Jude Morrow – Community Calling Podcast #1
At the age of 11, Jude was diagnosed with autism. Despite daily struggles within education, Jude went to Ulster University and qualified as a social worker in 2012. Within the same year, Jude also became a father. Jude’s experience of being a father with autism was the inspiration for his best selling memoir “Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad?” – published by Beyond Words.
Jude is a strong advocate for autism at all stages of life, including adulthood. Through his business Neurodiversity Training International (NTI), Jude provides training to parents, teachers, groups and workplaces. He aims to help them understand autism and help the development of children and adults living with autism.
In this episode we discuss with Jude Morrow what life is like living with autism, the support that NTI offers to society, and the launch of his second book ‘Love On The Spectrum’. Jude also offers great advice for anyone who is interested in finding more about autism support groups in the community and how to get involved.
Enquire about support from Jude Morrow
Vanessa McGeehan 0:00
Hey Jude, how are you?
Jude Morrow 0:01
Hello Vanessa. I‘m really well. I‘m really happy to be speaking with you again, so thanks for extending the invite.
Vanessa McGeehan 0:06
I am so excited to have you on the first ever podcast episode with Community Calling.
Jude Morrow 0:13
Vanessa McGeehan 0:13
Jude, I would love to chat to you and learn a bit more about your experience with autism and how it led you towards starting your own business and also becoming a best selling author.
Jude Morrow 0:23
I‘m an autistic author, social worker and speaker, and soon to be TEDx speaker as well whenever the events in February has been rescheduled, so all really exciting things. Whenever my first book, ‘Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad‘ came out, it was a real different narrative shift and that normally people believe that most autism related literature is about parents writing about their kids. But really I‘m an autistic dad with a non autistic son, so it‘s just a different take on the narrative and kind of gives the example of how I live life and how I see things and interact with things, rather than what other people think autistic people perceive the world or even lack of understanding. A lot of misconceptions exist and are out there and I suppose that‘s how Neuro Diversity Training International was founded – to give a new motivational and uplifting view of autism and autistic people. Teachers, if they do any training at all, or even parents if they do any sessions at all, it‘s all so negatively based on it‘s all based upon negative stereotypes that are at best misnamed, and at worst, completely misleading. I just want to give a bit of hope and inspiration that, you know, autistic kids like me can grow up to live happy and successful lives and how teachers can form better relationships with autistic pupils in their classrooms. Whenever people play to the strengths of autistic kids, amazing things happen so I just want to propagate that message out into the universe.
Vanessa McGeehan 2:01
I think what you‘re doing is very important. Many people young and old, believe that they can‘t do things or reach their full potential because they have autism and that is absolutely not the case. So I think what you‘re doing is so important, and showing them that they have talents and and how they can use them effectively as well.
Jude Morrow 2:19
Yeah, that‘s exactly what I want to achieve. Like, every week I run ‘Motivational Mondays‘, and it‘s for parents and even teens can come along to it as well. It‘s completely free. It‘s every Monday. It‘s on Eventbrite and what I want to show is that there are so many autistic heroes out in the world, the likes of Einstein and Michelangelo, Stanley Kubrick, Darryl Hannah, Eveline Welcome, Chris De Holdenberg, there‘s a million of them male and female. There‘s autistic heroes everywhere and we are living happy and successful lives and defying the limitations that are put on us. I suppose in the large part, well meaning professionals, it‘s always good to hear about autism from autistic people, rather than what other people viewed is as from an outside view. So that‘s really what I want to achieve, as I mean, whenever autism comes into people‘s lives or comes into people‘s households, there‘s an automatic feeling of fear and despair simply because there‘s so many sad stories and negativities out there, whether it‘s on the internet or books. I just want to have parents set off in the right direction. My parents had the same fears they had and if they had a session like the one that I provide, because they were instrumental in the forming of all of the the NTI training, and if they had have had some session like that to lift their spirits, then they might not worried about my adulthood so much during my childhood,
Vanessa McGeehan 3:50
With your business, Neurodiversity Training International, I know that you work alongside parents and teachers supporting them, but what exactly do you do in your business to support them?
