Scotland Argh! Europe 2015, Day 3

Good Evening from Edinburgh!
I’ve completed another country on my personal visit list and my autism advocacy speaking list, with today’s visit to Scotland.
I started the morning very early with a 7am flight to Glasgow. I should say that I actually only got about an hour of sleep, which included several “Inception” style dreams-within-dreams. Those don’t happen often for me, but it was certainly odd. After waking up about 1am, I proceeded to get my mind racing with various thoughts on autism research ideas and my trips ahead. I never fell back to sleep so I’ve been up since about 1am this morning.
After my flight to Glasgow, I proceeded to the Millenium Hotel to meet up with Charlene Tait, the development director of Scottish Autism. 
Once Charlene arrived, we headed to a meeting room for the multi-part video interview of myself, that will be ultimately shown as part of resource materials to parents and other individuals related to Scottish Autism.
We covered segments regarding my autism diagnosis, education, employment and general outlook on the state of ASD supports, among other things.
After the interview segment, I hopped on a train to head to Edinburgh.
Once arriving in Edinburgh, I headed to Edinburgh Castle which overlooks the city. I took many photos of the different parts of my self-guided audio tour and learned many neat things, including how the castle entrance gate was partially dedicated to William Wallace of Braveheart fame. 

After visiting the castle, I made a short visit to a local church to admire the stained glass windows and memorials to some impactful Scottish people. One memorial I found to be interesting commemorated the person who discovered Cholorform Anestesa. I guess that was something important with Scottish medicine.

I ended the day with a dinner at the hostel. I’m headed to bed fairly shortly, as I have another early flight tomorrow to London with an ultimate destination of Wales tomorrow night for Friday’s autism event.

I’ve posted more pictures on my Facebook page instead of here, as tonight the wifi is a little spotty and is giving me trouble uploading things.

   
    
    
     

  
 Until next time,

Best…

-The ZEZ

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Speaking at Stormont, Europe 2015, Day 2

Good Evening from Belfast!

Today was another busy day and included me speaking at an Autism NI event at Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland General Assembly.

The morning started with me being picked up at my hotel by Dr. Arlene Cassidy, the CEO of Autism NI.

She recently purchased a new Jeep and it came with a mini Jeep which she keeps on her dashboard. By the way, both times I was about to enter the car, I tried to get in on the right side, which is of course the driver’s side here in the UK. Arlene said she thought about getting me a toy steering wheel for the passengers side to make me feel at home.

  

After Arlene and I had a short coffee, we headed to Stormont for the speaking event.

The shop we had our coffee in had chocolate boxes that could be given as thank you gifts for watching pets. I figured it was sort of a novelty gift, but Arlene told me that apparently in the UK, people do indeed give chocolate boxes as thank you gifts for others watching their pets.

  
Once at Stormont, aside from speaking to the attendees, which consisted of members of the Northern Ireland General Assembly, Autism NI staff and other local autism supporters, I listed to a speech from a young man who lives here in Belfast. He was the Northern Ireland  representative for the autism advocate portion of the event and he spoke about his schooling.

My speech covered my autism advocacy story and how I ended up in Northern Ireland.

   
    
    
 After the event ended, I was presented with a lovely ornament as a gift that featured a painting of Stormont. I will be certain to hang it on my Christmas Tree as a memory of my time in Belfast!
Once I returned back to my hotel, I had dinner at the hotel cafe, which consisted of fish and  chips, with cheesecake and tea for dessert. A true Irish meal I suppose!

   
 
I am now headed back my room to relax and get to an early bed, as I have to get up very early tomorrow for my 7am flight to Glasgow, Scotland.

Until Scotland…

Best,

– The ZEZ

 

No Sleep Till Belfast! Europe 2015, Day 1!

Good Evening from Belfast, Northern Ireland!

Today has been a whirlwind exciting first day of my 2015 Europe trip. Yesterday I left Chicago, after spending an overnight with my brother in the Windy City and headed towards Dublin. After arriving in Dublin early this morning, I immediately got on a train for Belfast, to prepare for my first speaking event of the trip, which took place earlier this afternoon.

When I arrived in Belfast, I was greeted at the train station by the Branch Officer of the National Autism Society (NAS) North and West Belfast branch, Sarah Burrows.

After getting checked in to my hotel, I then reunited with Sarah at her offices in downtown Belfast for the event. The speaking time was fantastic and I received many questions about disability supports,  disclosure and bullying, among many others. Many times, I suggested having a high school or guidance counselor help to work with the students as they transitioned into college life. This allowed the counselor to still provide feedback for the student, while remaining in the life of the student outside of the college environment.

  

  
The questions lasted for about 45 minutes and it’s the longest Q&A I’ve had so far on the speaking circuit.
After the Q&A, I went to dinner with Sarah and her co-worker Stuart, which was very good.

Tomorrow, I will be connecting with Autism NI and speaking at the Northern Ireland parliament building, so I am looking forward to that. 

I can barely keep my eyes opened as I’m typing, so I am going to end this blog entry for tonight.

Until next time…

Best,

-The ZEZ