“We want to make sure that inclusivity is part of the festival as a whole. There is no separate programme.”

“But the most important thing is that everyone in the festival is trying to be sensitive. From the organisers to our helpers, we want everyone to be considerate. We are really keen to hear from Autist’s and their families. Tell us what we can do to make our events feel comfortable for you.”

The programme has always included events which celebrate diversity from film screenings to art exhibitions from Treetops, the Base for Autism at West Wimbledon Primary School.

Merton stories This year one of the key exhibitions will be by London-based artist,

April Li, and will celebrate Merton stories. April is a mother to two children with disabilities and she brings to life stories of families affected by disability. The stories will be printed out and portraits will be shown at the Lantern Arts Centre.

“These stories are still being developed and we would love to hear from more local families about their experience. We want to raise awareness and understanding – and that doesn’t always mean sympathy,” explains Tom.

He points to the story of one mother with two non-verbal sons. Her most common reaction from others, “I’m so sorry”. Why sorry she retorts. I have two beautiful sons and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A coming of age story The festival will also feature a film screening of Life Animated, a coming of age story about a boy and his family who overcame great challenges by turning Disney animated movies into a language to express love, loss, kinship and brotherhood.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Kelly Hunter. Kelly is the artistic director of Flute Theatre, a charity bringing Shakespeare productions to life with autistic people.

The rest of the panel will be confirmed nearer the time as the festival as a whole takes shape. Tom is keen to stress that there are still opportunities to get involved.

“The festival is a huge undertaking every year. We are so grateful to RPCC and all of the local organisations and businesses which support us. However, we are always looking for help. So if you can help to deliver leaflets or your business can support in some way, please let us know,” added Tom.

Ultimately the festival is about promoting community. In fact part of its unique charm is that it is a festival which is put together for, and also by, the community.

If you would like to find out more about the festival, visit


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