2017 Presentations

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2017 Lectures

Autism and psychosis: what may be the role of social interactions?

Presenter:
Dr. Louise Beattie
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Description:
Psychosis is typically defined as a difficulty with reality-checking, and autism and psychosis frequently co-occur. ‘Atypical’ psychosis has been recently reported to be more common in those with autism, and this may be defined as a pronounced change in personality or alterations in functioning.
Autism and psychosis additionally share phenomenological similarities: they are both linked to difficulties in understanding others (and may share sensory processing alterations as well). Shared issues may be in social network size, loneliness, social behaviours, and social skills difficulties; stigma and discrimination likely exacerbate these and contribute towards experienced distress.
We aim to discuss the interactions of psychosis and autism, summarising the literature about what is known regarding social interactions in both, and present a new model which we have developed for discussion.

Being autistic in a non autistic world: politics and performativity of passing

Presenter:
Daniel Bendelman
Description:
I propose to present a paper on the politics of what it means for us as both the collective autism community, and also for each individual on the spectrum, to pass within a NT world.
Drawing on both scholars of Disability critical theory, post modern thinkers such as Michel Foucault and prolific scholars on the spectrum, it will be my aim to give a broad understanding for a both a layman audience and academics in the audience, a critical reading of the impact of what passing might have within a sociopolitical context for both ourselves and NTs.
In doing so I hope that the lecture will both serve to empower and offer new ways of thinking about our every day involvement in the NT world.

Finding a better approach to autism fiction... and using fantasy to get there

Presenter:
David Hartley
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Description:
Representations of autism in works of fiction continue to be problematic. Autistic characters are still too often cliched, simplified or placed in narratives just to act as tragic metaphors for their neurotypical counterparts. It's hard to find well-rounded autistic characters who have agency in a story and show the full depth and complexity of the condition.
I am writing a contemporary fantasy novel which tries to approach autism in a whole new way. I'm using the tricks and freedoms of the fantasy genre to help avoid the lure of cliches and to give autism a fresh representation which incorporates as wide a range of experiences as possible.
My talk will be a unique insight into a work-in-progress as I attempt to chart some of the challenges I have faced and the ways I'm using fantasy, "the literature of subversion", to defeat them...

Pick a side: the dilemma of being an autistic parent

Presenter:
Martijn Dekker
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Description:
For decades two activist camps have been frequently opposite and opposed: parents of autistic children and autistic people. Those who are both autistic and a parent find themselves at a rather awkward intersection, not fitting in well with either or even rejected by both.
This lecture is an attempt to reach out. It will describe our experience and challenges and summarise coping strategies and solutions, drawing from the life experience of several different autistic parents. The dual aim is on the one hand to increase understanding between autistic people and parents, and on the other to raise awareness of the position of those who are both.

The other half

Presenter:
Yo
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Description:
In this presentation I will set out key issues in current law and policy (primarily in England, but with some pan-European content) on Mental Capacity, Deprivation of Liberty, Guardianship, Adult Safeguarding and "Challenging Behaviour". These issues affect substantial numbers of Autistic adults, primarily those who are less verbal and who may also have an Intellectual Disability. That population is not well represented amongst those who attend Autscape and their voice is rarely heard within Autistic communities. As a result, these issues are all too often excluded from discussion of "Autism policy", when, in fact, they massively affect the autonomy, liberty and rights of large number of Autistic adults.
I will passionately argue that Autistic adults who are not ourselves affected by these issues should, nevertheless, educate ourselves and become involved in advocacy and campaigning work around these issues.

Thinking about autism in a historical context in our neoliberal times

Presenter:
Hannah Ebben
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Description:
The term ‘autism’ has meant different things for different people throughout history, ever since it was formulated for the first time by therapists. Even though it has functioned to give people the help they need, it also has a legacy of institutionalised and normalised everyday violence against Disabled people; think of the ‘refrigerator theory’ and the Lovaas method with its ‘punishments’. Even though the autism rights moment and the principle of neurodiversity have offered alternatives, I am interested in traces of the past in the present. In my talk, I will talk about how I think about the past and the changeability of the term ‘autism’ with a link to the oppression of Autistic people in contemporary neoliberalism. This stands for the assessment of human value on the basis of economical worth. I then would like to discuss how we could resist the historical and neoliberal context of autism.

