Did You Make Your Vote Count?

Download this file

My 1200-1500 word piece for last semester’s portfolio. I designed it for the dummy magazine I created, Cognition – a magazine for parents with special needs children.
>Attaching the text in the designed spreads after this, just in case people don’t want to/can’t read the PDF above.

Did You Make Your Vote Count?

Apart from immigration, proportional representation and defence, there is a less considered aspect of the results of the 2010 UK elections. Polly Tommey, activist, editor and mother of a 14-year-old boy with autism, talks to Cognition about how the results of the General Election has ramifications for care of adults with autism, how she was criticized for doing something she believed in, and her plans to build an  Autism Trust in every county.

I am the mother of Billy, a 14-year-old boy with autism. When he was diagnosed, he was two and we did Tonight with Trevor McDonald and asked for help. There was no information about autism out there, and we wanted to know what to do with Billy who was very ill at the time. After that we were inundated with over 150,000 hits on the LWT site – people wanted help. It became apparent that something needed to be done. So I set up a newsletter so that people could answer each other’s issues and that turned into a magazine – the Autism File. We get many people writing in with their personal stories, so it’s not hard to put the magazine together.

Autism: The Unmentioned Word

Autism needs to be taken seriously by the main political parties and we want them to put it in their manifestoes. Mentioning the word ‘autism’ is a good start because we’ve got one in 40 boys in this country and one in 125 girls with autism. They’re going to grow into adults – what are we going to do with them? Where are they going to go?

We knew we had to appeal to the three main leaders this year, more so because of the general election. Last year’s ‘Dear Gordon Brown’ billboards, in which I wrote ‘Dear Gordon Brown, I can save you £508million a year. Please call me on my number…when it’s convenient. Many thanks’, was a success. I got my meeting with Gordon and Sarah Brown and Phil Hope, Minister of Care. Following that, they put me on an external reference group which advises the government on these matters. But this year, we want action and not just words.

The “Hello Boys” campaign follows on from that campaign. It says ‘ Hello Boys. Autism is worth over 6 million votes. It’s time to talk…’ We were advised by billboard professionals who said we had to do something that caught people’s eyes and get autism talked about and it certainly worked in that respect. “Hello Boys” is obviously talking directly to the three leaders. If it got the attention that we needed to take this to the next step, then it’s been worth it.

People from the autism community also feel that they will vote for a party that does more for adult autism care. They’re waiting to hear what I think about who it is they should vote for which puts a lot of onus on me. I’m never going to tell anyone to vote for anything; it’s got to be their decision. But I will state what it is that I feel and then everyone can make their minds up.

Reaction: Feminists and empty promises

As soon as the billboards went up, I got a fair few emails from women calling themselves ‘feminists’. They were of the opinion that it was disgraceful that I had to take my clothes off to get what I wanted. When I explained to them why I was doing it, they were fine or backed down. Well, I haven’t taken my clothes off. I’ve got a bra on. And you know what I think? I think it’s not a big deal when you deal with a cause such as this. I say to them: come and sit in my office for a week and listen to the calls we get and you’ll probably do the same if you could help these people. One mother emailed me and said she’d streak naked through Hyde Park if she thought it could help her son. It’s not like I was topless, it’s not like I was naked. I don’t think it was degrading at all.

We could have used a celebrity for the billboard campaign, but I don’t know of any celebrity that can talk about autism and that bothered me. If we got a celebrity on the board looking much better and grabbing attention, the problem with that is that they would be interviewed and I’m not sure that they would know what they were saying. I’m so passionate about what we’re trying to do; unless a celebrity has got the knowledge of autism, I don’t want to use them. If we mess this up just because we’ve used someone prettier and younger then it’s not going to help people with autism, which is what this is about.

All three leaders replied to me, which I thought was promising. But what I wanted was for them to write it into their manifesto of which only Gordon Brown’s team did. Gordon Brown mentioned the words autism and dyslexia, and said he was going to put more money into schools to support autistic and dyslexic people. They also pledged £500,000 for training the public sector. I was quite disappointed that David Cameron and Nick Clegg didn’t mention autism in their manifestoes.

Labour has been in power for a while and because of that and because we’ve managed to badger them, they understand that autism really is an issue. The problem is that if the other two get in, then we’re going to have to start again. That’s why my money is with Gordon Brown because although he’s not perfect, and nor is Labour – I mean, I’ve never voted Labour in my life – I do think that we’re starting to move somewhere with them. That means that I will support them because I need to get the autism issues carried on.