Jude Morrow 4:01
At this minute, it‘s a completely online platform, given the uncertainty with Covid lockdowns, school closures, and everything else. Everything is now completely online. So at this minute every Monday there is the Motivational Monday event which is for parents and it‘s free. It‘s to try and give a bit of inspiration, a bit of hope, and not the usual misery and despair that‘s sent around by others. On Tuesdays, we have teaching Tuesdays and NTI is a CPD certified accredited provider. It‘s an open session, any teacher and teaching assistant, or student teachers can sign up to it every Tuesday at six o‘clock. So they come along and learn a couple of useful things about autistic people, what works in classrooms, and basically given that strength based approach. I can be booked for schools as well. And funnily enough, yesterday I was on I had a virtual session with my old Primary School which is Oakgrove Primary School, and it was a lovely trip down memory lane. The feedback from it has been incredible since yesterday. So yeah, people can reach out to me to come into schools. Well, whenever we‘re allowed to go back under schools, but the session can be given virtually with pretty much the same impact, so I mean that option is there as well. I‘ll be moving on to the workplaces kind of spheres as well, because there‘s a lot of autistic people in the workforce, and to even encourage employers to become more inclusive of autistic people to learn about what it is and to show that autistic talent can really bring positive outcomes for workplaces everywhere. So I suppose that‘s NTI in a couple of paragraphs.
Vanessa McGeehan 5:44
I think that‘s a very important point that you‘re making Jude, especially because there is a lot of focus that is out on children with autism. People tend to forget that within society, there are adults within the workforce and within day to day lives who have autism and they need the support also.
Jude Morrow 6:02
Yeah, exactly, and we grow up like I did. I was autistic child that grew up to be an autistic man. There are many, many more like me out there, and it‘s actually really sad Vanessa. I‘ve had the pleasure in my speaking tours to speak to so many groups, and schools and even adults, even autistic adult groups. There is so much talent, there‘s people out there with multiple degrees, you know, multiple qualifications, at the highest level from the most prestigious universities around the world. Unfortunately, the recruitment process globally isn‘t very inclusive for autistic and neuro diverse people. So that‘s what I want companies to achieve is to have a more inclusive environment, and be able to actively create more opportunities for autistic people that may be more outside the box than the traditional kind of interview, CV kind of process because a lot of us are great at selling ourselves in this artificial environment of interviews, where you‘re scored on buzzwords rather than the actual talent and skills that you actually possess.
Vanessa McGeehan 7:13
Interviews are very difficult to master. So I think it would be amazing if there was some support there to help people with autism to master interviews and to help them get their talents across better as well.
Jude Morrow 7:26
Yeah, like even one real prime example. I was speaking with a guy and this was all the rage of my second book, which was actually later this year. He had the highest levels of qualifications in aerospace engineering. He had a Master‘s, a PhD postdoctorate, even had 1000 flying hours of his own and a private pilot pilot‘s licence, had even created some patentable energy efficient turbine engines, and even twin propeller engines, everything! Whenever he graduated with his PhD and postdoctoral and everything else, he couldn‘t get in anywhere workwise, because he was getting turned down at every interview he went to. It was a real, real sad story that this talent, this intellect, this real innovator, would be kept out by such an oppressive practice as CVs, interviews, and so on, because it would be impossible to be any more qualified in an academic field and even a working field, like aerospace engineer that he has. I mean, you name it, he has it. Eventually it took a really good well known neuro inclusive employer to actually give him that chance and he‘s excelled ever since. But it was really three or four years in the wilderness of waiting for employment and I mean, that‘s not uncommon among the autistic community. No matter what your discipline is your trade your qualifications, it‘s that employers aren‘t really offering the opportunities that we should be offered, because only 16% of us are in paid employment. So as far as that figure, I‘m in the minority and say that 16% but I mean, there is another 84%, who cannot find meaningful, full time paid employment. And that‘s something that ultimately, I want to make a solid foundation on changing.
Vanessa McGeehan 9:18
I think that‘s a really good goal to work towards, I think with the work that you‘re doing. And it‘s very credible as well, because we are living through it. And you have had your own experiences so, with all that you have lived through and that you‘ve learned, you‘re giving people really, really good advice and really good help.
