This Thursday (10th July) we attended the Rochdale Boroughwide User Forum (RBUF) Involvement Day. RBUF exists to give voice to people who use mental health services. The annual Involvement Day provides an opportunity for people to come together and try out some fun activities, get advice and have a voice. We offered free circus skills workshops, meditation and Chill Skill sessions, play sessions and Reiki tasters. The event took place at Rochdale Cricket Club.
We put up a board with a timetable of activities. I started a circus skills workshop while Jo gave a Reiki treatment to the first "customer". RBUF organisers expected we'd need a quiet corner for Reiki but it was such a glorious day Jo set up on the cricket pitch next to me with circus skills in front of the seating i.e. we had an audience. Before long it became obvious that I'd have to abandon circus and join in with the Reiki action, it was so popular. We gave 2 chair treatments at a time for the rest of the day and though they were only 20 minutes long everyone who received a treatment reported that it was very relaxing and some had an emotional release.
You might be wondering why we would offer this when our main objective is to work with families affected by Autism? Well, did you know that at least one in three adults with Autism experience severe mental health difficulties? The figure is likely to be much higher as there are so many undiagnosed adults out there. And with 40% of children with Autism experiencing bullying at school I imagine that the figure will increase as these children reach adulthood. This is one of the reasons that we support early diagnosis and training for professionals. The earlier a family knows their child has Autism the sooner they can implement meaningful strategies. It goes without saying that if professionals working with children with Autism are well trained they can better meet the need of each child.
We know that people with Autism are amazing, talented and valuable to our society and want to see an end to Autism being synonymous with limitation and despair. I believe in a future where the unique talents and gifts that often come with Autism are celebrated and children can reach adulthood as healthy, happy individuals!
P.S. Figures quoted are taken from The National Autistic Society website.
Lindzi Miller and Jo Potts