Building centres of excellence for autism

The Autism Trust, which is one of my ventures, is trying to build centres of excellence for autism. We need one in every county in this country because of the number of people with autism we’ve got. Anybody who has got any problem with a child with autism of any age can come there and get the help they need – be it a nutritionist or a dentist. The main point of the trust is that people with autism can go there and work. For example, my son is very good on the computer – we would try and get him employed to test computer games. We know a 43-year-old woman with autism who is brilliant at making scarves. She doesn’t know what to do with them so we would try and sell them in our shop.

We’re looking at land in Suffolk and Dorset at the moment. We have been offered land but it’s not suitable. It’s not suitable to put my son, for example, on a waste bit of ground where there are pylons going through it and it’s next to a motorway. And you know, I don’t think they should have second-best.

Autism is an international issue. It’s not just a British issue. We have the same high numbers and same problems of where they’re going to go around the world. We’re working with Dubai and the US through the Autism Trust so that we become part of a team where we all help each other. There are no rules and regulations, no leaders or no experts on this matter, because we haven’t had to deal with this before. So the idea about working internationally is that we form an international coalition, if you like, to work together to make the future of autism work.

And finally…

What’s next for me? First, it’s either working with Labour or getting to know the other party who might be in government. We really need to keep them aware that we’re here and as far as the campaign goes, that will always continue. Next, in the coming 12 months, the Autism Trust is working on getting the land for the centres and proving that what it is that we’re doing will work.


Dealing with an autistic sibling

When they told me Karan had autism … I didn’t know what it meant. I was only 13-years-old and they could’ve been telling me he was left-handed for all I knew (Karan seems to be ambidextrous though). Even months later, it didn’t make much sense to me. All I knew was: he was different.

I resented it for a while. I had been the only child in the house till I was 9. Then a new baby came in and it seemed as though he never grew up; he never moved on from being a child who needed constant attention. At the age of 13, which is when he was diagnosed, it was as if I was told: ‘Hey, you had your Mom till you were 9. That’s it. She can’t pay attention to you anymore.’ Instead of Karan growing up and Mom giving both of us some attention, I felt then, wrongly, that it was all about him and I didn’t matter anymore.

The resentment lasted a few months, sadly enough. I wish it had never been there, but there you go. I grew up in some aspects faster than I should have I think, had he not been autistic.

There isn’t anything of the sort now. Karan is my darling, the apple of my eye.

It’s hard enough as it is for a kid for deal with the arrival of a new baby in the family – it means you’re not the baby of the house anymore. Handling a sibling with some kind of special needs is a slightly different ball game. I think it depends on how you’ve been brought up, as well as your individual desire to be a part of your sibling’s life.

I must confess, I wanted a sister when my mother was pregnant. I got a brother. I imagined a brother with whom I’d have stupid fights. Instead, I got a brother who is intent on picking up my stuff and breaking them.

You know what?

I wouldn’t have it any different. I know better now.

The women’s gangs of India. – By Amana Fontanella-Khan – Slate Magazine

Sampat Pal Devi. Click image to expand.

Sampat Pal Devi of the gulabi In March, the Indian upper parliament passed a historic affirmative-action bill. If approved by the lower house, the law would reserve 33 percent of all parliamentary seats for women. You might think this would be well-received by rural women in India. But they long ago gave up on the government and have taken things into their own hands. India is witnessing a rise of vigilante groups, the most sensational of which is the gulabi, or pink gang, operating in the Bundelkhand district of the Uttar Pradesh state, one of the poorest districts of India. Some gangs have started what Indian journalists describe as a “mini-revolution” on behalf of women.

The founder of the gulabis is the fearless Sampat Pal Devi, 40, who was married off at the age of 12 to an ice-cream vendor and had the first of her five children at 15. The gulabis, whose members say they are a “gang for justice,” started in 2006 as a sisterhood of sorts that looked out for victims of domestic abuse, a problem the United Nations estimates affects two in three married Indian women. Named after their hot-pink sari uniforms, the gang paid visits to abusive husbands and demanded they stop the beatings. When obstinate men refused to listen, the gulabis would return with large bamboo sticks called laathis and “persuade” them to change their ways. “When I go around with a stick, it’s to make men fear me. I don’t always use it, but it helps change the mind of men who think they are more powerful than me” says Pal. She has assumed the rank of commander in chief and has appointed district commanders across seven districts in Bundelkhand to help coordinate the gang’s efforts.

