our special interests; we feel socially inadequate; we're not good at social organising. These all work against us meeting one another ...yet we can talk for hours with others who share our own special interests!

What we all have in common is our AS and I feel we should all add this to our list of special interests. We must see it as a positive thing for it's essential to self-understanding. This would give us more incentive to meet up with others who share this common interest. It would help us enormously in fighting the daily injustices we receive from the NT world, and give us a much stronger voice. We don't need others speaking for us when we're united. We can speak out for ourselves.

This is why I find our local Aspie video group so inspiring. Even after a 4-hour session I find I'm still enjoying it - because we all passionately share a common interest in positive ways.

Edited by Mihaela

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Laddo   

I'm a bit dubious about the true statistic being so low. I see aspie traits in people so often yet they probably are undiagnosed. I'd be willing to bet that a huge proportion of scientific and creative communities have aspie traits. I wonder if the world's governments are aware of this but keeping it under wraps?

 

I think it's a great idea for us to include AS in our special interests. Considering the huge amounts of information we can collect on our special topics, I think autistic people would be the best people to carry out research on autism. Sadly, before we do this we need to change governmental views on us to actually allow us to carry out this research. We definitely do need more unity.

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Okay let me try a little pilot. Please reply if you're interested:

 

First Southeastern Aspie meet up

 

Town/city: London

Meeting point: Science Museum

Date: 31st January 2015 (this can be changed to suit everyone's needs)
Time: 11:00am
Activities: A walk around the Science Museum. Let's keep things simple at first
If enough people are interested, I will contact the Science Museum and let them know of our intention to visit. That way hopefully the staff will make any necessary adjustments so as to avoid as little stress as possible. If anyone is interested, please let me know here rather than PMing me.

 

I'm interested. :) Incidentally, when I originally joined this forum I was living in the same neck of the woods as Mihaela - see my intro from March 2011.

Edited by Aeolienne

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Laddo   

Awesome! :) The ball is officially rolling. Any other south easterners want to get in on this?

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Mihaela   

Well, well, Aeolienne... Skipton, that's only a few miles from here. I often go there. I was a regular at the Russian Tea Room - an amazing place, and a great shame it had to close. I also share every one of your listed interests, and I know where you worked too! (I once worked at a UAS) ;)

 

Keep the ball rolling, everyone!

Edited by Mihaela

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Well, well, Aeolienne... Skipton, that's only a few miles from here. I often go there. I was a regular at the Russian Tea Room - an amazing place, and a great shame it had to close. I also share every one of your listed interests, and I know where you worked too! (I once worked at a UAS)

Where was the Russian Tea Room? Must have been before my time. I arrived in Skipton in July 2010 - actually August, as I had to board with a colleague in Gargrave for the first three weeks. Oddly enough, Exeter used to have a Russian restaurant. It had closed down by the time Russia won Eurovision, so wasn't able to capitalise on that (although I heard that it had laid on a Ukrainian-themed night when Ukraine hosted the contest).

 

What's a UAS? Is that another company on the Broughton Hall business park? :-I

Edited by Aeolienne

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Mihaela   

It was right opposite the parish church - the best location in Skipton. A lovely big building with a garden by the river, lavishly furnished and decorated in the Russian style. It sold all kinds of Russian crafts (not cheap!) and all the staff wore traditional costumes. Russian style meals, music, newspapers, 120+ teas, etc. It also employed Romanians, Bulgarians, etc. It only lasted two years due the owner's failing health, but achieved nationwide acclaim. A great shame.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHpzMyYZ3aA

(I disagree over the 'tacky' bit!)

 

UAS? :D Nothing to do with Broughton Hall, but Upper Air Station. (I still have a couple of working radiosondes!).

Edited by Mihaela

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I work in Skipton these days :)

In Skipton proper, or Broughton Hall?

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Laddo   

Glad to hear it squeeg :)

Let's keep 'em coming!

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Hey, I'm in the North. I'd love a meet up, but I just noticed that it's quite possible some would be apprehensive about meeting up because of age/appearance issues. I'd see why maybe a 15 year old female might not want to meet up with a 30 year old man (for example, not necessarily true), especially if they had never physically seen this person, as opposed to general discomfort in meeting others that they only met online, despite their similarities. If there was any way to resolve this, I think more would feel more comfortable about a meet up?

