2018 Presentations

Small changes to this list of presentations for Autscape 2018 are still possible. Updated: 14th June 2018

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2018 Performance

"Quiet Hands": Challenging Stereotypes & Raising Awareness Through Theatre

Tim Rhys
This consists of a 60-minute stage play ‘Quiet Hands’ and an after-show Q and A discussion of the themes of the play.
The play explores two issues: sibling relationships & autism and mate crime & autism. It has 3 actors and is written to be performed on a bare stage with very minimal lighting and sound. The autistic main character (played by autistic actor Joshua Manfield) is targeted by a manipulative predatory couple who befriend him with the desire to defraud and rob him. It has an optimistic positive ending but goes to dark places before getting there. The aim of the play is to raise awareness and discussion about the under-reported problem of ‘mate crime’. It premiered for a week at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. We have also been invited to perform the play at the National Assembly for Wales, to raise discussion among Assembly Members

2018 Lectures

Working under the influence of autism

Catherine Curtis
As an autistic person, getting a paid job can be particularly tough. You’ve got through the application sorting and battled through the interview assault course to dazzle the employer to win that coveted job – then what?
The Equality Act 2010 states that employers have a duty to make sure workers with disabilities, such as autism, aren't substantially disadvantaged so they must put in place reasonable adjustments.
This lecture looks at how employers can get it wrong with reasonable adjustments by them only focusing on the autistic person’s immediate environment. Through embracing excellent information governance, good workplace and workforce management, a culture can be created that supports the autistic person's needs and simultaneously increases efficiency and productivity for all employees. Whilst reasonable adjustments remain indispensable, workplaces should be individually accommodating so that they do more than the minimum where they value the contribution that everyone can bring.

The inclusion of autistic needs in the pursuit of holistic health

Dr Claire Evans-Williams and Dr Damien J. Williams
Mental health difficulties can pose an additional challenge for autistic adults. Services may be available and accessible, but they are often developed for neurotypical individuals and are therefore not appropriate for the needs of autistic adults. While the health service is under extreme political and economic pressures, this is insufficient justification for overlooking the needs/rights of autistic people. To remedy the current, top-down, professional-led approach, we have developed an inclusive, bottom-up, needs-driven approach to support the mental health of autistic adults– the autistic hierarchy of needs.
In this “lecture” we will work through each of the six levels of the hierarchy, providing real-world illustrations from clinical practice. We believe the hierarchy provides a flexible approach to supporting autistic adults achieve the life they deserve through a focus on their own values. We will encourage the audience to reflect on how this hierarchy relates to their values, health, and life.

Separate development paths - way to mutual understanding and social inclusion

Joanna Ławicka
As a person with Asperger's syndrome and dr. social sciences I explore the heart of development people on spectrum. In my speech I want to convey the results of many years of analysis that led to the development of innovative approaches to the support of people with autism.
The basis is the concept of a separate development paths, developed by me and my team. This concept shows that development in the spectrum is not a disturbed typical development. It is a completely separate development option. This entails a lot of consequences. It is important it is to understand this specificity for better social adaptation, also for people who belong to additional minority groups. In addition, it allows effective support, especially during childhood, but not only. In adulthood it allows to significantly reduce the risk of secondary emotional problems, life crises and serious limitations in social functioning.

The elephant in the room

Nat Titman
My talk will look at the dichotomy of seeing autism as a set of traits vs whole.
It will start by looking at childhood and the ‘elephant in the room’ aspect of autism, where adults use any other explanation, like being a gifted child or having sensory sensitivities, before ever mentioning ‘the elephant’.
I’ll make an analogy based on the fable of the experts each only able to examine one part of a huge elephant. If they only have the tail, it’s a rope, the tusks are a spear, the ears a fan, the leg a tree trunk and so on. Each expert has a specialism in one part of the elephant, but none of them are delivering a diagnosis of ‘elephant’ because they never meet to compare notes.
Next I’ll explore how single trait labels affect how we’re helped or hindered prediagnosis. How we’re seen and we see ourselves.

Autism and Interpersonal Ethics: Who can we blame when things don’t go well?

