Mark Lever Interview Part One: Ask Autism – What Happened Next?

National Autistic Society Chief Executive, Mark Lever

National Autistic Society Chief Executive, Mark Lever

Welcome to the first part of the interview I conducted with Mark Lever – Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society (NAS).

This interview was an in-depth and wide-ranging one and the various topics covered will be featured across six parts between 27th April – 2nd May 2015. Please click here read to the Introduction to this interview if you haven’t already.

This section explains the background to the interview and looks behind the scenes at ‘what went wrong’ with the NAS Ask Autism training programme which was designed as a commercial training product involving autistic contributors delivering training to a non-autistic audience.

At the end of this part of the interview there is a case study from Ask Autism contributor David Mery discussing his experience of working on the Ask Autism programme.

Key Quotes from Mark Lever:

“The best autism training comes from autistic people who deliver that training”

“For a lot of people who’ve been involved in the development process it wasn’t a happy process…”

“I think there are a number of people who work in the organisation who are good people, you know they’re well intentioned, but they don’t have sufficient experience of working with autistic people”.

Background to the Interview:

As Founder & Editor of The New Idealist magazine, in August 2014 I published ‘The Autism Issue’ of The New Idealist. As part of the ‘Online Extra’ section I authored an article entitled “Ask autism: How the National Autistic Society let Greed get in the way of its Goals” which assessed the apparent NAS prioritisation of business ‘profit’ over charitable ‘service’ around the launch of a new online training tool called “Ask Autism”.

I used the Ask Autism project as an example of why the NAS didn’t seem to follow a ‘charity ethos’ which puts service users first. Not wishing to duplicate the themes of that article in this one – you can read it here if you would like some more background information [Article will open in a new window].

Recently it transpired that a network of autistic people had identified with the themes of the article and had been sharing the article and discussing the topics covered amongst themselves. People then started contacting me privately and sharing additional information on some of the working practices and policies of the NAS they were concerned about. I then posted a comment on the article announcing my plans to research the number of autistic people employed by the NAS.

This was because I wanted to explore the view that the NAS – which has 3,600 employees – doesn’t have any key autistic decision makers at senior level.

Less than three hours after I posted this comment NAS Chief Executive Mark Lever responded by posting a comment on the article himself inviting me to meet him to discuss the issues raised.

Behind the scenes there was some discussion around what time to meet (I requested to meet in the afternoon so I could travel from Manchester to London on a cheaper off-peak ticket – Mark initially came back with a morning slot not realising the peak fare price and subsequently rescheduled the meeting to 12pm).

The NAS covered the train fare after Mark mentioned he was ‘conscious of my travel costs’ and I asked if he would cover them since he requested the meeting.

Once the meeting was confirmed I contacted my network of autistic people and asked them to forward any questions they would like me to ask Mark as he had generously offered me a two hour slot.

A flurry of responses followed resulting in a rather long list of quite tough issues to cover in addition to the areas I wanted to explore  and I have incorporated questions sent in by others in addition to my own throughout this process.

Setting the Scene

This interview took place in Mark’s office at the NAS Head Office in London. After the introductions were over, Mark poured me a glass of water (which he graciously kept topped up during the interview) and started asking me about my background.

I explained my ‘day job’ is running a career management agency and he started telling me about a new ‘small business support’ project he was looking to get funded:

Mark: “…how do we support people with autism in running their own business because I was really interested in what motivated people to work and I can remember when I first arrived here seven years ago now, I remember asking a group of adults just to come and sit down and talk to me about work and what they want to do and it was quite interesting actually because they said ‘the problem is Mark you think we want a job – we don’t want a job we want to be paid for doing the things we like doing!’

And a lot of them said that in an ideal world they want to be a photographer, a writer, they want to write plays – that’s just one example. But there were various aspects of the process we struggled with and what we were trying to do is identify which of the bits you’re struggling with because of autism and which are the bits you’re struggling with because actually everyone who is setting up their own business struggles with that anyway – and is there a generic form of support that the business could get from chambers of commerce and that sort of thing that we could work with to support them to support their own business better and is there something specific that we could offer either virtually or through some sort of central back office-type function. And that idea got so far and then of course it’s just how can we find some funding to be able to provide that.”

I asked how much it would cost to run that type of project and Mark responded that it would be set up as a type of ‘national resource’ and a ‘virtual world’ type project which people could access online that could run for about £100k per year.

I then ask Mark why he invited me to meet with him.