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Mihaela   

I'd be happy to meet you KK, although I'm much older than you. All my friends are younger than me, quite a few around your age, a couple are aspies and the others work with me as volunteers. I seem to get on well with aspies of any age, but not so well with NT adults.

 

I split my time between W Yorks & Lancs, so could meet anyone in this part of the world.
Any meet-ups, whatever our age should be in safe public places, and parents/friends should be told in advance. :)

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Laddo   

Hey, I'm in the North. I'd love a meet up, but I just noticed that it's quite possible some would be apprehensive about meeting up because of age/appearance issues. I'd see why maybe a 15 year old female might not want to meet up with a 30 year old man (for example, not necessarily true), especially if they had never physically seen this person, as opposed to general discomfort in meeting others that they only met online, despite their similarities. If there was any way to resolve this, I think more would feel more comfortable about a meet up?

 

Yes, I can see how people would be concerned about this. I think the best way to resolve this is for there to be quite strict rules for potential meet ups, for example a minimum limit to how many people can attend. I think a minimum of 5 people might be good, but I'd like to hear others' thoughts on this. Meetings should always be in a public area - not, for example, at a member's house. A balanced ratio between the sexes would be ideal too if possible - I can see people being worried about a meet up with, say, 4 males and 1 female, for example.

The problem with this though is that too many people attending a meet up could be quite a daunting thought for some people. I myself would be a little apprehensive about meeting up with several strangers at once :/

I would love to hear other people's ideas on how we can get this to work

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squeeg   

The standard advice for these things is to meet in a public space—we nailed that one—and bring a friend. So anyone who has hesitations about their safety for whatever reason could have someone they know come with them. Minimum number of people is a nice idea but would be a shame if we didn’t meet minimum and then had to cancel. Personally I’m confident enough to meet one person on my own. In the end anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable won’t attend no matter what we do.

 

balanced ratio between the sexes would be ideal too if possible

 

I agree this is a nice goal but may also be hard.

 

 

One thing we could do is post photos of ourselves on here. Might help for people to know what we look like before turning up in person. Also makes it easier to find each other. I don’t know if some people might be uncomfortable posting their picture on here and might prefer only to share within private group of serious possible attendees. Hm, sorry if creating more questions than answers with that one.

 

Another thought: some kind of structure to the meetup might also help people feel more comfortable. Unstructured getting-to-know-you situations can be particularly difficult for aspies. I was thinking it might be nice to have a whole bunch of silly questions like What is the strangest item of clothing you own? If you were a pizza what kind of pizza would you be? And people could answer as many or few of these questions in advance on paper and then read out as many or few as they like. If people prefer to say nothing that would be fine too. Maybe people could bring things that they like or made and could talk about them. Perhaps we could do some simple games.

 

 

Why are so few of us active on here? We have so many members yet it seems they come and go at a great rate.

 

Part of ASD? A lot of us don’t feel much sense of community and so don’t value it. I can be like that sometimes but something changed in me a while ago and now I want to reach out a lot more.

 

Do you think some ground rules might also be useful like the same ones used to keep this forum a civil place? Not sure if creating rules might seem off-putting and imposing or comforting and reassuring. I think if we had any rules one of the rules should be to be nice about anyone who breaks them cause, you know, they probably don’t mean to and just screwed up.

 

I think it is really great you started this idea Laddo and I’m very enthusiastic about it. I can see there being quite a few potential issues with making this work but I don’t think you should give up on the idea without a fight as the rewards for getting it right could be very great. Persistence is key! Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.

 

Another thought maybe this is actually something you can’t organize in a general way i.e. not one size fits all and instead you will actually have to think about how you can best integrate each individual who wants to attend and be mindful to their specific needs. What I’m saying here is that maybe this is perfectly possible but just requires a bit more effort and commitment than it would do for NTs.

