By Dongyun Kwon
A series of free workshops for autistic people will be held in Healesville.
The Auti-magination: Sharing Stories of Autistic Writers in the Yarra Ranges aims to showcase the talent, creativity and imagination of local autistic people.
Workshop facilitator Sandra Thom-Jones said the reason why she wanted to do workshops is because the current education system of writing doesn’t fit autistic people.
“A lot of autistic people are very creative and very imaginative, there are so many amazing artistic fiction writers, poets, novelists, short story writers and screenwriters,” she said.
“But we also know that, typically in schools, autistic people tend to be discouraged from writing because the way that writing is taught in schools and in universities is very prescriptive.”
“Many autistic people’s minds don’t work that way, we get an idea and we get very creative and we write amazing stories, and then teachers or university lecturers look at it and say, ‘No, that wasn’t the goal, we told you to write about this and we told you to write this many words in this format.’, which can be really soul destroying.”
The workshops will be led by two Healesville-based autistic authors, Sandra Thom-Jones and Lincoln Jones.
“We want to encourage people to write and provide them with support and guidance but not tell them this is the right way to do it,” Thom-Jones said.
“The idea of the workshops is to support them to write their stories in the way they want to write.”
Thom-Jones is the author of Growing in to Autism, which is a book about being a late diagnosed autistic person.
Jones is a creative fiction writer who published a book of short stories when he was in high school.
The workshops are funded by the Yarra Ranges Council (YRC) and supported by Healesville Living and Learning Centre (HLLC).
“At the end of the process, all of the participants will be invited to choose one of the stories that they’ve written and we’re going to publish those in a book, which will be available in all of the council libraries and local schools,” Thom-Jones said.
The YRC will help the process of the publication and distribution of the book to show the community how creative and imaginative autistic people are.
“HLLC is our auspice organisation which means they’re helping with all the administration and providing the venue for us free of charge,” Thom-Jones said.
The workshops will be held three times on Saturdays (16 March, 20 April and 18 May) between 10am and 1pm at the HLLC.
To find out more or to sign up for the workshops, visit the following website, www.autisticprofessor.com/auti-magination