Webinar Vera Helleman - A review5 mins
Last week, 17 June 2020, Vera Helleman gave a webinar entitled “The Power of Autism”, about what she called “the three pillars of autism”. Together with about 650 other people I watched this webinar. Today I will write down my thoughts about it on paper.
The webinar itself can be seen on the website of Vera Helleman herself until 24 June 2020.
Let me start by saying that Vera and I are very different people. We look at the world in a very different way, yet there are many similarities in our view of autism. The webinar started very well on time, after all, a date is a date. Without much ado she started her lecture in which she explains her points. I noticed that the chat went well (it was already available before the lecture started) and a lot of people were present. At some moments audio and video were not synchronous, the video seemed to stand still or the audio dropped out. From the chat I saw that this problem occurred to more people. I myself didn’t find this very disturbing (I watch a lot of live broadcasts on the internet and it happens more often), but some people were annoyed.
The three pillars of autism
In her webinar Vera puts forward the idea for a new foundation for autism. She distinguishes between three pillars;
- Hyper sensitivity
- The lack of an I frame of reference
- Natural law thinking
These three pillars also ensure that we should not view autism as a disease or condition. As readers of me know, I myself have the same opinion, so it was very nice to hear that Vera has the same opinion in this. Autism has been described a lot in the past by neurotypical people from outside and this is a problem according to Vera, something I also see the problems of.
In the webinar Vera goes through the pillars 1 by 1. I won’t discuss them all here, so I encourage you to look back at the webinar through her website.
In the webinar Vera talks about the human being as a being that consists not only of thoughts but also of feelings. She emphasizes the fact that she herself is a feelings human being and that she is very much in touch with her feelings. This being in contact with your feelings is one of the most important things to do for an autistic person. By not rigidly sticking to the rules in your head, but letting your feelings speak, you can better come to yourself and become happy.
It is this point where I deviate from Vera. Not that I don’t disagree with her, I see it as a good thing to approach it this way when you are an emotional person just like Vera. But I don’t see myself that way. If I had to describe myself, I would rather call myself a rational person. I did learn to deal with my emotions and feelings, but primarily I am someone who thinks more about things. For me it can be that feelings “get in the way”.
In the past, before my diagnosis, I used to push the feelings away. I didn’t understand them, they were disturbing and annoying in my eyes, and therefore irrelevant. And I’m the first to admit that this is the worst way to deal with your feelings. That’s why I understand the point Vera made during her webinar. Being in touch with your feelings and emotions is very useful. Still, I am very happy myself without thinking and reasoning from my feelings. However, I also acknowledge for sure that Vera and I are very different people.
Neurodiversity and recognition
What comes out well during the webinar is the fact that Vera is a clear advocate of neurodiversity and the struggle for acceptance of autism. Several times she mentions the term neurotypical people and her whole story is a wonderful example of fighting for neurodiversity.
That’s why I’m glad I saw the webinar. Although Vera and I do not agree on all points, we are clearly on the same side. The stories she tells about herself and her family are beautiful to hear and reflect how neurodiverse people can hold their own in this society. She also gives good answers to the questions that were asked through the chat. Even though she didn’t answer everything by a long shot. This was not possible because of the chat speed. So many questions were asked that it was almost impossible to keep up with the chat.
Vera’s webinar is definitely a must-see! It can be looked back at her website and I hope it will still be available somewhere. I would also like to encourage everyone to join future webinars. Vera talks in a pleasant way about autism and her vision on neurodiversity.
I hope to be able to attend another webinar or lecture of hers in the future. The theories she brings forward are worth thinking about. The more voices there are from the Dutch neurodiverse side of society, the better in my opinion.