12 go Speed Friending for the Lighthouse Union Autism Charity

What would it be like to have an important conversation at work or at a party and not be able to read the other person’s emotions?

How would you feel? Confused, anxious,? Apparently 55% of all communication is body language, 38% is the tone, and only 7% is spoken.

It is the non – verbal part of communication, like facial expressions, that someone with autism would struggle with. It is common stereotype that people with autism are robotic and without emotion, they do of course have emotions, they just see the world differently.

There are less than 7% of people with a learning disability and 15% with an Autistic spectrum disorder in employment. It is situations like gaining employment that often rely on “appropriate” interpretation of these subtle communication signals.

The Lighthouse Futures Trust is a truly wonderful charity that pushes for equal opportunities for people young people with Autism. They do this by focusing on their talents, strengths and interests and directly aligns employment experiences and opportunities to showcase this, giving them a real chance to have the full and rewarding career they deserve.

Lighthouse Union Autism Charity

The mini experiment: What’s it like to have Autism

A few weeks ago I joined a diverse group of bloggers in a mini social experiment. The “Speed Friending” event was hosted by The Lighthouse Futures Trust at their new shop and café. The aim was to find out how we would get on having a conversation in a mask that showed ourselves with absolutely no expression at all (Cue giggles all round at seeing our mugshots blown up, printed and ready).

Now, of course none of us can really ever know what it is like to have Autism. I wouldn’t event attempt to try and describe what it must really feel like, but this was a way of trying to understand a little more, raise awareness online, ask questions and start an open discussion.

The result

Ok so this was a lot harder than I expected, for one it was a reminder of the learnt communication skills we take for granted, really do make simple things like having a conversation, easy.I found myself looking into people’s eyes in a desperate bid to interpret response- were they interested in what I was saying? Were they looking away? I had no idea!

During, I accidentally found myself nodding intently to what the other person was saying, like an over enthusiastic puppy as if to overcompensate for the lack of expression. At one point I had to sit on my hands at one point, I had no idea I was so animated! We all agreed this “simple thing” it was pretty hard to do without emotion.

Bloggers in the charity shop
Planning our purchases
IMG_3880
Bake off eat your heart out

A brand new café and shopping experience  

Lighthouse Union Store Cookridge Leeds, itself is a natural evolution from what has started at the Lighthouse School. Warm, welcoming and with a treat selection that would make Mary Berry jealous, this new cafe, gift and charity shop makes for the perfect meeting spot. “From Prada to Primark” describes the clothes selection on their website and they weren’t wrong- there are some serious designer treasures to be found. True to form I bagged a few bargains on the evening of course.

Pssstttt …Love thrift and charity shops? Check out my 7 top tips for getting the most from your bargain hunting.