Mark: “The reason I wanted to meet was because when I read – and a lot of people write stuff about the NAS some of it’s complimentary some of it’s not – it’s just that I thought actually, you’ve got half the picture of the NAS”.

Mark then discusses the comment made on the original article where I said I would look into the numbers of autistic people employed by the NAS and adds “And I thought actually, come and talk to us. Come and talk to me and I will tell you everything about the NAS”.

Ask Autism – What Happened Next?

Note: The below part of the interview has been published verbatim with minimal editing.

Lydia: “The NAS has five strategic aims, one of which is that – this is your wording from the [NAS] site – ‘People with autism, their families and those who support them will be connected to one another to share experiences, learning and good practice’. Ask Autism seems like a good way to reach this aim as it features autistic people discussing their experiences on camera, so why has it not been more clearly targeted at your autistic members and their families?”

Mark: “Yeah, I think that your comments on that [from the original article] were absolutely – were right. If I just go back to the beginning of Ask Autism because it was a painful birth. The idea was that when we were developing and doing the work around the autism strategy, it was clearly identified in every area there’s a massive need for training GP’s, for Commissioners of Services, for Community Care Assessors for psychiatry, you know for a whole array of people out there.

And, we said there’s no way that we’re going to get all of these people to go to workshops and face-to-face training, so how can we actually develop resources which are accessible online for this group. Then we thought ‘ok, we could develop some online training packages’ and I said Ok, now let’s think about where is the value really added when we do deliver training and we recognised that actually the best autism training comes from autistic people who deliver that training.

So how can we incorporate autistic people in the development of Ask Autism and how can we create some employment opportunities along the way for them as well. And we had this idea of this autism resource centre, so not only would we have autistic people involved in the development – the writing, development and production of the training modules, how can we also create paid opportunities for people who might get asked to go and give talks.

So we had about 70 autistic people sign up to this and as you [know]…we got the funding from Trafigura to fund this…”

Editorial Note: During this part of the discussion I grimace when Mark mentions Trafigura and he responds “Yeah, yeah, I know” in acknowledgement at the fact the he is aware I am uncomfortable with this partnership [for reasons outlined in the original article here] before continuing:

Mark: “Now Trafigura Foundation had previously funded the helpline and they were keen to fund other activities and this Ask Autism piece, because they’re very keen, and I appreciate there’s a lot of controversy around the work and I’m not here to defend Trafigura.

But, the Trafigura Foundation, which is clearly – you know I’m not one of these people who pretends it’s completely…these two things [Trafigura the commercial organisation and Trafigura Foundation the charitable arm] are completely separate, of course they’re not – but it is a charitable foundation that funds all sorts of projects around the world for whatever reasons. But, they’re very keen to try and build capability and capacity.

And I was talking about this project to the person who runs the Trafigura Foundation who said ‘that sounds really interesting, it might be something we would be interested in funding’, particularly because the service involved autistic people, so they funded the development of this material but what they wanted to see was [that] the on-going costs of developing more modules would be sustainable.

So we said ‘look, the sustainability of this will come from us selling this to GPs and Commissioners…and so that was the model for it…the funding that they were raising was going to a few autistic people so there were a number of people who were involved in it and the people who project managed it were autistic adults.

We had a number of challenges, I mean it was a really big learning curve for us because to be honest it’s the first time an organisation – a non-autistic organisation had tried to do something like this. And I spoke to other charities and they said ‘well you’re brave aren’t you doing that’ and I said ‘well if we can’t try and do this…who else is going to do it?’ – and this was other autistic charities actually or autism charities.

But what we found was the…there were lots of challenges when the autistic people who were involved in the project came across some different people within the organisation or others, and so it was quite difficult and there were some real challenges along the way but we ended up producing something which I think is really good.”

Lydia: “I think the product is great”

Mark: “The product itself is really good. The market was not necessarily parents and families actually because it was actually for this group. The driving force was to say look how can we train these people so they better understand autism to better support the people who are coming to see them.

And the take-up in those areas is improving but it’s not been as great as we would have liked. But I think that your comments about making it more available to parents and families are really helpful because I think we can do that, and we can do that, you know we should do that at a much reduced price.

There is a cost in administering this but I think we could do it at a much reduced price. But it was never really the primary market for what we were producing.”

