Interview with Olley Edwards, filmmaker, author and campaigner for women on the autistic spectrum

Olley Edwards

Olley Edwards

You have been on BBC Radio 4 chatting on Woman’s Hour about Aspergers and late diagnosis. How did this come about?

I was called by the National Autistic Society press team in regards to Woman’s Hour, asking If I felt comfortable to share our story on air. It was an obvious “yes!” and a fantastic tool to reach out to others on a national level. Dr Gould was also in attendance which I was unaware of untill about 15 minutes before we went live, which was a lovely surprise and made the experinece much more enjoyable

You also recently attended the BAFTA’s. How was this experience?

Bafta was the Women in film and TV AGM and Birthady party event which was a powerhouse of women in media who all support one another and make connections. It was a wonderful evening with lovely food! Most of all I was grateful to meet so many other women who really are breaking the glass ceilings of equality in media

Can you tell me about your recent survey ‘Female Autistic Traits in Males’ and why you have gathered this information? Who is it in collaboration with?

I have recently conducted a flash 24 hour survey  and written a draft paper.  The  paper is about the importance of gender fluidity being taken into account at point of diagnosis. I think this is really important, just as Autism is a spectrum so is humanity! We are also a wonderful, complexity of gender. Just as many women who present with more male Autistic traits  were firstly “picked up” as Autistic before the more feminine traits and presentation were, I fear now that in the mass explosion of Females and Autism ( which is amazing don’t get me wrong), that now some men who present more feminine traits will be overlooked and unsupported. A group that will neither fit “neatly” into either “box”. The knowledge of Autistic females and their many presentations has been,  I feel, one of the most important paths of awareness, not just in Autism but in health as a whole. I do feel though that it’s important in raising awareness to look at all aspects, hence the survey. The feedback was outstanding. I look forward to sharing this in September some time

You are incredibly busy at the moment, but do you have any more future plans?

Right now it’s the summer holidays and my daily plan and goals are quite simply keeping 3 young ladies happy.  I have recently wriiten a draft comment to be suggested for the United Nations Human Rights of Women and Disabilities, and I have mentioned the gender fluidity while also talking about the importance of meaningful sexual health education and the training of how to report abuse if you are Autistic. Theory of mind prevents such reporting, this is a really important area that needs to be implemented to ensure that disabled females have the equality of safeguarding as do women with other disabilities or non disabilities. As of September,  I am looking forward to working on the paper i mentioned above and sharing it , I am planning to write a power point presentation for America and I am looking forward to hearing which festivals Epidemic of knowledge is accepted into between now and April

I would also like to send a heartfelt thank you to all my friends in the UK and US who have supported my film and many other projects and have been a daily backbone. They know who they are and I just want to say THANK YOU

We would like to thank Olley for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to sharing Epidemic of Knowledge with you next year, and thank you Olley for all of the work that you do in campaigning for women on the spectrum.