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Laddo   

That's a good idea about those who feel a little more nervous bringing a friend, squeeg. I would be happy to meet one or a few people on my own too but I would just like to make sure that the meet ups are as safe as possible. I'm wondering if there's a way to make this thread hidden to non-members, too? That could certainly help filter any unwanted people turning up to the meet ups.

 

We could post photos of ourselves, yes, but as you say some people may feel uncomfortable doing this. I personally wouldn't be against it, though. Maybe we could create a private Facebook group or something similar for the meetups?

 

I definitely agree that structure to meet ups is essential. I think the best way forward with this is for attendees to all make suggestions for what we do and the best dates for them and we can vote for our favourites. What does everything think about this?

 

Ground rules are another essential, I think. We don't want a lot of disagreements breaking out during the meet ups, after all.

 

I'd like to keep this all as democratic as possible so everyone feels involved, so the more ideas brought to the table the better :)

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Mihaela   

The standard advice for these things is to meet in a public space—we nailed that one—and bring a friend. So anyone who has hesitations about their safety for whatever reason could have someone they know come with them. Minimum number of people is a nice idea but would be a shame if we didn’t meet minimum and then had to cancel. Personally I’m confident enough to meet one person on my own. In the end anyone who doesn’t feel comfortable won’t attend no matter what we do.

 

Yes, that makes perfect sense. I'm also confident enough to meet one on my own too - as I did, when I walked back with an Aspie who attended an autism meeting last May. She'd barely said a word at that meeting and had never met me before. Little did I know at the time that she'd soon become my closest friend!

 

One thing we could do is post photos of ourselves on here.

Good idea. I'll do that if a few others would be happy about doing the same. - I'd be embarrassed if was the only one to do it! :unsure:

Another thought: some kind of structure to the meetup might also help people feel more comfortable... I was thinking it might be nice to have a whole bunch of silly questions like What is the strangest item of clothing you own? If you were a pizza what kind of pizza would you be? And people could answer as many or few of these questions in advance on paper and then read out as many or few as they like. If people prefer to say nothing that would be fine too. Maybe people could bring things that they like or made and could talk about them. Perhaps we could do some simple games.

 

Excellent ideas! ...and this is so true: Unstructured getting-to-know-you situations can be particularly difficult for aspies.

 

Part of ASD? A lot of us don’t feel much sense of community and so don’t value it.

 

Yet, it's a myth that most aspies don't want friends. Some may not, but I enjoy being with my aspie friends far more than with NTs. That doesn't mean that I don't also enjoy all my time alone with my special interests, etc. I feel I need a balance of the two.

I think if we had any rules one of the rules should be to be nice about anyone who breaks them cause, you know, they probably don’t mean to and just screwed up.

 

Yes! :) When we break rules we usually can't help it; when NT's break rules either they usually can or they do it out of genuine ignorance.

 

Another thought maybe this is actually something you can’t organize in a general way... maybe this is perfectly possible but just requires a bit more effort and commitment than it would do for NTs.

 

I think that getting to know each online first would be a big help. It would give us a better idea of what to expect in real life.

 

Now, to Laddo's points:

I'm wondering if there's a way to make this thread hidden to non-members, too? That could certainly help filter any unwanted people turning up to the meet ups.

I certainly wouldn't want unexpected strangers turning up. They could potentially ruin a meeting. :(

 

We could post photos of ourselves, yes, but as you say some people may feel uncomfortable doing this. I personally wouldn't be against it, though. Maybe we could create a private Facebook group or something similar for the meetups?

Most forums have options for private sections. It's easy to set up, so it shouldn't be a problem. I did this myself on a couple a couple of forums.

 

I definitely agree that structure to meet ups is essential. I think the best way forward with this is for attendees to all make suggestions for what we do and the best dates for them and we can vote for our favourites. What does everything think about this?

 

I agree in theory, but where we're thin on the ground, it might be less practical. I don't think that simply because not enough of us in any particular area are able to meet together, that this should prevent two or three people meeting, as long as common-sense safety precautions are taken.

 

Ground rules are another essential, I think. We don't want a lot of disagreements breaking out during the meet ups, after all.

 

Yes, and of course not. Rules should be kept simple. :)

 

 

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