theCurlyHairProjectAutism spectrum disorders (ASD), which include Asperger’s Syndrome, have been at the centre of documentaries, an oscar winning movie starring Dustin Hoffman and a best selling novel that even went on to take Broadway and the West End by storm. But most research so far has focused on the male presentation, with the challenges facing females who are affected just starting to be explored. The curly hair project (CHP) is a social enterprise with worldwide appeal, dedicated to supporting females with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and other autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

NorDevCon 2016 will support The Curly Hair Project as its chosen good cause to help spread the word about this important project. Sam Ramsay, Associate Trainer at CHP reveals her hopes for what the exposure at the conference may mean for the project, “Firstly we’re delighted to have been invited to be a part of NorDevCon. We hope that we are able to use this forum to raise awareness in the technology industry of the challenges that those on the autistic spectrum face on a daily basis, from an industry that is very important to those on the spectrum. The online community provides great support for those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and it is suspected that there are many undiagnosed with ASD in technology and IT industries. The Curly Hair Project aims to educate those both on the spectrum and their neurotypical loved ones of the benefits that can be gained through understanding and improved communication.”

NorDevCon presents a unique opportunity for many businesses across a wide variety of sectors. We asked Sam why she thinks NorDevCon offers such a valuable opportunity for CHP; “This is a unique opportunity to reach a community who may not all have seen the amazing work that the Curly Hair Project does, for those on the Autistic Spectrum and their neurotypical loved ones.

Many people with ASD are great with technology and we would like to improve awareness of what someone with ASD can offer an organisation. We hope to educate employers when considering ASD applicants – you will gain a highly focused, reliable and dedicated employee with a real gift for attention to detail. The ASD employee is also likely to have very logical thought processing skills – a real asset for the technology and IT industry. So don’t dismiss them because they have ASD, shortlist them!”

The NHS define ASD as “a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. It includes Asperger’s Syndrome and childhood autism.” Living with the condition, or living with someone with the condition can be challenging but also very rewarding. The Curly Hair Project (CHP) reaches people through a whole range of media from books to workshops and social media to blogs. Even if you’re not directly affected by ASD at home, Sam believes that “it is still really helpful to learn more about the condition in order to be more understanding of others at work and in social settings.”

Paul Grenyer, NorDevCon organiser and director at Naked Element, explains “My eldest son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome just over a year ago, so I wanted to find out more about about what it is and what it means for him. My wife did some research, came across The Girl with the Curly Hair book and suggested I read it. I found that it was a really useful tool in understanding the disorder and some really important things, like why he reacts the way he does to certain things. In fact I found the book so insightful and useful in my own search for information about Asperger’s Syndrome, that the Curly Hair Project was the natural choice as the good cause to support at NorDevCon 2016.”

From speaking with Sam it’s clear that her passion for CHP transcends into its efforts to raise awareness of ASD as well as the important work the project do for the female ASD community. Sam reaffirms “The Curly Hair Project is thrilled to be the good cause of choice this year as we are keen to reach a new section of the community who may not have seen our work before. We are grateful for the opportunity to work alongside NorDevCon and by doing so, will hopefully add a new dimension to the world of technology in East Anglia and beyond. Thank you for inviting us, we look forward to meeting you all!”

NorDevCon 2016 will take place from the 25th – 27th February 2016 at The King’s Centre in Norwich. To buy tickets or find out about sponsorship opportunities go to www.nordevcon.com