Case Study – Alphabetically Autistic
When we set Alphabetically Autistic up we weren’t really sure of the best way of doing it, however Toni Clark, Social Enterprise Business Advisor, from The Business Factory, was there to help us review our options and make the right decision, to set up a CIC.
As a Community Interest Company (CIC) we would have fewer restrictions than a charity, but with access to grants and support that we wouldn’t get as a small business.
The best of both worlds!
Alphabetically Autistic was set up to help educate to help spread awareness with regards to autism the autistic spectrum, helping people to better understand and interact with those with autism.
Alison and Christine were tired of people judging them as a family, tired of fighting for everything their children needed.
People with autism are not badly behaved, they’re not stupid. All too often autistic children aren’t diagnosed, especially girls, and they miss the opportunity for help.
The previous generation didn’t even know autism existed and children would simply be marked down as disruptive or naughty, instead of trying to understand them and how to help them.
It’s okay to be different and we need to deal with this behaviour differently, we need a different way of thinking.
Is it really so bad when a child might want to sit under the table as opposed to at the table?
Is it such a problem when they don’t feel they can wear their uniform?
Highlighting the differences adds to the isolation. It creates stand-offs between individuals and often leads to a meltdown!
It’s not one size fits all, we need to build on their individual skills and interests as opposed to forcing a standard curriculum on them. OK, it might not be easy due to the resources available, but we need to look at the individual, we need child-led learning.
And it’s not just those who are autistic that need our help, we also need to consider their siblings, their parents and their friends.
At Alphabetically Autistic we share our lived experience!
It’s not academically taught, we’re not reading from a book, we know and understand the situations that a lot of autistic people and their friends and families experience on a daily basis.
We’re practical not perfect! There is no right and wrong, we are about sharing our experiences, having honest and open dialogue with people to help improve the lives of those affected by autism.
We do this in a number of ways which includes:
Our educational play Really Riley was launched in January of this year and it has gone down really well with teachers and pupils alike, indeed we were blown away by the input from pupils during the Q&A workshops we run after the play. Our plan now is to deliver the show / workshop to as many schools as we can.
Our main play The Life of Reilly which has been getting five star reviews from critics. It has been performed at The Fringe festival in Edinburgh and we are in discussions to turn it into a film to allow us to reach a wider audience.
We offer counselling through Kelly who is a specialist in counselling in and around autism
We are all about education and awareness and have plans through our production company, LOR Productions, to produce work that is not necessarily related to autism.
The Business Factory not only helped us set up the business, they have been with us every step of the way as we have grown and developed, providing tools, training and support.
Toni made setting up the business so much easier. She would help us with paperwork, offer advice, and would often act as a sounding board for ideas.
She helped us start the business, providing us with a variety of templates with which to build business plans, marketing plans, etc.
Toni also put us in touch with a number of The Business Factory’s specialist consultants to help us with specific areas such as marketing and PR.
They also provided access to a great range of training sessions. To date we have completed sessions in social media and are currently looking at support with regards to writing press releases.
Once the business was set up Toni did of course step back but was always there helping us, as and when we needed her. Indeed we still call on her from time to time, she’s been so supportive and is someone we now call a friend.
We are proud of what we do and believe are also already making changes but there is a lot of work to be done.
We recently targeted better school transport for those with special needs and are pleased to announce we are now in discussion with North Tyneside Council about providing awareness for 400 or so taxi drivers and escorts they use, helping them to better support the autistic children they transport / help look after.