Good Morning. Since writing this blog nine days ago, there has been an explosion in policy brutality in the USA, an expression of both systemic, structural and particular, individual racism. The Black Lives Matter movement is at the forefront of opposing this. In an effort to contribute helpfully to this movement my first “proper” blog post tomorrow will consider what white, UK-based academics – like myself – can do to combat racism in our own country and around the world.
The last year has seen this blog sadly negelected, but that’s about to change…
I’ve only managed two posts myself since May 2019, and augmented that with some lovely guest blogs. Still, I miss blogging. Perhaps I miss it more than ever right now, because I don’t have all the usual outlets for my semi-professional opinions – namely, ranting in the kitchen with a colleague while the kettle boils.
In addition, I’ve spent the last year getting to grips with a new role as Director of the Salvesen Mindroom Research Centre (SMRC). This has included getting the SMRC website set-up with our communication & outreach manager, Ali Irving, and our Centre Administrator, Sue Davidson. This new website has led to conversations recently about whether the DART site should continue to exist – and if so, in what form. I’m quite interested in making this site a place for sharing the outputs of research – but perhaps not the research process itself. If so, we’d move towards keeping this blog, and also our library of resources, but new projects would start to be hosted on the SMRC site.
So far, so boring – but what all this means, is that I want to have a go at reviving this site, and especially testing my own capacity to maintain the blog. Can I really keep it going? Is it worth preserving? Do people want to read it???
Hence… JUNE BLOGS
What’s June Blogs?
I’ve seen various folk make pledges for daily blogging – Blogtober (in October), Novemblog (in November). It seems like a cool idea. A commitment to invest in a blog, perhaps to build a new following, or develop a writing habit. I happen to have time in June (I think) so June Blogs it is.
What are the rules?
My aim is to post a blog every working day during June. I am not going to be blogging on the weekends! That’s it.
I’ve budgeted about an hour for each blog – so the posts will be short, and not especially elaborate in terms of links, illustrations etc. They will doubtless be riddled with typos and grammatical errors and I’m trusting you all to forgive me for those.
I am prepping 3 or 4 blogs during May, to give me a wee safety net – including this one, which I’m writing on 21st May. This will also be useful if I find I do need more time to get into a really meaty topic.
What will you blog about?
This is the exciting bit – for me anyway, maybe for you too. Over the last 2 or 3 years the number of ideas i’ve had for blogs has far exceeded my capacity to write them. So I have a huge backlog (backblog? bloglog?) of ideas just waiting to be tackled. I reckon a lot will be about neurodiversity – about the importance of the term “neurodivergent” specifically; about the interplay of individual and categorical differences between people when it comes to thinking about neurodiversity and neurodivergence.
More specific to autism, I’d like to write about whether autism is a category or a dimensional difference – are autistic people simply at one end of trait distribution, or is there a clear space between autistic people and neurotypical people? I want to write about the obsession in psychology with analysing group mean differences and what that means for how we (by which I mean, myself and my neurotypical colleagues) find ourselves talking about autism at work.
I might also write some things about academic practice. I’ve been wanting to write a blog for a while about how to supervise an MSc student as this is something early career researchers often start doing with little or no training. I thought a blog about how to finish a project might be handy too – what steps need to be completed to close a project down before the student or researcher moves on? This past year, I’ve been an editor at Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice and I’d like to blog about that – once I’ve checked with the team! And I’m going to wrap up my Year Of No as well, by describing criteria for saying yes in the future.
Sounds like quite a few ideas… but what if you run out or don’t stick to your plans?
Well, if I don’t do a blog every day, so be it. I want to stick to the commitment but ultimately if my family need me or a project needs my attention then I will skip a blog. These are my rules, and I reserve the right to break them!
The other thing I might do with my blogging time, if my brain isn’t in full ranting mode (rare, but possible, I suppose) is update part of this site that have been neglected. There are old resources hidden away that I’d like to promote and share – they just need a bit of tidying and updating. So a good use of time would be to bring those back to light and make sure people know they’re here, and can use them. One example is all the materials from our Family in Residence project. Another is a student project that a team of undergraduates did a couple of years back, compiling information about the range of techniques that are available to support autistic people’s communication.
So, please do follow along. I’ll promote all the blogs on twitter and I hope some of them will be useful, or trigger an interesting conversation. I look forward to reading your feedback!