Pal’s group now has more than 20,000 members, and the number is growing. Making her way from one far-flung village to another on an old rusty bicycle, she holds daily gatherings under shady banyan trees, near makeshift tea-stalls selling the sweet Indian drink chai and other popular village hangouts to discuss local problems and attract new recruits.

Pal has a long list of criminal charges against her, including unlawful assembly, rioting, attacking a government employee, and obstructing an officer in the discharge of duty, and she even had to go into hiding. Her feistiness has secured notable victories for the community, however. In 2008, the group ambushed the local electricity office, which was withholding electricity until members received bribes or sexual favors in return for flicking the switch back on. The stick-wielding gulabi stormed the company grounds and proceeded to rough up the staff inside the building. An hour later, the power was back on in the village.

While the gulabi use a mild level of force, more violent strains of vigilantism have been reported elsewhere in India among dispossessed women. In 2004, a mob of hundreds of women hacked to death the serial rapist and murderer Akku Yadav, after the courts failed to convict him over a period of 10 years. After the deed was done, the women collectively declared their guilt in the murder, frustrating police efforts to charge anyone with the crime. This kind of violence has generated concern among some Indian commentators, who say that while many vigilantes have noble intentions, too many of them are brutally violent.

What’s the context for this phenomenon? The Indian press often points to a host of ills plaguing modern India, such as honor killings, dowries, child marriages, and female feticide. These account for female despondency but not for the gangs as an outlet for it. In the past, many Indian women would have taken these pressures out on themselves, through self-immolation or hanging, for example. As women have gained political power, through initiatives like the affirmative-action bill, dispossessed rural women have realized that they can instead respond boldly and collectively to abuse. Why aren’t they turning to political activism as opposed to vigilantism? To begin with, the gangs offer more immediate benefits than politics does. Another reason is that female politicians rising to power from the lower castes have been dismal role models. These politicians have the potential to inspire poor women more than dynastic leaders like Sonia Gandhi, but they have disappointed the women they claim to represent by being as corrupt and criminal as the male politicians they despise.

Take Mayawati, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and the first female dalit—the group at the lowest rung of the caste system—to have attained such a high office. As the leader of a dalit party, Mayawati, who is considered prime-minister material, is criticized for focusing only on dalit issues while ignoring the concerns of women more broadly. Mayawati is also conspicuously corrupt—she has appeared at public events with garlands of real money around her neck and has spent millions erecting statues of herself across Lucknow, the state’s capital.

When Mayawati first heard of the rise of the pink gang, her first concern was not what she could do to help but whether it might pose a political threat. She tried to quash the group, then finally offered Pal the opportunity to run for local elections under her party’s banner. Pal refused this offer, as well as others she received from major national parties. As long as corrupt practices persist among both male and female politicians in India, many vigilantes will feel they have more to gain by staying out of politics than entering the fray.

The silver lining here is that while Indian democracy is too weak to deliver on the gender equality that is inscribed in its constitution, it is strong enough not to crush movements like the pink gang. This is also thanks to the free media, which has boomed since the ’90s and which glorifies the work of the gulabis. There is now a chapter of the pink gang in France. Cécile Romane, the head of the Paris gulabi, says that she has worn her sari in the city’s streets but has not yet needed to discipline men with her bamboo stick.

Even in the badlands of Bundelkhand, the gulabis are reaching for the bamboo stick less frequently these days, but for different reasons. “My real strength is not in the stick, it is in numbers,” Pal told the Hindustan Times. “And one day, we will be big enough to shake up Delhi, too.” She might just be right.

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Amana Fontanella-Khan is a Mumbai-based writer. She is a contributor for the Christian Science Monitor, the Hindustan Times, and CNNGo.com, a CNN travel Web site.

Photograph of Sampat Pal Devi by Manpreet Romana/AFP/Getty Images.

A really interesting piece on the “female gangs of India”. It’s quite sad that even after 63 years of independence, with education, laws and progress, women have to resort to violence to protect themselves. Better than being victims I say, but sad nonetheless.

Problems such as female foeticide/infanticide, dowry deaths, honour killings and so much more plague the women of India; who can blame them for picking up the lathi (stick) to defend themselves?

It’s paradoxical, as the author mentions, that the very government that cannot protect women cannot even crush what is a violent movement – justified or not.