Jude Morrow 9:32
Yeah, lived experiences is always so important. I mean, and it‘s not just necessarily that simply being autistic gives me a licence to say what I think best for everybody. But even in my own professional background as a social worker, as well as the marginalisation the oppression that exists in society the medical model of disability which exists which has plagued everybody. There‘s those that have, you know, physical differences or neuro differences like me, there‘s, there‘s just a lot of oppression that still exists. I mean, it‘s very easy to believe as an outsider that society is a lot more inclusive now than it has ever been. I suppose in a lot of ways, that‘s true, but we still have a very, very long way to go I think, and I just want to do my best to try and progress things a little bit faster and a little bit further.
Vanessa McGeehan 10:26
Alongside your business you have also released the best selling book called, ‘Why Does Daddy Look So Sad?‘ And you have another book coming out this year. Sowhatisthatcalled?Andwhatisthisabout?
Jude Morrow 10:38
The second book is called ‘Loving Your Place On The Spectrum‘ and it‘s not a sequel to ‘Why Does Daddy Always Look So Sad?‘, because within the first book I wrote about pretty much my whole life and I‘ve only been away for 30 years. I have not much life left to write about other than what was written in the first book. The second book I suppose is more wide ranging for people that want to learn more about autism, and autistic people. It‘s like a collection of short stories and there‘s other contributors, other autistic contributors who describe their experiences. I give my take on a lot of discussions that happen on the subject of autism. I do talk about employment spaces, and even try and provide some advice and guidance to parents who are only becoming newly acquainted with autism and about having a strengths based approach and how neurodiversity is the real way forward. I wanted to be like a blueprint for neuro diversity in how other places, groups, schools, workplaces, can all be inclusive, because as autistic people, what we really are in essence is another diversity group. There‘s so many different strands of diversity, whether it‘s gender diversity, racial diversity, sexuality diversity, national identity, diversity, no matter what may be. With us as autistic people were just another diversity group in our own right, that just wants to be accepted for who we are, rather than being changed and brought into line with everybody else. So that‘s the kind of executive summary of ‘Loving Your Place On The Spectrum‘. It‘s going to be out later this year, with a launch event at the industrial event space in Las Vegas, which is going to be at a partnership event between the Think Network and Beyond Words Publisher, who‘s my publisher. So that‘s all exciting. That‘s all coming up later this year. But one thing I have learned is not to count your chickens, because we don‘t know where the word is going to be by September. is there going to be more lockdowns? A nuclear war? But I suppose yeah, that‘s kind of the summary of of the second book.
Vanessa McGeehan 12:45
Hopefully with the whole pandemic it‘ll be cleared up and it means that you‘ll be able to enjoy your book.
Jude Morrow 12:51
I know, I hope so. Because there was a lot of work undertaken between me and Beyond Works Publisher. I was actually going to the states to give a couple of guest lectures at Stanford, I was visiting a couple of groups, a couple of media appearances, and so on out there in San Francisco, in the Bay Area, and and surrounding cities. I was actually headlining a conference out there which is the Autism Goes To Work conference, which was organised by some career pathways, of course, it was all cancelled all been done in the pan. I had to enjoy my book launch and my eyes on my own, that I don‘t want a repeat of that again, because you only get one debut book launch you know, it won‘t be the same. But hopefully we can make up for it in some respects,
Vanessa McGeehan 13:33
We‘re so excited to see the release of your book, and it‘s going to help and inspire so many people.
Jude Morrow 13:38
Yeah, and that‘s really what I want to do. I want people to move away from that, you know, autistic people have a lot of deficits. We don‘t we actually have more strengths than deficits and always will have. i just want people to get a move away from that space and just to have a bit more hope and a bit more positivity than what currently exists. So, I mean, hopefully everything works out. All I can do is cross the fingers light the candles, that there‘ll be some kind of resemblance of what normality used to be by the time the books released.
Vanessa McGeehan 14:15
For anyone who has a child or a family member with autism, or for someone who‘s just passionate and interested in volunteering. What advice would you have in finding groups within the community and also finding the group that‘s right for them?