Lydia: “I suppose what I would say is, hearing about where Trafigura said to you ‘we want to ensure that it’s sustainable’, why would you let them…say that to you, why not just say…”

Mark interjects: “No – it’s just funders. A lot of donors that you go, a lot of funders that you go to want to see a plan for it being sustainable when their funding goes. The reason for that…and it’s not just Trafigura – and don’t – I wouldn’t want them to be portrayed as saying ‘they laid the law down to us and we had to comply with it’, it’s most funders do that and the reason they do it is because what they’re concerned about is if they take their funding away and it all suddenly collapses and stops they feel that it hasn’t, they’ve not really made a long-term impact.

So the sustainability question, I mean you talk to all major trust funds, donors whoever they are and they will always say sustainability is actually really important to them. And we felt that ‘why shouldn’t GP’s pay for this”.

Lydia interjects: “Yeah, I think – what I was saying in the article is that – absolutely, the professional market is a valid one and I thought that was a great idea. Sell it to them – brilliant, that’s fine. But it’s the members and the…”

Mark interjects: “I think your point…I entirely agree and I think what you’re reflection has done is it’s forced us [to consider the market for autistic people and their families] – because we never really thought about that as a market because we thought our members probably would know all this stuff and wouldn’t really need to do it.

We were talking about developing training for people who didn’t know anything about autism and didn’t have any experience of autism. But what’s…since your article has made me think that actually the more people we talk to are saying ‘actually we would be really interested in this’, so it’s not that we didn’t want to provide something to them and it’s not that we wanted to price them out of it or charge them money for it. It’s just we never really saw them as being an audience.

And interestingly, there’s a parent who’s battling at the moment, her daughter is in a really awful provision somewhere…and we’re trying to campaign to get her out and we said ‘look is there anything we can do’, and one of the things she said was ‘It would be really helpful to have some training on autism’ and so we said ‘look, here are the Ask Autism [modules], just have access to these Ask Autism modules’.

So I think that the problem with that was that it wasn’t the market that we thought, but in fact that’s emerged now and so what we want to do is look at how we can make that much more affordable to people and it doesn’t have to be very much to be honest.”

Lydia: “As an autistic adult myself, when I reviewed this tool I found it was really useful in helping me to understand why I’m sensitive to certain things and also that there are other people out there who feel the same way. Because sensory sensitivities are so distinctive, but equally they can express themselves in different ways and that’s what I really connected to that – so seeing those people talking about their sensory experience, though they’re different to mine, because it’s such a unique experience if you’re not autistic you just can’t really understand it. So that’s why seeing that is really, really, really helpful.”

Mark: “Yeah, and I think your article opened our eyes to it because we never thought that they…because we thought it would be like saying to people ‘well you already know this’, but actually it’s highlighted the fact that there is a completely different market and of course with that group we’re not going to charge them the cost that we put there [on the price list online], because we think why shouldn’t GPs fund this, why shouldn’t Psychiatrists fund that, so…so the way we take that forward is to look at how we make that more accessible to people like yourself.”

Lydia: “My view is really, is that the price currently is £100-120 for access to all the modules which is far beyond the reach I would imagine of many of your…”

Mark interjects: “And we wouldn’t charge that to…that price is based on actually what the market price is for those different professionals. The training they normally access from other sources.”

Lydia: “But it was available on your website though for people to purchase – you have a member discount?”

Mark: “Yeah, I mean…”

Lydia interjects: “So you were making it available to your members [at that price]”

Mark: “Sorry, I’m not trying to be defensive about it at all. It’s just that we didn’t…we just didn’t think – and this is criticism of us – we just didn’t think there would be that sort of market. We just didn’t think there would be that market for it.”

Lydia: “I suppose I just want to be clear though that it wasn’t that it was just offered to the GPs because it was offered to your members and there was a discount.”

Mark: “Yeah, I mean I think – I agree with you. You know I not, I’m really not trying to defend our position here because I think that we’ve got to, we’ve got to change the pricing of that.”

Lydia: “I suppose my view is why wouldn’t you just offer it as a free tool for your members? Because they’ve already paid for membership so this could be a good tool…I suppose my experience was that when I approached the NAS a member of the press [for the original article] and I said ‘please can I [have access]…this looks interesting’.

They said ‘here we go, we’ll send you, we’ll sign you up to have a look’ and instantly I got one email, log-in codes, within a minute I was into the system. It would have taken whoever sent that code about 30 seconds to send that and I know that your employees have access to it as well internally I believe. So if it’s as easy as that, why can’t you just do it for your members?.”

Mark: “Oh no, no, no, sorry I’m really not being defensive about it – I think this is what we’re looking at now, is how we can make it more accessible.”