2017 Verbal Workshops

Are you high- or low-functioning? Who says, and does it matter?

Presenter:
John Binns
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Description:
Clinicians and others use 'functioning' labels to describe how well they think autistic people function in everyday (neurotypical) life, but this reflects a value judgement, and neglects context. This workshop explores what those value judgements are about and how context can have an effect, for instance for someone who functions well at home but less so at work (or vice versa). It is an opportunity to explore how such labels might be effectively repurposed so as to reflect the reality of autistic people's experience and needs, including what 'functioning' might mean from the subjective point of view of the autistic person him- or herself, and the reasons why autistic people can function better (to their own satisfaction) in some environments than others.

Autistic identity and initiatives in four European countries

Presenter:
Heta Pukki
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Description:
This workshop will introduce current issues that are central to autistic communities in four European countries: Finland, Sweden, Estonia and the Czech Republic. Autistic activists from each country have been interviewed about their views regarding autistic people’s needs, the advocacy they are currently engaged in, and their perceptions of autistic identity.
One uniting theme for these countries is concern for autistic adults’ employment situations and financial survival. This theme has been approached in a variety of ways. An ongoing service programme, a survey study, a public campaign, a recently completed project and an initiative to start a new project will be discussed.
Many English-language sources give an impression of talking about a homogeneous, global autistic culture. In the light of the examples, the participants will be invited to question such assumptions, and to discuss potential ways to learn more from initiatives and discourses generated in different cultural contexts.

2017 Hands-on/Practical Workshops

Choral workshop

Presenter:
James Pelham
Description:
An informal rehearsal aimed at autistic adults, but mature teenagers/children would also benefit. A small selection of accessible pieces, e.g. rounds/canons to enjoy, while incorporating some basic vocal techniques to keep interest. Possibility of preparing for a performance in the entertainment event on the last night of Autscape (optional for participants.) Pieces chosen will recognise that the balance of parts may not be constant (i.e. simple 2-part songs will be preferred.) Non-singing observers will be welcome, and no minimum standard will be required.

Humpty Dumpty and the right mask

Presenter:
Lyte
Description:
Mask Making – this workshop will commence with an introductory illustrated presentation (slides, imagery, metaphor and story)* looking at the possibility of ‘hidden’ aspects of ourselves and then bringing them back to life through a hands-on mask-making activity. We will use found materials and some ‘craft’ materials.
This is an opportunity to explore who we may be in different contexts and areas of our lives - which are far more varied and complex than in previous generations. The culture in which we are raised may not be that which we later inhabit and along the way we are likely to encounter many sub-cultures and expectations requiring us to ‘be’ so many ‘personalities’ and adapt to remarkably diverse and often unstable contexts. This can be a tremendous strain on any autistic / neurodivergent person.
Adaptation and challenges to 'habitus' (Bourdieu) can be tough and we like to think we'll survive 'all in one piece'. More often than not, to cope (as all good fairy stories demonstrate) we ‘split’ ourselves in a range of ways and may hive off what we are socialised to believe are our ‘bad parts’ in the process.
This workshop then offers the opportunity to explore some aspect of yourself, and make your own Mask out of materials provided or gathered, to represent this.
As a participants you will be given the opportunity to then move around wearing your mask and responding to others. You are invited to bring some light cloth or shawl to Autscape for this. No prior experience is needed.
*By starting with an ‘introductory presentation’ where themes are first introduced through images and text via slides and verbal narration, and then leading on to a participant-centred, facilitated activity, Lyte creates a safe place for people to explore and express their own responses, whether light-hearted or sombre, using natural and craft materials to make their own piece of work.