City of Sanctuary: Portsmouth arts organisation aims to change attitudes on autism and dyslexia

AN ARTS organisation has vowed to change attitudes on autism and dyslexia.

By Millie Salkeld
Friday, 29th November 2019, 1:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 8:45 pm
Jon Adams and Donna Bish from Flow Observatorium 
Picture: Sarah Standing (170545-6344)
Jon Adams and Donna Bish from Flow Observatorium Picture: Sarah Standing (170545-6344)

Jon Adams from Flow Observatorium, a charity based at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth, is determined to give more people a voice.

The organisation has created a creative community for autistic and dyslexic people.

The 58-year-old, who is autistic and has PTSD, said: ‘The problem is lots of people try to do things for autistic people but they don’t actually ask them what it is that they want or need.

‘They think we are broken but we aren’t.

‘Researchers want to cure autism but it is a part of us and I think being under this umbrella is very worrying for many people. We just think differently to people and in actual fact no one thinks the same otherwise life would be very dull.’

Jon said society has not yet adapted its ways to allow for people who think differently.

He said: ‘Accessing healthcare, education and work is very hard for autistic people because of the way it is set up but autistic people want to work and be a valued member of society so we want to make changes but we need to be a part of that and speak for ourselves.’

Jon thinks getting their message out there will be boosted by the news that Portsmouth is to become the first City of Sanctuary for autism, and the charity will join the network across the city to help any and all vulnerable people.

More than 80 organisations and groups are already involved in the Portsmouth City of Sanctuary initiative – including Portsmouth Football Club, the University of Portsmouth, ArtReach and the Red Cross.

Jon said: ‘It is great to be a part of City of Sanctuary because I think it gives us a bit of authority and will help us to share our message. We want to draw a line in the sand in society and start to be part of society rather than apart from it.

‘We don’t want to be patronised, we want to be part of it all and we want to help others to feel like they are living a fulfilled life.’