2011 Presentations

This page about Autscape 2011 is of historical interest only. Go to the home page for current information.



  1. An insider’s critique of the dominant psychological models of autism (Damian Milton)
  2. Owning autism research (Kalen)
  3. Owning our support: Personalisation - theory and reality (Yo)
  4. Pitfalls in autism diagnosis and support: reflections from an autistic doctor (Ava-Ruth Baker)
  5. Specialisterne Scotland - Passion for Details (Alastair Cooper)
  6. Use it or lose it. How autism has been owned, and how to claim it for ourselves (Larry Arnold)

Verbal workshops:

  1. Owning the languages of autism (Martijn Dekker)


An insider's critique of the dominant psychological models of autism

Presenter: Damian Milton

Download: Presentation slides

Description: This paper critically reflects upon the most recent attempts to build a psychological explanatory model of autistic spectrum conditions, from the viewpoint of an ‘insider’. This paper contains an overview and critique of the three dominant theories of more recent times: ‘theory of mind’ deficit, executive dysfunction, and weak coherence theory, followed by a critique comparing and contrasting two of the most recent models: empathising-systemising theory and monotropism theory. A major criticism of the majority of these models that is highlighted in this paper, is that they are formed from a perspective of a cognitive paradigm overly restricted by its total adherence to scientific method, often blind to sociological issues, and restrictive of the ‘autistic voice’ being heard. It is argued in this paper that the inconsistencies of these models need to be critiqued, in order to subvert the dominance they enjoy in defining what it is to be autistic.

Owning autism research

Presenter: Kalen

Description: Autistic people may be involved in autism research as participants, consumers, advisers, scientists and critics. As members of a group that is currently a hot topic for research, an understanding of the research process is particularly important for autistic people. This presentation will introduce participants to research ethics, methods, and results. Through this, we will explore the scope and limits of participants’ rights and what research is really telling us about autism. Finally, we will discuss ways in which we can communicate our interests so researchers can better focus their efforts in ways that will benefit us. Through an understanding of the research process, passive subjects can become active participants and collaborators, and uncritical recipients of media reports can become critical consumers of study results. Participants will leave this presentation with knowledge that will help to empower them to take active ownership of autism research whatever their involvement.

Owning our Support: Personalisation - theory and reality

Presenter: Yo

Download: Presentation slides

Description: This session will provide participants with an overview of the policies which are currently being implemented in social care services in the UK and how those policies are working in practice. Although the presentation will focus on the UK, this will also have some relevance to those from other countries, as similar systems of personal budgets operate in many other countries, including France, Germany, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. As well as the national picture, the presentation will offer examples of individual experiences of the current programme of personalisation. This will enable participants to relate their personal experiences to a wider context which may help them to make more informed choices about how and whether to own their own support.

Pitfalls in autism diagnosis and support: reflections from an autistic doctor

Presenter: Ava-Ruth Baker

Download: Presentation slides

Description: There is a vast range of methods and quality in attempts to provide autism diagnosis and support, but largely based on ‘outsider’ views. The presenter, who trained under autism professionals from both sides of the world, will share some of her own observations, experience and ideas from two decades working in this field, both before and after her place on the autism spectrum was formally confirmed. She will include examples of the shortcomings of current ‘outsider’ approaches to autism diagnosis, counselling and support, and allude to the personal struggles of working as an ‘insider’ in this field, amid feedback ranging from professional hostility to client appreciation for ‘insider’ insight.

Specialisterne Scotland - Passion for Details

Presenter: Alastair Cooper

Download: Presentation slides

Description: Specialisterne is a non-profit company originally set up in Denmark by Thorkil Sonne after his young son was diagnosed with autism. He set it up with a vision of enabling people with autism to make positive use of their differences in the field of information technology, specifically software testing, having found that many of these perceived disabilities were extremely beneficial in this area. Specialisterne Scotland is the first overseas expansion of Specialisterne, based in Glasgow. It currently employs several people with autism in the field of software testing and runs an on-going recruitment and training cycle. Alastair will discuss the operation of Specialisterne Scotland, and the opportunity it has presented to him personally as a person with high-functioning autism and some computing background. He will also talk about the recruitment process for Specialisterne, and how the training programme might be of interest to Autscape attendees.

Use it or lose it. How autism has been owned, and how to claim it for ourselves

Presenter: Larry Arnold

Description: This presentation intends to ground the concept of owning autism historically and build upon that to give a historical perspective to where we are currently at in terms of self advocacy, and to give a very pragmatic basis in the various ways, both large and small that an individual can bring the focus of "ownership" back to the people who live with and have to deal with the consequences of the way autism is currently understood and controlled in terms of the way the diagnosis is given and services provided. Larry considers that taking ownership of autism is a very important tool in self advocacy and one which can be asserted in many ways at many levels. His presentation is definitively not a part of his research role but wholly of his advocacy role and comes from his background in a lot of disability movements.

Verbal workshops

Owning the languages of autism

Presenter: Martijn Dekker

Download: Annotated presentation slides

Description: Words have not just a literal meaning but also a connotation. Connotations hiding in words like "empathy", "happy", "behaviour", "repetitive", "epidemic" may be used to influence your personal life as well as the position of the autistic community in society. This workshop will start with a presentation outlining currently used autism-related expressions and turns of phrase in European languages, and on how these influence the situation of autistic people in the corresponding countries. This is meant to inspire a moderated participant discussion on topics including: