2016 Presentations

This page about Autscape 2016 is of historical interest only. Go to the home page for current information.

2016 Programme Contents

2016 Lectures

Expectations of what 'Autistic' means and how this impacts upon self identity

Kabie Brook

Often people's expectations of who we are and how we identify, are at odds with how we feel ourselves.

Maintaining a strong and healthy sense of self identity can be challenging when those around us do not respect the way we choose to identify or expect us to be able to fit only the stereotypes they themselves have created in relation to who they think autistic people are.

As a representative the stakes can be higher, our identity is often under even more scrutiny and this can have a direct impact upon our effectiveness at ensuring the views of those who wish to be represented are heard and taken seriously.

In my lecture I will explore these ideas and suggest solutions to some of the commonest pitfalls, as well as steps we can take to protect ourselves when surrounded by those who refuse to accept us.

Whose identity?

Dr. Larry Arnold

Is identity something we adopt for ourselves, or is it conferred externally. Do we have multiple identities in different settings and is our autistic identity only one of these?

Is an identity defined by a psychiatric condition ever anything other than stigmatising, or is it a response to stigma? Do we internalise oppression within our identity or make a bold stand against it?

I discovered the world of autistic identity more than a decade ago and the world of autistic culture within which I expressed it has moved in the intervening years, so I ask this series of questions based around the question of whether that original identity is still valid and if so where it is valid.

My long experience of the autistic community has enabled me to observe changes in the way that it has been expressed over the years.

Autistic identity and the limits of inclusion

Martijn Dekker
Presentation slides (PDF, 1.5MB)

This lecture attempts to evaluate how the concepts of autistic culture and identity developed since the 1990s and to extrapolate where we should go in the future.

Autism is not excluded from the "culture wars" now going on in Western societies at large, in which identity is central. As identities become ever more politicised, people are increasingly invested in them, leading both to more tight-knit communities and more polarisation between them. This lecture will explore the concept of inclusion in the context of ever-increasing polarisation, and what the implications are for the autistic community in general and for Autscape in particular.

Trends are parallel but different in the US, the UK, Europe and in the rest of the world. The autistic community remains fragmented, with different factions in various countries sometimes unaware of each others' existence. Options for bridging the gaps between the various islands will be discussed.

The Professional Auty

John Wilson

Some professionals think they know all about autism. And some actually have autism. Is there a difference?

Professions have rules. And the legal profession is even all about rules. They teach you them during training. Or so they say. But they're just the written down rules.

What about all the unwritten rules and customs and practices that professions have, especially the law? Can an auty survive and even thrive in such an environment without being 'one of the chaps'? How does this exclusion affect a professional auty?

My thesis is that whilst autism tends to be viewed as a minus, especially by NTs, sometimes nothing could be further from the truth. But then the danger is it may be perceived as a threat to the status quo. So I will speak about my experience and provide some reflections.

Autistics doing it for themselves: participation in academic research

Peter Baimbridge and Daniel Poole

There is increasing recognition of a serious divide between the research and autism communities. Specifically, autistic adults and family members do not feel engaged in research and voice concerns that researchers are not working on issues that are important to them (Pellicano et al, 2014).

In an attempt to bridge this divide a series of workshops were developed by autism@manchester in collaboration with SalfordAutism. These workshops were designed to improve communication between the autistic and research communities, aiming to increase the involvement of the autism community in the lifecycle of research.

In this presentation two of the organisers- Peter Baimbridge and Dr Daniel Poole will discuss data collected at the workshops, and reflect on how the workshops were developed and implemented

Training You, From A Dog's Point Of View

Marie Yates
Dogs have a lot in common with those of us with Autism. They have exceptional sensory capabilities, they only tell their truth and they work best when teaching is presented in a clear, logical manner. This session will offer a unique take on coping with the nuances that come with being Autistic; taking lessons from a canine friend. Functioning in a neurotypical world requires a huge amount of adaptation and resilience. We will take a journey, through the story of a rescue dog, identifying some key skills that we can use to enhance our lives and utilise the way in which our brain works. This inspirational, entertaining and thought provoking session will train you, from a dog's point of view.

2016 Verbal Workshops

Claiming an identity they taugh us to despise

Caroline Hearst
Presentation slides (PDF, 524KB)

Autism is highly stigmatised, many autistic people refuse to acknowledge their autism to others and sometimes even to themselves. However, for me personally, and many autistic people I know claiming and exploring our identities as autistic people has been life enhancing, and even some would say, liberating.

This workshop will examine what it means to discover that part of your identity which was always there has, or perhaps suddenly acquires, a stigmatised term attached to it. The context of autism in society at large and how that has affected those of us who choose to name autism as part of our identity will be explored. We will look at how we can go on to develop a positive pro-active indentity as a community despite autisms contested status is the larger community.

This lecture will give a broad overview, complete with images, demonstrations and anecdotes, of the history of autistic space as it emerged online and branched out into a "real word" social movement from there.

Identifying with autism in film and television

Hannah Ebben
My talk presents various ways in which characters in film and television have been identified as autistic. Ever since the 1960's, there have been several visual representations of Autistic people in popular culture that have contributed to the public profile of 'autism', but not always in a way that has enriched the lives of Autistic people themselves. Almost all Autistic characters are played by neurotypical actors, and some famous films brought unfortunate stereotypes to a wider public. In a lecture, I will discuss how film characters have been identified as Autistic in a few historical examples. I will also address the disadvantages of research on cultural representations of autism that focuses on the question whether Autistic characters are true to 'reality' or not. After the lecture, I will lead a discussion based on the questions which representations are harmful and how film and television could empower Autistic people instead.

Can a mindfulness practice help relieve everyday stress in a neuro diverse population?

Kay Locke
Mindfulness is very fashionable in the media and within psychological and mental health services. A mindfulness practice may help to reduce symptoms of stress in everyday life, and be a valuable addition to pharmacological treatment. We know people within the neuro diverse population have a higher vulnerability to stress, anxiety and depression simply by taking part in everyday life. How can we access mindfulness in a useful and meaningful way? In mindfulness based cognitive therapy we are encouraged to notice physical sensation, thoughts and emotions as they naturally arise. Alexithemyia or difficulty identifying emotions and those of others is often part of our identity. Do we have a richer physical reaction to everyday life? Is this key to our identity and communication style? If so can we build this into a mindfulness practice?

2016 Hands-on/Practical Workshops

Exploring Autistic Identity through performance

Olivia Astrid Pountney
With the demands that are often expected from us in a Neurotypically led society, we often suppress a lot of our autistic behaviours, in order to meet a lot of expectations. This can sometimes come at an expense to our own well-being and self-esteem. With this workshop, we are aiming to get back in touch with our true selves though drama, and for a short period of time, to remove "our masks". Through warm up exercises, playing team based games and improvisation activities, I aim to take you all on journey of self discovery in a relaxed, fun, none judgemental space. I believe expression within the arts can be a great way of liberating ourselves from the stresses of our word and aid us in feeling more conformable within our autistic selves.