Jude Morrow 14:29
There‘s loads of groups out there locally, they‘re all listed on Google. All people really need to Google is autism support groups in Derry and they all do come up. I‘ve met them all. They‘re all fantastic. They all have great missions and great people involved with them. Even on Facebook, they‘re easily searched, and a lot of people would believe that you need a diagnosis to join these groups, and categorically you don‘t because every single group I‘ve ever met I‘ve always asked ‘do you need a diagnosis to join?‘. It‘s not just locally, but regionally and even worldwide, because waiting lists and assessment waiting lists are always so long and ultimately parents, waiting for a diagnosis only serves to do one thing. That‘s to tell you what you already know, either that you‘re autistic or you have an autistic child. Having a diagnosis isn‘t the keys to the kingdom that will get you all the help and support to kind of avalanched upon you, it just doesn‘t work that way. So, I always urge parents to be proactive, and to look out and see what supports and groups that you can join. There‘s loads of online ones that are popping up here and there and I urge everybody to reach out message them. That‘s for kids of all ages, there‘s virtual events, there‘s meet-ups online virtually that happen in the comfort of people‘s own homes, and there‘s a lot of things going on. There‘s a lot of things happening and I would urge every parent to be proactive, and actually look and talk to several different groups and see which one was the best fit for you. What I do with the Motivational Monday Sessions is to have a free weekly resource it‘s live like I‘m there and taking questions and telling my own story, because there‘s a lot of questions that I cover that are related apply to me whenever I was growing up, like my parents asked a lot of questions they may be asking themselves like, and they‘re like, my parents asked me what I will do to get on with school, I will just get on secondary school, I will just get on being an adult, will they ever be able to live on his own will they have a family on his own. And all that worrying that my parents did was very often misspent because I was always determined new, but I wanted to do a lot of artistic people are the same. It‘s just that it‘s not really allowed to blossom within certain kids and teens. Because of the oppressive models that exist more. It‘s more about correcting what others be as deficits rather than really play into strengths and nurturing talent.
Vanessa McGeehan 16:54
I think that‘s a really great tip. Just because that you know someone who goes to group doesn‘t mean that‘s going to be the right fit for you. it also might not be the right time or in the right location. So I think it‘s important to do things for yourself as well.
Jude Morrow 17:09
Yeah, exactly. And even as a social worker, I worked in primary care and I‘ve seen pretty much every illness, you can say at this stage in the nine years that I‘ve got the job. I‘ve seen pretty much everything every form of cancer, dementia, and motor neurone disease, I mean you name it, I‘ve seen in helping people to care for people or live with it. The best form of support that I‘ve ever seen, and this covers both medical and social, is support groups where you know that you‘re not alone in the world, and that there‘s other carers or parents going through the same things. That really helps create a vibrant community of advice, guidance and support for each other, and no form of pharmaceutical medication will ever top that. I think that‘s really important for parents to know and I mean, some groups will work some groups will not due to meeting times and stuff like that. It‘s just about finding the right fit for you and ask around, try around like people aren‘t shy to try clothes on clothes shops, that should be the same with groups.
Vanessa McGeehan 18:13
Going forward now, what do you think your plans are going to be for the NIT?
Jude Morrow 18:20
Well I would hope to make plans if anybody likes a solid plan and guideline, it‘s me. I love plans, I love planning things and I overthink a plan things to death. But whenever you plan things, the governments find a way to pull the rug out from under you. It‘s very hard to find a definite plan, but I suppose for this year for any school bookings that we‘re getting, we‘re going to be doing them all online. I am not going to actually visit any schools for the rest of this academic year. Whether that‘s secondary schools or primary schools or even private units, I will not be going in person to any of them. The training still has the same impact that it has, and I mean, I have all the details on the NIT website, which is neurodiversity–training.com. People can even book calls with me too and please do so chat to me. I love meeting new people and talking to different people and I can always come up with something that will best benefit their workplace, their school, their group, or whatever it may be. So I suppose that‘s the kind of plan so far along with a wing and a prayer, I suppose, seeing how things go.
Vanessa McGeehan 19:32
Jude, thank you so much for joining us today on the podcast. The team at Community calling are so excited to see what you‘re going to be doing over the next couple of months and how you‘re going to be helping people as well.
Jude Morrow 19:42
I know Fingers crossed. And look thank you so much again for having me on. Always love a chat with you Vanessa and for anybody that is listening and for you and for anybody else in the community network. Please reach out to me my doors always open so and I can‘t stress that enough
Brilliant Jude. Chat later!
Bye. No problem, Vanessa. Look, take care of yourself. Bye bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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