Spotlight on Exhibitions: The Autism Show and Disability Expo
Our team are always busy, not only in the workplace but they are often out and about attending conferences and shows. Attending these events are so valuable, they not only further our team’s knowledge, evidencing their continuous professional development but also helps us to keep as up to date as possible on new products and services.
This month, two of our Occupational Health Practitioners, Julie and Aisha, attended their local Autism Show in Manchester. The show is in association with the National Autistic Society and is for professionals and members of the public.
The show had various talks and seminars running throughout the entire day, along with stalls and exhibitor’s sharing and advertising their services and/or support available for people within the ASD community.
Julie and Aisha attended the talks they thought would be relevant to their roles as OHP, and the rest of their time was spent looking at some of the exhibitor’s stalls and what they could offer.
Aisha expressed, ‘One of the talks that we found to be most useful was someone’s perspective and experience of getting a diagnosis of autism. We found this was eye-opening for us as practitioners, as we got to hear about the thoughts, feelings and emotions that could arise before, during and after getting a diagnosis. From this talk we were able to understand the assessment process from a participant’s point of view, and how it can be potentially anxiety-inducing for many.
We also attended a talk on the importance of using symbols to communicate with the autistic community. We learnt that images can be a powerful source of communication, as even if we are unable to understand verbal communication, we can utilise images to support understanding and reduce anxiety. Images can also be utilised for an autistic person to express their wants and needs, which can in turn support engagement and social interaction.
Additionally, another talk that we found to useful was based on the link between autism and anxiety and the strategies that can be implemented to reduce anxiety. We learnt that anxiety is proven to be more common within the autistic community, as they can be very conscious of their surroundings and have difficulties in certain situations, such as social interacting. They may also have a fear of failure of or of being judged. Some of the techniques we learnt that can be utilised to reduce anxiety include communicating effectively, allowing them to have frequent breaks, allowing them to plan ahead of time and providing them with any information they may require to do so and providing them with a designated space for them to go to if the anxiety does prevail.’
Aisha and Julie spoke to some charities in attendance, such as the National Autistic Society, who offer advice and guidance and who we can signpost our participants to. Also, they were able to see a range of new products and companies who we are able to develop relationships with, in the hopes of adding them onto our free and impartial database within Living Made Easy.
James, one of our Business Development representatives at Living Made Easy attended the Disability Expo this month in London. The exhibition is a ‘person-focused event for people with lived experience of disability’. Alike the Autism Show, the exhibition was open to the public as well as professionals to showcase their services and products.
As one of our business development representative, James was particularly interested in networking and building relationships with new manufacturers and companies, to learn more about the ever-changing market of products and services.
An area we are hoping to develop within our database and AskSARA, is information and services on sexual health. James was able to have a positive conversation with Jennie Williams, the CEO of Enhance UK, who are a charity seeking to change the views on sex and disability. After chatting with Jennie, James was able to feedback to the rest of the team with ideas on how we can approach and incorporate this topic, as well as suggesting new services we can offer.
James was also able to speak to a representative from Tree of Hope, which are a charity who support sick and disabled children. James found the conversation he had to be very insightful, as we are also currently expanding children’s products on our database; as well as adding a children’s section to our AskSARA.
During the afternoon, James attended a presentation by Kate Stanforth who is a dancer and wheelchair user. Kate spoke about the backlash and negative comments she receives for using the wheelchair in her performances, as well as having use of her legs to dance, even though she has chronic medical conditions. You can read more about her here in an article by The Guardian. James found Kate’s presentation to be eye-opening on the subject of living with a hidden disability, which we know that understanding and spreading awareness for is so important. Hidden Disability is something our Head of Service Caroline Callow is very passionate about and area of expansion across Health and Wellbeing.
Whilst at Disability Expo, James had the opportunity to speak to many new companies and manufacturers about listing on our free and impartial database, which is vital for us to keep as up to date and relevant as possible with new equipment. Amongst those were manufactures of sensory products, which is an area we are always looking to expand on, interactive therapy systems and mobility aids.
At Living Made Easy, we are always looking for opportunities where our team across all of Health and Wellbeing can attend events to learn and gather information to expand our knowledge and services. Julie, Aisha and James all had fantastic days and what they were able to report back to the team with new information, has been so valuable in enabling us to keep growing what we can offer.
We also attend many events up and down the country as exhibitors, to showcase what we do to the public and professionals who might benefit from our services. We love getting the opportunity to meet as many new people as possible, so to keep up to date with events we are exhibiting at, then please keep an eye on our social media pages. There will be more information on The Care and Occupational Therapy Show that we recently attended as an exhibitor soon, so watch this space!
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