Lydia: “But not reduced, just free – just no barrier at all. Especially if you’ve got unemployed people or whatever.”

Mark: “Yeah, I think, I think that what we…it could be free. I…I…the only reason I’m not being absolutely specific with you is because we’re just looking at it the moment as to whether or not we make it free, whether or not we make a small charge for it.

But, it really will be far more accessible to people as a result of what you said. And I’m not really trying to be defensive at all…”

Lydia interjects: “Yeah, I..I…know that’s what we’re here to discuss isn’t it? And I really appreciate your honesty.”

Mark: “Yeah, and I think that what we want to do is, the reason we were – the reason I suppose we were charging for it in the first place is that it was never going to make a fortune but if there are other modules that we wanted to develop – particularly around employment actually – and we haven’t got the funding to do it, so we thought ‘actually, if we could make some money from this, we can re-invest it and actually make some other modules’.

But the… for me there have been a number of challenges. One is the point that you’ve rightly made about it’s not been accessible to certain groups who haven’t got any money and of course we want to make it accessible to them. But the other thing is how we’ve, how we’ve sort of engaged with autistic people in the process of developing it and what lessons can we learn from that because for a lot of people who’ve been involved in the development process it wasn’t a happy process…”

Behind the Scenes of Ask Autism: “It was an unhappy experience for a lot of people”

Lydia: “Yes, I’ve got some questions on that”

Mark: “I know, I know, and it’s probably nothing I haven’t heard. And that was a great disappointment for me, was that we should have been able to…we should have been able to engage far better with autistic people in that process and hopefully we can…we constantly try and turn things around but that was a…for me because it was one of my things that I really wanted to happen, I just really had this image – lets have something which is entirely developed by autistic people, it creates opportunity for autistic people and it’s a really good thing…and it was an unhappy experience for a lot of people…”

Lydia: “Why do you think it was an unhappy experience?”

Mark: “I think the lack of – and I’m being quite candid with you – I think there are a number of people who work in the organisation [the NAS], who are good people, you know they’re well intentioned, but they don’t have sufficient experience of working with autistic people. And I think actually it’s probably not a lot more complicated than that.

And we need to do more to educate our own people about how better to engage with autistic people, and that comes down to simple things like the language that you were describing.” [The discussion around language will be covered in Part Four]

Mark then discusses an autistic NAS Councillor who he says has had “bad experiences engaging with the marketing and membership team” before continuing:

Mark: “I think we’ve got to get much better at communicating with, engaging with autistic people. And I know that sounds crackers – it’s the National Autistic Society, but I’m just being honest”

Lydia: “One of the issues that came up is that you didn’t pay the contributors to the Ask Autism programme anything. You did pay some of the authors [developers] of the material, but the actual contributors weren’t paid?”

Mark: “Right, I didn’t know that”

Lydia: “Ok”

Mark: “I can…I thought we did but I can check”

Lydia: “Ok. So, when I say contributors I mean people who actually appeared on the screen and contributed to some of the quotes and that sort of thing, as opposed to the actual authors of the material who received some payment”

Mark: “Right…I know certainly, I mean I know for a fact that we did pay the people who authored it because that was one of the reasons we wanted to do it, but I didn’t know that we didn’t pay the contributors – the talking heads.”

Lydia: “So you can see where that’s a bit of an issue because everybody else seems to be getting paid and…”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah, no, no I can understand that.”

Lydia: “So, if you go away and look into this and find that this is what’s happened then what would your response to that be?”

Mark: “My response to that would be next time we do it we do pay, simple. And I think I…one of the challenges for us is Ask Autism as an enterprise if you like, the generating income to do that, but the whole point about it was to try and do that and even if it’s like an hourly rate for people doing that then to be honest with you I don’t think it would be very much in the overall scheme of things, it’s probably not going to be a lot of money but I…I honestly didn’t know that…but I will find out about…I will follow that up. I mean I don’t doubt for a minute that somebody’s told you that”

Lydia: “Well I did see an ‘Open Letter’ that was sent to…it had your name on it, I can’t say that you’ve seen it obviously, but it had your name on it and your management team [and it was signed] by nearly 20 of the contributors to the programme to address this disparity. And it says:

‘We are keen to work with the NAS and Ask Autism but are unhappy with the way the NAS is currently operating Ask Autism. Paying autistic people for our work and recognising our skills needs to be a foundational principle of Ask Autism and other NAS offshoots. It is especially difficult to understand why this is not happening in instances where the work is going towards a commercial offering as is the case in the training module. We hope you will see your way to ensuring that the NAS and its offshoots always appropriately remunerate the work of autistic people’.

