The coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed all of our lives. We’ve been working at SWAN to ensure that our peer-support within our community continued, with our existing services being moved online since March this year. SWAN has been proactively supporting autistic women and girls throughout the pandemic in a number of ways. 

At the start of COVID-19 lockdown, we were given funding via the Scottish Government’s Community Wellbeing fund, immediately matched by charity Inspiring Scotland. We’ve received £6000 in total so far to support our COVID-19 mental wellbeing activities.

Our SWAN COVID-response activities so far:

SWAN Mental Health and Wellbeing Webinars 

A series of webinars focusing on mental health and wellbeing

  • ‘Autistic experiences of COVID-19 ‘lockdown’’ with Sarah Hendrickx 
  • ‘Staying at home with the children’ with Carly Jones, MBE
  • ‘Autistic joy: special interests and hobbies’ with members of the SWAN Wedge
  • ‘Writing the Spectrum: using writing and mixed media for wellbeing’. Led by Aileen Paterson from The Wedge and Glasgow Women’s Library.
  • ‘CHIME: a mental health recovery model’. This was held as a focus group to inform Scottish Government and led by guest, Jenn Layton Annable, whose PhD is focussing on mental health recovery for autistic women.

The summary from that focus group can be downloaded as a PDF 

  • ‘Woodland Wellbeing Session’ led by Lou Irvine founder of Glasgow-based social enterprise, Wellbeing Rebels. Wellbeing Rebels – Home  This session was donated by Scottish Forestry 
  • ‘Is a swan gliding or paddling? Autistic masking and how it looks versus how it feels’. With Rony Casement and members of SWAN Wedge
  • ‘Peer support and identity’ led by members of SWAN Wedge
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (also known as tapping) ‘taster’ session with guest Tricia Murray 
  • ‘Masking, part 2’. A follow-on from the previous session on masking by request, led by Rony Casement.
  • ‘Work-place accommodations’ led by SWAN Wedge
  • ‘Welcome to the World 2.0 or How To Cope With Going Out And Doing Stuff Again’ led by SWAN Wedge
  • AUG 24th Autism and Employment with SWAN and TripleA
  • SEPT 7th Mental Health Special: panel with Jenn Lyaton Annable, researcher into mental health recovery for autistic women, Diane Marr from the Cyrenians,  Becky Beth, SWAN Wedge advisor and nurse, and Ruth Moyse, late diagnosed autistic woman, mother and researcher into school ‘refusal’ of autistic girls. 
  • SEPT 21st The ‘PlayingA/Part’ team from Kent University on autism, identity and creativity 

Approximately 40-50 women have taken part in these webinars, with many attending regularly. 

COVID-19/Autism specific counselling services

We’ve been delivering 1-1 counselling services to autistic women who have elevated mental health demands due to covid. This service is still available. It’s not means-tested or questioned – if you ask for help, it’s assumed you need it. This service is delivered by qualified, accredited professional counsellors who are also autistic.

Advice to Independent Advisory Group (IAG) to review Police Scotland’s use of new temporary police powers to tackle coronavirus. (Heading)

SWAN Organisational Development Lead, Catriona Stewart, was invited to be a member of the IAG. She delivered an early briefing document for Police Scotland on behalf of the autistic community. She ran an online survey of autistic experiences of the COVID-19 emergency legislation and guidelines which included questions on autistic people’s lived experiences and human rights. The briefing document and outcome from that survey, and the accompanying report, are available to download below as pdf documents:

Download the Briefing document

Download the Survey outcomes and report document

Catriona also delivered a ‘live’ report to the autistic experiences of COVID-19 legislation and guidelines to a special meeting of the advisory group, the Board of SPA and PS and interested members of ‘the public’. Her introduction to the event is at 15.00 and her report is broadcast at 1.06.24. Please note, the event itself doesn’t start until around 8 or so minutes into the recording so please click on  ‘play’ and then forward at least 8 minutes:

The WomenBeing COVID-19 talks 

led by Monica Martins from Queen Margaret University, Musselburgh. 

SWAN ODL Dr Catriona Stewart took part in one of a series of ‘peer-to-peer’ talks between women from around the world about their experiences of the global pandemic; these talks were recorded and are all available on the WomenBeing website.

©2023 Scottish Women's Autism Network. All Rights Reserved.



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