There are over 700,000 people in the UK alone are on the autism spectrum.
As the term ‘spectrum’ implies, autism effects every person differently. Some people may not need any additional support. There are lots of people who get diagnosed later in life and I’m sure are plenty who are never diagnosed at all. Where as others may need a full time carer from a young age and there are thousands upon thousands of people who fall somewhere in between.
As a society, there are lots of really easy little things that we can do to make life for people on the autism spectrum much, much easier. For instance people on the spectrum may struggle to understand subtle social cues or may take the things that people say very literally so if you happen to work with someone with autism its worth adapting the way we communicate with or around that person.
Though not purely for autism, a fantastic example of this real world change is ‘quiet hour’ implemented at a number of supermarkets such as Morrison’s and ASDA. A common characteristic of autism is over (or under) sensitive senses. So in Morrison’s – for instance – from 9-10am on a Saturday morning the lights are dimmed, the music is turned off, checkout ‘beeps’ and other electrical noises are turned down and there’s a reduced movement of stock and trolleys. It’s a relatively small change in the grand scheme of that type of business, but i’m sure it makes shopping a much more pleasant experience for a lot of people.
In 2007 the U.N made April 2nd Autism Awareness Day. Lots of charities and organisations partake in Autism Acceptance Week which falls around the 2nd April (this year it was 28th of March to the 3rd of April) to raise awareness and fund raise for the cause.
Although it hasn’t been able to take place for the past couple of years, the team at Brentwood RC Raceway host an autism awareness banger meet. I got to go back in 2018 (which you can read about here: https://motorsportformentalhealth.com/2018/04/02/brentwood-rc-raceway-autism-awareness-meet/) The last one I went to was a huge meet with 80 bangers booked in and I was very much looking forward to doing it again.
This year it would be any shell ABS bangers with 1300 stock cars in support. I’d be running a Mercedes W210 E-Class.
The support the event had this year was unbelievable! There was a huge main raffle which had prizes including literal packs of banger shells, to vouchers for the spares shop, vouchers for sign writing, Easter eggs and even a Little Tikes car. There were even secondary raffles: one for a laptop which raised £110 and another for an ‘arrive and drive’ custom built Limo, built, sign written and maintained by Daniel Jordan which was won by Peter Bowley, who in turn was sponsored to shave off his beard for the charity.
In its’ first heat the car got trapped on the wire fencing and everyone was running into it. I thought I had it on video but I only took a photo. Gutted is not the word as it would have been great footage!
In total there were 110 drivers at the event which is by far the biggest RC meet of any kind that I’ve attended. The cars were all put on track for the smart car award and for photos. I got as many as I could, but I’m really sorry if I missed your car. As you can imagine there were a lot of people taking pictures and space on track was limited.
I was pitting with a team from Kings Lynn who were very chatty and welcoming. It was really nice to catch up with some of the drivers from Brentwood, Chelmsford and Basildon too. The meet had a really good, friendly atmosphere which was amazing to see.
As you can imagine the racing was pretty chaotic but it was a great laugh! There was a heat for the juniors and three heats for the adults. There were three races for each heat and the results would determine if you got into the ‘A’ final or ‘B’ final.
I had a couple of electrical gremlins to work through throughout the day so I only qualified for the ‘B’ final. which ended like this haha!
I had an absolutely brilliant time. If the day job didn’t need me to work some weekends I could really get into RC banger racing. It’s a great social hobby and there’s a lot of shells that I would love to make and race.
Even with work and other full size car events, I think that Brentwood’s Autism Awareness meet is going to have a permanent spot in my calendar. It was superbly run, had a great atmosphere, raises money for a good cause and is really the sort of thing I want to do more of with this blog. It’s just excellent!
Brentwood RC are still taking donations and a final amount will be published at the end of the month, which I’ll be sure to edit in here, but on the day £2580.63 was raised which is absolutely incredible. Congratulations to all involved! The money will be split between the National Autistic Society and Romford Autistic Group Support (RAGS)
If you’d like to make a donation get in touch with the team at Brentwood RC here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1638688609727269
Or donate directly here:
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By Richard Francis