‘Autism Dialogue’ is the name given to a special form of group conversation, based on an established method of dialogue that facilitates open and honest sharing of thinking, by the free exchange of ideas, without an agenda. In dialogue, everyone can experience everyone else’s point of view fully and equally. This holistic approach to exploring autism is not being used anywhere else.
There is a set of easily learned skills that help to guide a group into an aligned way of thinking together. Dialogue is not debate, nor is it therapy, but it may have qualities of both, depending on who is there and what is spoken. A session can typically be set at between ninety minutes and four hours. When dialogue is working, new knowledge emerges from collective understanding.
Dialogue has been used extensively in organisational cohesion, in mental health as intervention, and now in the field of autism.
‘Bohm Dialogue’ (where we take most of our legacy from) is named after quantum physicist David Bohm, who developed a primary technique of group dialogue, along with Peter Garrett and Donald Factor in the 1980’s. Bohm was inspired by the way Native-American Indian communities regularly come together simply to be with each other and ‘say what needs to be said’, in order to maintain community strengths. Peter Garrett went on to develop dialogue and along with Jane Ball, set up Dialogue Associates, Prison Dialogue and the International Academy of Professional Dialogue. The pair are working with the U.N and international governments in areas such as migration.
Dialogue techniques have evolved and emerged and are in use globally, in all aspects of society. Experience has shown this radical method of non-judgemental group communication to be extremely beneficial for the consciousness, cohesion and development of organisations and communities and their members. For example, the detailed Prison Dialogue website provides an in-depth view, including videos from the Academy’s founders and users.
How to ‘do dialogue’.
Participants sit on chairs in a facilitated circle, there are no obligations except listening and no equipment is required. There is a set of easily learned and empirically-derived skills that help to guide the organisation or community into an aligned way of thinking together.
A dialogue has no predefined purpose, no agenda, other than that of inquiring into the movement of thought, and exploring the process of “thinking together” collectively, while suspending one’s assumptions and building on each other’s ideas, not challenging them. This activity can allow group participants to examine their preconceptions and prejudices, as well as to explore the more general movement of thought.
Autism is a phenomenon which raises far-reaching questions into the nature of self, identity, science, health, politics, cultures and society, with a wide range of often competing debates, theories and ideologies.
Autistic identities and emerging autistic sub-cultural groupings benefit from direct interactions within a safe space whose agenda is generosity and care, and whose aims are unification, deeper awareness, stronger participation, better respect and a greater openness and sense of potential. Participants from all backgrounds and experiences are be able to explore individual and collective consciousness and barriers to group settings, and normative social communication can be explored as part of the overall process.
We support strengths-based approaches to autism, cross-cultural perspectives, autistic identity, greater self-knowledge and a more enriched society.
Read The Four Dialogic Practices here.
Read our frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) here.