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Emma Robdale

I am Emma Robdale and I have recently finished an MA in Creative Writing at Brighton University. My posts will feature short stories and poetry that incorporate elements of my own experiences with learning difficulties. This blog will also feature articles on how to develop and expand upon Disability Culture, with particular focus on Spectrum qualities in women. Women on the Spectrum are currently being underrepresented within media covering Autism and Asperger's and it is my hope that this can be remedied.

Posts by Emma Robdale

portrait of artist with a large black bag

‘Neither Use Nor Ornament’: Could autism-led arts projects pioneer more inclusive and comprehensive perspectives?

Emma Robdale reflects on Neither Use Nor Ornament (NUNO) as a model for Autistic Leadership and of best practise to help entwine diverse backgrounds and neurologies. D4D: Electric Bodies by Allan Sutherland · Rec0425 - 173831 Originally culminating in an exhibition of 'object art' at OVADA Gallery, Oxfordshire, in the spring of ...

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‘The Duck’: A one-woman play on keeping afloat as an autistic woman

Rhi Lloyd-Williams’ one woman play, The Duck, aired on 7th of March at the Theatre Deli, Sheffield. It details the trials and tribulations, thrills and sensitivities of experiencing life as an autistic woman. The play, in part autobiographical, depicts how Rhi Lloyd-Williams identifies as autistic; highlighting social-political challenges, injustices and ...

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Awkwoods: Daniel Oliver’s Dyspraxic Adventures in Participatory Performance

Awkwoods: Dyspraxic Adventures in Participatory Performance is compiled by Daniel Oliver, performance lecturer at Mary Queen University, London, detailing the work of neurodivergent artists. Review by Emma Robdale. ‘Awkwoods’ carves out a place for dyspraxics within performance; we’re here… and we’re awkward! Awkward… intrinsically one of the most profound, universal, and ...

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Do you feel, ‘The Electricity of Every Living Thing’? Memoir of autistic author, adventurer Katherine May

Katherine May wrote her memoir, ‘The Electricity of Every Living Thing’ to creatively document her journey through identifying with Asperger’s Syndrome, while balancing the tasks and chores of everyday life. Seeking to find harmony, despite the stigma and pressures society places on a woman and mother, she embarks on tough ...

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There’s an ‘Emergency Alphabet!’… but ‘U’ have been left out!? Neurodivergent artist speaks up!

Neurodivergent artist Jon Adams reveals what compelled him to create the Emergency Alphabet. On first impression it seems simple and effective, the ‘‘U’ has been left out’. But left out of what? And why? The ND experience doesn’t need to be inherently isolating, but has been for many… Adams is ...

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Stories from within BURSTING OUT! Bringing NDACA to life with new insights…

In October, Disability Arts Online brought together eight of its regular writers, from a range of different backgrounds, to explore the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive (NDACA) wing at Buckinghamshire New University, High Wycome. Observations by Emma Robdale. “Here, the worlds of politics and arts collide,” said NDACA Archivist, Alex ...

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Let no one stand alone: Autism Pride, advocating self-acceptance first

1st September 2019 saw the University of Kent hold its first-ever Autism Pride festival; run by autistic speakers, researchers and artists…. It truly is the embodiment of the #ActuallyAutistic philosophy. Reflecting on the event, neurodivergent writer Emma Robdale, considers what does it mean to have Autism Pride? And, how is ...

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‘Normal Sucks!’ And You Need to Know Why! Dyslexic Writer Jonathan Mooney Speaks Out

‘Normal Sucks!’… So, why do we put up with it? Jonathan Mooney questions the true nature of normal…. why so many people aspire to it? And, is it even possible? A political, but also extremely personal story of how one man questioned, then revolted against a system which told him ...

Expanding Diversity: New insights into Oska Bright Film Festival

Oska Bright Film Festival (OB), for the 9th time running, is back! Produced by Carousel, the learning-disability-led arts company, the festival screens shorts by filmmakers with learning differences, autism, asperger’s and people who are Neurodivergent (ND). Oska Bright’s reputation has flared since 2004, this year receiving over a 1,000 entries! ...

