From neurodiversity to neuroleadership, equal voices enabling choices and diversifying thinking.
The main aims of the Autism Dialogue Approach® are
- To support and benefit neurodivergent / autistic people and those affected, especially families and relevant organisations.
- Release into society what we believe to be huge untapped potential in neurodivergent / autistic minds.
- Improve cohesion of the autism communities through raising of understanding, awareness and acceptance of autism.
Autism Dialogue is a focussed and friendly approach to communicating together. Our four years of experience we have shown it facilitates recovery for those affected and increases wellbeing and empowerment for autistic people and their families. It also addresses issues and creates positive change in practice, research and public attitudes and produces more inspired and cohesive autism-support organisations. Our approach is backed by a sound, empirically-based legacy and has a strong support base. By facilitating these dialogues we aim to make the world a more inclusive, friendlier and vibrant place to live.
Jonathan Drury and Professor Liz Milne set up our first ‘Autism Dialogue’ at the University of Sheffield in 2017 with 12 other people, some of whom were autistic. After a series at Sheffield Hallam University, we then moved out into the community, every month attracting people from the region and nationally for our annual conferences. In 2020 we registered Autism Dialogue Approach® as a trademark.
We are the first organisation in the world to apply Professional Dialogue socio-therapeutically and specifically to the field of autism. Connecting with others is the most effective way of staying healthy (New Economics Foundation, 2020) and autistic people are four times more likely to be lonely than non-autistic people and are more likely to experience social anxiety (NAS, 2018).
In 2020 we received grants from both NHS/CCG and the Royal Society of Arts to support our ongoing work and in response to the Covid-19 global pandemic. In 2021 we began working with Derby City Council and NHS Derbyshire CCG as well as Scottish Autism, providing a weekly support group using Mindful Dialogue throughout 2021. We are also a regular provider of specialist autism coaching and support groups to two national charities.
Discussion vs. Dialogue
Our conversational modes such as discussion and debate are often competitive so views of autism can be polarised, for example as expressed via social media, providing little scope for nuanced discussion and active listening. Professional Dialogue has the potential to make a positive difference in the way autism is understood by all. A principle of Dialogue is that individuals try to build upon others’ ideas so that new knowledge and a collective understanding can be formed. In this respect, Dialogue could play an important role in accelerating discussion via a common understanding and increasing social and professional cohesion of the whole autism arena and beyond.
Our vision is become a world leader in autism and neurodiversity dialogue facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting.
“I’ve never seen an event of this kind for and with Autistic people that was so calm and inclusive.”
– Ian Dale, Head of Research, National Autistic Society.
Autism is an ideal focus for Dialogue, because of a perceived growing disparity between viewpoints and a growing feeling among autistic people who feel unrepresented and overlooked in research (Pellicano et al. 2013). Dialogue is by default, a genuinely participatory modality and whilst research has been a central focus for many of our dialogues, it has proven challenging to traditional research for this very reason! Our researcher-directors have built a catalogue of understanding of how scientific research can take place (including the forming of proposals) and we are happy to discuss this with other researchers (including early careers and Masters students) and suitable funding bodies.
The Autism Dialogue Approach® works with a more flowing, holistic style of language to correlate with the fundamental experience of autism, a phenomena of our time…
“In dialogue we look at the dynamic fields that arise in each moment, continually shifting, among groups of people.” – Prof. William Isaacs
“Autism is the direct perception of the forming of experience.” – Prof. Erin Manning
“Dialogue helps us see dynamic processes by slowing down thought and language, together.”
– Prof. David Bohm
We are a growing community that aims for deeper understanding and social cohesion in autism and neurodivergent life.
According to the New Economics Foundation, connecting with others is the most effective way of staying healthy (2020). Research also shows that autistic people are four times more likely to be lonely than non-autistic people and are more likely to experience social anxiety (National Autistic Society, 2018).
Autism Dialogue Approach® is a registered trademark.
Read ‘Professional Dialogue for Autism’ article on the RSA website.
The internet allows us to do our work easily and research shows people with Asperger Syndrome and (so called) high functioning autism (in this context) are comfortable using the internet for communication purposes (Benford and Standen, 2009). The connection between local and international beneficiaries is important to our developments of perceived cultural differences in autism and building bridges globally will help build a conceptual framework for scaling whilst remaining fully aware of cultural differences here in the UK.
We hope you can join us! Ask a question.
Benford, Penny & Standen, Pj. (2009). The Internet: A comfortable communication medium for people with Asperger syndrome (0S) and high functioning autism (HFA)?. Journal of Assistive Technologies. 3. 44-53. 10.1108/17549450200900015.
National Autistic Society (2018). Hidden crisis: Autistic people four times more likely to be lonely than general public (30 April 2018) https://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/media-centre/news/2018-04-25-hidden-crisis-autism-and-loneliness.aspx
New Economics Foundation (2020). Five Ways to Wellbeing at a time of Social Distancing. https://neweconomics.org/2020/03/five-ways-to-wellbeing-at-a-time-of-social-distancing
Pellicano, L., Dinsmore, A., & Charman, T. (2013). A Future Made Together: Shaping autism research in the UK