Lydia: “That had your name on it but obviously I can’t say whether or not you’ve seen it?”

Mark: “No and I think…let me just…again, I’m not…I’m really not…I’m trying to be quite open with you. I think where we’re developing…I mean because there has been a big discussion about paying people who contribute to journals and magazines and things and it’s just we’re working through that at the moment actually about trying to come up with…we just…we either have to make money to be able to pay people to be able to contribute.”

[Mark then points to the copy of ‘The Autism Issue’ of The New Idealist provided at the start of the interview]

Mark: “I guess it’s the same with yours, I don’t know if you pay everybody who writes an article in here?”.

[Editoral Note: It was then confirmed that contributors to The New Idealist were unpaid whilst the Assistant Editor and Designer were paid. This is due to The New Idealist being a non-commercial magazine distributed in print and online free of charge in contrast to NAS member magazine ‘Your Autism’ which is sent to nearly 20,000 members who each pay annual subscriptions and Ask Autism which is a commercial product only available to those who pay £100-120 for access to all the modules]

The discussion moves on…

Lydia: The other issue is that you give your employees’ access to Ask Autism which is a good idea, but you haven’t given any of the 70 contributors’ access to it?”

Mark Exclaims: “I didn’t know that!”

Lydia: “So the very people who actually produced the programme are expected to pay the £100-£120 to view their own contribution to the programme!”

Mark laughs/cringes: “Yeah, yeah, OK, I didn’t…that’s clearly bonkers”

Lydia: “So they’ve worked for free and now they have to pay to view it so how has this scenario happened?”

Mark: “God knows. I…I…you know I…that is clearly bonkers… that is wrong…I’ll follow that up because that does seem to be absolutely nuts.”

Lydia: “OK, so my final point really on this whole thing would be…”

Mark laughs and interjects: “Give me another one….”

Lydia: “…actually, it was just related to that – will you commit to sending those people an access code so they can at least view their own work?”

Mark: “Yeah, yeah…that’s alright…I mean I’m not…I don’t want…I’m happy for you to write and portray our conversation however you like…”

Lydia: “Just accurately”

Mark nods enthusiastically: “Yeah, yeah but you know, but I’m just saying that’s clearly…I mean even if somebody has made a decision ‘actually no I’m not going to let them [the autistic contributors] have access to it’, that just doesn’t seem right to me so I’ll make sure that that’s put right.

Lydia: “Ok.”


What Happened Next?

During the Interview: When asked if he will commit to sending the autistic contributors to the Ask Autism programme an access code – Mark says he will.

After the Interview: Mark did not deliver on this commitment.

Instead the NAS subsequently issued the following statement: “Everyone who developed the modules has been offered free access to Ask Autism.” (bold emphasis added).

This statement highlights that in contrast to Mark’s commitment in the interview – access continues to be restricted to the small number of people who actually developed the training materials – a policy which was already in place at the time I met Mark.

As such the rest of the autistic contributors continue to be barred from accessing the online training programme they helped to create.

During the Interview: Mark states several times that he is committed to ‘significantly reducing’ the price of the Ask Autism programme so that those most in need of the training tool – autistic people and their families – are not priced out of accessing it.

After the Interview: The following enquiry was sent “Can Mark confirm the new pricing policy for Ask Autism for members? There was talk of it being free or at a heavily discounted rate during our discussion.”

Five weeks later the NAS provided the following statement:

“Prices for the Ask Autism service can be downloaded from our website here:

Members are able to claim a 20% discount for individual modules. There are on-going discussions about how the modules could be further discounted for members and others where price is a significant barrier to accessing them.”

The 20% member discount was already in place at the time of the interview and remains unchanged. At time of writing (six weeks after the interview) – the pricing policy remains unchanged.

This article will be updated if and when the NAS change their pricing policy – until then it could be considered that Mark has not delivered on his commitment to reduce the pricing of Ask Autism.

During the Interview: Mark states he wasn’t aware that some contributors had not been paid.

After the Interview: The following enquiry was sent “Can Mark confirm how many of the 70 contributors to the Ask Autism training modules have been paid.”

The NAS subsequently confirm the following “28 of the 74 contributors to the Ask Autism training modules were paid. Others contributed via Survey Monkey and so were not paid.”