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Kent’s Autism Art’s Festival Exhibits Wild Talent: Robert White, Derek Paravicini, Kate Fox and many more performers!

This April the University of Kent is hosting its second Autism Arts Festival. The university has collaborated to create an entirely Autistic and Neurodivergent friendly space; not a place for 'Autism' to be observed, or for it to fascinate the neurotypical (NT) population, but a place for ND individuals to ...

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‘All In a Row’ is out of line: disability representation done wrong

‘All in a Row’ is a play by Alex Oates, a neuro-typical individual who has experience working with autistic children and their families. It is currently being aired at Southwark Playhouse in London: 14th February- 9th of March. Thousands are demanding it be stopped; it’s now time to ask; what ...

Beneath the Peal: BBC Ideas commissions ND Artist Eleana Re

The short film 'The Real Me' centres on Neurodivergent Artist Eleana Re. Pairing vivid imagery with diary-like dialogue it depicts how she relates to her diagnosis. Commissioned by BBC Ideas, with the help of the arts collective Carousel, it will be released this year to the BBC Ideas Platform. It's ...

The word 'flow' sketched as if made from shells and pieces of wood

New Perspectives on Neurodiversity from Flow Observatorium

Should Neurodivergence be categorised as disability? Jon Adams, founder of Flow Observatorium, identifies as a ND (Neurodivergent) Artist. Believing that Neurodivergent individuals should have more self-autonomy on how they choose to identify, he started Flow Observatorium, an equality and diversity organisation for ND individuals which is also run by ND ...

“You’re Not Trans… You’re Autistic!”

Aimee Challenor is 20 years. She is a transgender individual and also autistic. She and others from Trans communities feel they have had their Transgender identity undermined by medical professionals because of their autism. This has led to the delaying of gender reassignment procedures. How does it feel to ‘come out’ as Trans, only to have to hide autism? Challenor speaks out ...

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Frosted Glass: Demystifying Asperger’s through Spoken Word

The independent film ‘Frosted Glass’ has shown at multiple film festivals and won silver at the International Independent Film Festival in 2017. Detailing the life of a poet with Asperger’s, the story is semi-autobiographical having been written by Anthony Fairweather, a writer and spoken word performer who has Asperger’s. Believing ...

Puppet Death and my end thoughts to performing with Stealth Aspies…. 11/08/18

Now… I don’t know whether I enjoyed it or not… but the Famous Puppet Death Scenes show needs a mention. It was one hour thirty of different famous puppet death scenes from various performances over the last 200 years! (all around three minutes long)  – including a children’s game show where ...

Headshot of the performer Jess Thom

Last Day at the Fringe!!! – 11/08/18

I decided to stay one more day… because I had been told that Jess Thoms was going to be in the audience (founder of Tourette’s Hero… whom I have previously written an article; BBC Two’s Documentary ‘Me, My Mouth and I’: Biscuits! Fuck a Goat! Hedgehog! However… I woke up in the ...

Menstruation and Scientology! Another Day at the Fringe! – 09/08/18

As I have been theatrical all my life…I had quite a few friends who are also theatrical, and who were also performing. When I lived in Sheffield I used to be in a movement– Period Positive (which was all about counter-acting stigmas around menstruation for girls and women). Chella Quint, whom ...

HUNG OVER…. BUT IT’S SHOW TIME!!! 09/08/18

Hung over!!! – But woke up early to write this diary/blog!!! – Mind a bit ‘glunky’ – planning to watch a variety of things. But so far only booked for one; a feminist production called, ‘Norris and ParkerK Burn the Witch’ – Debauched Late-night sketch comedy for lovers of the ...