Looking forward to the day when any group of people don’t have the need to use sticks and stones…

The day my son was diagnosed with autism

Guest post by Adita Divecha, Karan’s mother

I still remember the day my son, Karan, was diagnosed as autistic. Until that point, I had never heard of that word.

Karan’s developmental milestones were already delayed. He had sat up late, started walking late and at the age of one-and-a-half only babbled. I was a little worried but most people said that boys usually passed their milestones later than girls. At the age of two he had suddenly stopped looking at us, did not respond when we called to him and had started this funny ritual of running in circles, flapping his hands.

At this time, we were also looking to put him in a nursery school. The lady there who took our interview suggested that we get him checked by a doctor who specializes in developmental disorders. She said this because he was not responding to her and was being hyperactive and screaming and running around flapping his arms. Actually I felt she was a little rude in the way she was talking…she did not seem concerned…she just seemed rude.

So we went to Mumbai, India to see a doctor who specialized in developmental disorders when Karan was two-and-a-half. This doctor was one who was so busy that one had to take an appointment months in advance. Anyway we finally got to see him and he looked at Karan who was busy running around the room flapping his hands. I think we were there just for about 15-20 mins and the doctor said that he felt the child was definitely ‘autistic’. He explained a little what that meant and asked us to get a few tests done and we had to come back to him after we got the results.

So that started the tests…cant remember all of them…it was such a long time ago…but there were blood tests, EEG, Fragile X and some others.The Fragile X test was to see if his X chromosome was faulty…to see if he inherited his autism from his mother. Thankfully that was negative. I say “thankfully” because usually in our Indian society, people are very eager and happy to blame the mother if anything is wrong with the child.

After we went back to the doctor, he confirmed that Karan was on the autism spectrum but since we were based in Dubai, he suggested we get him assessed and diagnosed by a doctor there.

I had never heard of “Autism spectrum disorder” before. What I gathered from the doctor was that it was a lifelong situation which could only be helped with therapy and medication. It was a shock as I did not know how to react. I was confused and angry at the same time. Why did it have to be my child? But there was no answer.

But when I look back on those days, I realise that I never cried in front of anyone even though my heart was bursting with this enormous amount of pain. I have this habit of crying alone in the bathroom and showing the outside world what a strong person I am. All nonsense of course.

Anyway, all I knew was that we had to do all we could to help Karan come out of his shell and I was going to do it to the best of my ability.

Having an Absolute Ball

Download this file



My 800-1000 word piece for last semester’s portfolio. I designed it for the dummy magazine I created, Cognition – a magazine for parents with special needs children.

Attaching the text in the designed spreads after this, just in case people don’t want to/can’t read the PDF above.


Having an Absolute Ball

Sheffield Volunteering hosted Glo-Ball, a prom for adults with learning disabilities. How can adults with learning disabilities have a great night out and manage to mix Justin Bieber with the Beatles? Read on because Cognition will tell you how. 


The room was lit only by flashing disco lights. As the tunes of “Go Johnny Go Go Go!” deafened the ears, a couple were busy lip-locking on the plush sofa behind us.

As they came up for air, the boy’s shirt buttons clearly not doing their job, you could realize just by looking that they were not at an ordinary rave party or a prom night.

Cognition had arrived at Glo-Ball.

It’s ball season in universities. The time for formal wear, high heels, flowing glasses of champagne and condoms. Why should adults with learning difficulties and disabilities not experience the same as the rest?

Sheffield Volunteering hosted Glo-Ball at the University of Sheffield Students’ Union Fusion and Foundry halls to give these adults the opportunity to have their very own summer ball.

As Justin Bieber’s pubescent voice blared through the speakers, the attendees boogied without a care of the social hara-kiri they were committing. The Bieber is not something ordinary teenagers or 20-somethings would admit to listening upon pain of death. But these were special people.

Most were wearing fluorescent glowing sticks, handed out at the entrance by the volunteers. People in wheelchairs moved around with the aid of their support workers. Other volunteers helped some attendees to dance. Snatches of conversation included the “disastrous” coalition government amongst talk of how metal music “trumped” everything else.

Ryan Radford, 22, who has a learning disability and loves David Beckham said: “I’m enjoying myself. This is the first event I’ve been to and it seems nice.” He was with Joanne, 52, who said she was looking forward to the dancing later in the night.