The above NAS statement seeming to confirm that only those who contributed to Ask Autism via Survey Monkey have not been paid does not seem to be accurate as Ask Autism contributor David Mery explains below.

David Mery, Ask Autism Contributor

David Mery, Ask Autism Contributor

Ask Autism Contributor Case Study

“In August last year [2014] I was contracted as a ‘consultant’ to be filmed for an Ask Autism training module. As this module has still not yet been published, I will not mention its topic. It is an area where much training is required so I am very keen for this module to be completed and for it to be of a good standard. When I was initially contacted to be asked if I was interested in participating in this module, I was told that the Ask Autism budget was stretched and that the NAS could only pay expenses. I expressed my unhappiness about this, but this was not open for negotiation although it was suggested there may be some money for reviewing the module.

The impression I got was that the Ask Autism staff was not given a budget to pay contributors and did not have the power to get one. The contract I was sent offered only expenses. I did reluctantly accept it as I very much want training on this topic to be widely disseminated, but it was a difficult decision. An hour was scheduled on August 12th to do the filming. Two NAS staff and two videographers were present, probably paid.

After an initial editorial interest in the topic of the module, all the emails I received were about administrative issues. The most time spent was on negotiating usage permissions for the video for which I was asked to give away many rights that had little to do with Ask Autism and its promotion. As I was volunteering my time and expertise, I was not willing for the NAS to make more money outside of the sales of this Ask Autism module without any sharing. I wished the same amount of energy spent by NAS arguing this release form had been spent discussing the editorial content.

When in September I received a reminder to send in my travel expenses – which I had said I would waive as I had travelled to the filming by bus and on the way back by foot – I asked if this was an invitation to re-open the discussion about a fair payment for my time, and was told ‘In regards to payment for your time, unfortunately we are unable to do this as discussed before the interview and noted in your contract.’

I was not given access to any of the existing Ask Autism modules, which would have been useful to ensure consistency of style across the modules; I have been promised access to the module I contributed to when it is published.

In March I was eventually invited to a closed testing of the module and I discovered I was the only interviewee in this module. There were some serious editorial issues on which I provided feedback and I believe these are being worked on before the module is finalised, but communication has been limited. With some other autistics, I was promised in January, independently of my discussions with the Ask Autism team, that all the 70+ contributors to Ask Autism would be given access to all the modules; this has not yet happened and the only module I’ve seen so far was the one I was given five days to review.

I regularly volunteer for several other charitable projects and am very happy to do it for the good of the community. However when income is generated as part of the activity it should be shared fairly. For example, one of the charities I volunteer for also occasionally has paid events; for these the charity pays ‘volunteers’ a very reasonable one-off fee. As the Ask Autism training modules are a commercial offering of the NAS, even for its members, I would have expected some payment.

The NAS has in its vision a world where an autistic ‘lives with dignity and as independently as possible’, along with a mission to ‘involve, inform and empower people living with autism’. For the NAS not to pay fairly all its autistic contributors to reflect their expertise and the work they have done, to help them make a living and have an independent life is hypocritical as it goes against the NAS mission and vision.”



Part Two will explore the executive salary structure within the NAS and look at what steps the National Autistic Society have taken to implement the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) recommendations on Executive Pay in the charity sector.

The various topics covered in this interview series will be featured across six parts. Please click here for links to the other parts of this interview.

About the Author

Lydia Andal is an autistic campaign journalist and author who draws attention to the issues affecting under-represented parts of society.

Lydia’s new bookAm I Autistic? A Guide to Autism & Asperger’s Self-Diagnosis for Adults (Digital Edition)’ is available to order now at all major digital bookstores with the print edition scheduled for Autumn 2015.

You can read what other people say about the book and watch the 60 second explainer video here.

Lydia grew up in Essex before graduating with a 2:1 Degree in Business & Entrepreneurship and relocating to Manchester where she worked in the corporate sector before setting up her first business age 23.

As well as founding and editing The New Idealist magazine (now on hiatus), Lydia also created Short Story Sunday – a site for those who enjoy original short stories.

Lydia is an Ambassador for Potential Plus UK gifted children’s society which works to highlight that giftedness only represents potential – without special support many gifted children never reach their full potential in society.


You can read the opening section of ‘Am I Autistic? A Guide to Autism & Asperger’s Self-Diagnosis for Adults’ at the Amazon Kindle Store (UK).


Sign up here to register for an update on when the print edition is launched as well as occasional updates on future editions and notification when relevant autism-related news items or features are added to the site.


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