Even More Performances!!!/I’M STILL STANDING!(and performing!) 08/08/18

Time to see a show… before our show!!! –…. Ministers of Grace: The Unauthorised Shakespearean Parody of Ghostbusters. I was curious… but not knowing a huge amount about Shakespeare… and only having watched around two episodes of Ghostbusters I was worried I wouldn’t understand the performance. However, it was quite ...

Edinburgh Fringe – So, so, so many performances!!! (Death by Drama!) – 07/08/16

I’ve seen so many performances now… that I’m just going to give a summary of the best… and, the worst!!!! (The good, the bad, and the ugly!) The 'leafleters' were trying more and more bizarre things to get peoples attention... including pretending to be dead... Alain (fellow Stealth Aspie!) invited me ...

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THE BAD MORNING – 06/08/18

… I was feeling a bit more comfortable now; I’d sorted my stuff. I’d recovered from my train journey. I knew the area…. Or so I thought. A fire alarm went off in my apartment. It was about an hour before our performance. I know usual procedure is to get out… ...

Later in the day…. WHAT TO SEE, WHAT TO SEE!!!! (and sleep) 05/08/18

I thought it was ok… but I’ve just fallen asleep in a park. I was just taking a little explore around Edinburgh (which is still as beautiful as I remember… even if it is now splattered with thousands of show posters), taking a look at the craft markets when BOOM. ...

Flyer for the performance group Stealth Aspies

IT’S SHOW TIME BABY!!! 05/08/18

I WAKE UP. Sarah is practising her lines in the kitchen. I apply make-up precisely hoping that it’ll make me feel confident… it does. I look fantastic. I complete my look with my iconic orange hat (that I bought from Thailand). I have a choice of two T-shirts I can ...

Aspie Manor! – 04/08/18

Paul Wady kindly came to pick me up from the station at 9.30 pm… 5 and a half hours after I was supposed to arrive in Edinburgh! (… turning a 6-and-a-half-hour journey into 11-and-a-half hours!!!) I’m traumatised… I was stuck a twenty-minute walk from a station… for three hours… without air ...

Emma Robdale self-portrait

The Extra Long Train – 04/08/18

I NEED TO PACK. Today I am leaving. TODAY. It takes six and a half hours to get to Edinburgh. First things first… print off the material for the show you finished last night! – can’t perform without a script!... well I could, but it wouldn’t be ideal - I worry ...

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The Day Before the Train (procrastination day!) – 03/08/18

Shit. I’m going tomorrow, and I haven’t even edited the Laura monologue I’m reading (which I was supposed to do to make it more suitable for reading aloud!). I haven’t looked at any of the material since rehearsal. I’d gone into a state of denial; I wasn’t nervous about the show, ...

Rehearsal/OH NO!!! – It’s really happening!!! – 28/07/18

I should have been excited to meet everyone properly, but I had taken on too many articles and writing projects that week. Until the actual day of the rehearsal (today!)… I’d just being trying to empty my itinerary, like Mary Poppins’ itinerary bag. (She has a bag that can fit ...

Two disabled women chat and laugh from within two very large dustbins,

BBC Two’s Documentary ‘Me, My Mouth and I’: Biscuits! Fuck a Goat! Hedgehog!

Last Saturday 21st July, Jess Thom starred in the BBC Two documentary 'Me, My Mouth and I' - a film, co-produced by Touretteshero and Sunshine, shown as part of BBC TWO’s Performance Live strand (a partnership between BBC Arts, Arts Council England and Battersea Arts Centre). “Make Sure you pay ...

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Preparing Materials/ I NEED STUFF TO PERFORM! – 20/07/18

Let’s get one thing clear. I have LOTS of writing. I have material on how insects mate, I have material on feminism, I have quirky stories about falling in love with starfish, I have screenplays, poetry, speeches on Free the Nipple…. But… I had pretty much nothing that would be ...