They were accompanied by their support workers, Lilly Bashir and Tina Meah, from the voluntary support group Newfield View.

After jugglers, we met Dana Loxley, 36, support worker for wheelchair-bound Elizabeth Murphy. Elizabeth, 44, who has learning disabilities and is non-verbal, seemed fascinated by the strobe lights and loved the loud, thumping, ear-splitting music. Dana confirmed that Elizabeth loved events like these. “It gives her a lot of sensory stimulation,” Dana said.

With decorations glowing all over the venue and posters calling it a “UV Rave”, the party was certainly in full swing.

As a young boy started running and hitting himself, we sat down to talk to Norma Morgan, 67, and her adopted daughter, Bethan. “It’s my birthday today! And it’s Bethan’s twenty-second birthday tomorrow. So we’re celebrating at Glo-Ball,” chuckled Norma.

And when the highly-charged song “Sex on Fire” burst through the speakers, a new wave of energy flowed through the party-goers. Dancing with great abandon, those on the floor who could speak sang loudly along with the baritones of Caleb Followill.

Norma continued: “Bethan has Down’s syndrome. She can talk, but she’s very shy. She’s currently doing the Progression Towards Independence (PTI) course at Sheffield Mencap.”

The lead of the band on stage screamed out loudly at this point: “DO YOU LIKE ROCK AND ROLL?”

Judging by the wild screams from the dance floor, they did.

After the song finished begging Johnny to just go, the dancers applauded and whooped in approval. Then it was the turn of the Fab Four to engage the audience.

In the midst of the laughing, dancers and sore-lipped couples, it was endearing to see one man, his arms covered with intricate tattoos, getting ecstatic while holding a pink balloon. 

In the corner, Jeannette S*, 20, ran helter-skelter from one end of the room. Her support worker, Julie Shearing said that Jeannette had been to discos before with the organization ‘Under the Stars’ and enjoyed music immensely. “She likes Rihanna and Lady Gaga,” she said. Jeannette came up to us and said:  “I like this show. I like dancing.”

The atmosphere was electric as the night progressed. As the music got louder and louder, energy levels soared. Half of one of the amorous duos clambered on the DJ stand and started encouraging the crowd to sing a valedictory chorus. And tired but happy faces trooped out.




The Organizing Whiz

Andy Marsden, 31, Volunteering Co-ordinator of Sheffield Volunteering talks to Cognition about Glo-Ball.

“This was the third Glo-Ball we’ve organized and hope to run it again and build on this year’s success. There were about 150 adults and support workers, and 50 volunteers present. The volunteers definitely made everybody feel welcome. We had the Sheffield University societies involved as well. This time, we worked with more organizations and collected data from people attending the event and created a mailing list. We’re definitely in a good position to move forward.”

*Name has been changed

My brother is autistic; what’s your excuse?

[My 800 word piece for my magazine portfolio submitted last semester]

Labels are meant for jars, not people. With the words ‘mad’ and ‘retarded’ already accepted forms of insults, is the word ‘autism’ not far away from the dubious honour?



A copy of the sign I made for an autism walk in Dubai

When France’s European Minister Pierre Lellouche said that the Tories had castrated UK’s position in Europe by adopting an autistic approach and that they have a bizarre sense of autism, most people were debating about the ramifications of UK’s stand on the issue. A smaller minority expressed outrage about Pierre Lellouche’s use of the word ‘autistic’. I was one of them.

If Lellouche had called the Tories ‘homos’ or ‘niggers’, there would have been an outcry. So how did he manage to call the Tories ‘autistic’ by way of insulting them and get away with it? It doesn’t matter why he did it; his behaviour was inexcusable.

Too often people use disabilities as an abusive way of insulting the so-called normal human beings. A few years ago, my family and I were in a restaurant, my then 4-year-old autistic brother started crying and refused to calm down. A patron sitting at the next table looked over and said very loudly: “What’s wrong with these people? If they have retarded children, they should keep them at home.” Then we were asked to leave the restaurant by the management because ‘the other diners were getting disturbed’. It hurt. It hurt because my brother is not retarded. He, like thousands of other people has an autistic spectrum disorder. It also hurt because it was acceptable then (and still is) to insult someone by way of calling them ‘retarded’ and prevent them from experiencing a routine aspect of life. It’s absolutely abhorrent when one hears the word ‘retarded’ being thrown around as if it were commonplace even in classrooms in secondary schools.