Emma Allen painting someone's head

Adam ‘Grey Matters’: Depression and Creative Expression

Emma Allen is an artist who specialises in body-art and stop frame animation. ‘Adam’, her latest film, brings together both of these passions. The animation is solely created from body art applied onto the unusual canvas of a man's shaven face and head. Interview by Emma Robdale. Emma Allen, who ...

Flyer for the performance group Stealth Aspies

Joining the Stealth Aspies – 28/06/17

Neurodivergence, Acting and Activism! For a week this blog will detail my experiences joining The Stealth Aspies (All Asperger's Theater group) and then proceed to detail my adventures performing at  Edinburgh Fringe... I opened FB Messenger and found a message from Sarah Saeed. I’d befriended her at a show she was in: Stealth Aspies, ...

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Action! Celebrating Neurodivergent Filmmakers. Cut!

On the 17th June Emma Robdale travelled to Crouch End’s Art House, London to see DYSPLA’s exhibition of Dyslexic and Neurodivergent filmmakers. Making her way down a quiet street she arrived at a cosy independent cinema and gallery. She discovered that the venue was owned by a dyslexic individual supporting ...

Stealth Aspies:

Stealth Aspies: Performing Autism

The Stealth Aspies are a theatre group of autistic individuals. They performed their spoken word show at Werks Central as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival between 23-27 May. Review by Emma Robdale. The troupe is comprised of Alain English, Sarah Saeed, Paul Wady and also Janine Booth, who is the ...

Grace Eyre Street: Noisy Neighbours

Grace Eyre Street: passionate about performance

Grace Eyre Street aired twice at The Purple Playhouse Theatre on 23 and 30 May as part of Brighton Fringe Festival. The charity specialises in helping adults with learning difficulties. All six actors are supported by the charity and live within Grace Eyre Towers. The piece was directed by Mark ...

Two Surnames comedy show, Fix My BRain

Two Surnames: Fix My Brain – comic relief for chronic depression

Fix my Brain is a two-hander comedy routine by the Two Surnames, exploring not only the trials of living with depression, but also the trials of someone living with someone living with depression. It played at the Warren as part of Brighton Fringe 12-22 May. Read on to discover how the duo managed ...

Leigh Johnstone

Rum in the Gravy Boat: the impact of an alcoholic parent

Rum in the Gravy Boat showed at the The Warren venue as part of Brighton Fringe Festival 11-13 May. It was produced by Fluid Motion Theatre Company, a group specializing in mental health. This two-person play was based upon the actor’s own memories of growing up with an alcoholic mother. ...

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Art by Johnny Carroll-Pell: exploring inclusive curation

Coinciding with Autism Awareness Week last month, 'Art by Johnny’ was a fabulously vibrant exhibition held at Phoenix Studios in Brighton, comprised solely of Johnny Carroll-Pell’s paintings. Johnny is a 20-year-old autistic artist who has been a member of the Rocket Artists studio for two years. In this time, he ...

Undercover Autistics

Having a diagnosis of Autism/Asperger’s can be an issue of identity and disclosure. From being presumed to have no sense of humour, no empathy and a limited understanding of social skills, to conversations where 'neurotypicals' list all suspected autistic relatives….  Maybe it's best not to disclose? Recently, while staying at a ...

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Eclectic Dyslexics: Could Neurodiversity be Key to Artistic Success?

Dyslexia is often viewed in terms of difficulty, but have potential advantages been overlooked? DYSPLA, an organisation dedicated to ‘producing the work of dyslexic story-makers’ seeks the 'Dyslexic Aesthetic'. On the 15th March 2018 DYSPLA hosted a talk at the Crypt Gallery, London. Being a dyslexic writer herself, Emma Robdale was keen to find out more and sought out Lennie Varvarides, founder of DYSPLA, and proud ...

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Can Autism Awareness be Counter-Productive?

Recently I attended a small talk on Autism Awareness. I took a seat around a large square table. While waiting for the speaker to arrive I chatted with a group of women; some told me that they had a daughter, son or brother on the spectrum and had come for advice. ...

Emma Robdale