Now it seems ‘autistic’ is the new way of doing it. Since when are mentally handicapped or autistic people not normal? They have a face, two eyes, a nose, a mouth. They look like other human beings. They even feel like everyone else. Being unable to communicate the way the majority of the population does doesn’t give anyone the right to insult them or marginalize the problems they face.

The general public doesn’t seem to have any idea of what autism is outside of Rainman. They think they’ve seen the movie and are therefore experts. Not every autistic person is a savant (a genius in some areas), not every autistic person knows how to wear their clothes themselves and not every autistic person can talk.

For me, autism is about the constant effort to wean my brother out of diapers at night. It’s about teaching him how to wear his shoes. It’s about helping him brush his own teeth. It’s about trying to teach him to do something as simple as imitate other people. The public haven’t got the first clue about the reality of autism. Until you’ve lived with autism or worked in the field, you ain’t seen nothing.

Which is why perhaps, it is not surprising that the public did not raise an outcry against the use of the word as an insult by Lellouche. One wonders if newspapers, in using his quote as their headline, inadvertently made it more acceptable to insult others similarly. I fear that, right now, people would find it perfectly normal (there’s that word again) to say: “You’re so autistic!” and mean it in a hurtful way. But I wouldn’t, in the middle of a fight, use it to be derogatory towards the other person. Because it isn’t.

Families dealing with autism did speak out about this in public forums. One father mentioned in a letter to a newspaper how his 11-year-old autistic son, who could read, had spent years building up a sense of self-esteem, knowing he was not like everyone else. The father in question threw the newspaper that used the quote as a headline before his son could see it. It is unimaginable how an autistic person would feel, reading such news and knowing that Lellouche used their condition as an insult. As if they already didn’t have enough to cope with, now their very being is deemed to be a matter of ridicule?

As for me, I didn’t have to protect my brother; he can’t read. Also, it helps as he lives in Dubai and the geographical distance meant that this did not make headline news.

Families dealing with autism know all too well that it is not derogatory to be autistic. It doesn’t make your child or you (if you’re autistic) a lesser person. I’ve found that autistic people are kind and prone to unconditional love and forgiveness.

Which is more than I can say for many of the ‘normal’ people out there.


Autism – a collection of unique disorders?

Note: As always, the work I do for my journalism portfolio for my MA Magazine Journalism course at the University of Sheffield are uploaded here. This one is my 300-500 word piece for the JNL6024 module in the spring semester. It says “Cognition reports” in the sell because as part of the module, we had to create a dummy magazine. Mine was called Cognition and was meant to be a magazine for parents who have special needs children. I’ll be uploading the designed spreads for my other pieces later on.



Electric signals sent by the brain may carry messages that could provide clues to the roots of autism, a Sheffield University psychologist says. Cognition reports.

The autism spectrum may not be a spectrum at all. Instead of a range of related disorders, Elizabeth Milne suspects the links are not as close as previously thought.

“Variations of autism – and what were assumed to be different aspects of autism – are perhaps a collection of unique disorders,” Milne, a leading researcher, said.

Autism is traditionally diagnosed on the basis of social impairments, but Dr Milne is trying to prove the importance of sensory impairments toward understanding the finer aspects of the disability.

“While sensory impairments can be recognized in some subjects, it was never universal. That seems to imply sub-types of autism, which to me is an interesting approach.” 

Autism does show variation between those affected by it – some have a higher IQ than others; some are verbal while others are not. 

Therefore, Dr Milne’s hypothesis could lead to interesting results with regard to future diagnosis.

She said: “My research focuses on sensory types of impairment that we often overlook when diagnosing autism. I really want to whether these impairments affect everyone who has autism or just some of them, and how it affects their daily lives.”

Dr. Milne is currently designing a large-scale study with a greater degree of testing measures in the field of motion perception in order to further explore her concept of autistic sub-types.

She is also using the method of measuring electric signals emitted by the brain upon the presentation of a stimulus so as to map the brain process of an autistic person.

She hopes to start recruiting participants in the next six months, with a testing sample of 40 autistic children and 40 in the control group.

Apart from publishing her findings and speaking about them at medical conferences, Dr. Milne is keen to explain to the people who participate in her study, what the aims of the research are and whether or not they have been achieved. 

“I want to feed back the information I garner from my research to the people who participate and make it clear to them. Most people would not understand medical jargon, so I would like to make results of my study accessible to everyone.”