Ken Richman
This session is about autism and moral responsibility. Everyone wants to be respected as a responsible person. We also want to be excused from blame when something gets in the way of our understanding or doing the right thing. Some philosophers argue that autistic people should not be held responsible for their actions because autism keeps them from understanding ethics. Why do they exclude autists from the moral community? What are the implications for interpersonal interactions within and beyond the community of autists?
A 30-40-minute lecture about philosophy and moral responsibility will show how ideas from enlightenment philosophers have been combined with popular theories of autism to generate problematic conclusions. The lecture concludes by sketching a more autism-friendly, inclusive approach.
The session will end with structured discussion. Participants will be invited to share personal experiences of and preferences for being held responsible or being excused for behavior.

Exploring the Art of Stimming

Maqqi Mucoi Amolngatti Âû
Stimming is something we all know about, yet which has received little serious analysis to categorise stim types, purposes and potential.
Autistic stims are perhaps the best example of the characteristic Autistic capacity to self-teach skills, and they show a surprising degree of similarity around the world.
There is something fundamental and universal happening here, and it is something we need to explore and understand better.
I will discuss stimming in terms of form, function and context with a view to better understanding what we're doing and why, and how we can perhaps develop a fuller 'theory of stim'. This will include my concept of the 'stimming metronome' and the value of patterning the environment.
My objective is to discuss some results of my analysis to date and some thoughts on their significance. I intend to include 10-20 minutes after for discussion and experimentation. And stims!

Formal diagnosis

This presentation will explore the role of formal/professional diagnosis in identifying autistic people. It will include a discussion of the diagnostic criteria, with particular focus on recent and upcoming changes in the main diagnostic manuals (DSM and ICD) such as the inclusion of sensory processing differences and the loss of Asperger’s as a separate diagnosis. How do these changes affect autistic people? Are the criteria inclusive enough? Are they too inclusive? Is anything important missing?
This presentation will also touch on the methods and tools used to diagnose autism.

2018 Verbal Workshops

Why do we disappear as we grow older?

Cos Michael
We hear a lot about autism in youth, but interest in our lives declines as we grow older. We rarely see elderly autistic people represented in drama or literature. ‘Adulthood’ research nearly always has a cut off point of under 40 years, so almost nothing is known about how we live in mid to late adulthood. Few appropriate services exist for us in elderly supported living, clinical settings for ageing related ailments, or in society. We disappear from every radar.
I propose a short presentation, outlining some of the issues we face as we age, followed by a discussion about what we know and what we would like to know; and how to plan for the future.
None of us is an expert, but some of us have experience, personally, professionally and through relationships with others. The aim of this workshop is to share.

Exclusive inclusion, what divides our communities?

Larry Arnold
Inclusion has been the goal of disability activism for some time, and it is something different from mere integration, as it aims to include people at the level of need they require in education, social settings, shops, and the workplace.
For all of that, various disability groups have created cleavages, where they cleave together around some common impairment or condition. Autistic groups have existed for over two decades now, and events such as Autscape have been created as autistic space.
But how inclusive are autistic groups? What are the problems associated with them and what are they excluding?
I aim to create discussion around some of the ways we might not be working effectively together, or effectively with other groups. I want to examine the possible ways that we are dividing amongst ourselves based on other categories than our autism.

Negotiating Terms for Inclusion

John Binns
I want to question the concept of inclusion, in particular the implication that one party or group (perhaps of lesser size or with less power) might necessarily want to be included in the activities of another (perhaps larger or more powerful). I think this risks neglecting the importance of the terms on which that joint activity takes place, which may in effect be dictated by the more powerful party. This is important in various contexts - legal, political, professional and social - and raises questions for autistic people about how we negotiate the terms on which we are included (or on which we include others), and the importance of starting with a clear idea of what we want to achieve when we talk about inclusion.

Untangling the knots of neuroqueer intersectionality

Olivia Pountney
Navigating Autistic spaces as part of a sexual and gender minority (and visa versa) can at times be a strange and alienating experience especially if someone is exploring parts of their identity later on in life or doesn't fit "ticking box" norms of acceptable alternative identities. This isn't helped by the complexity of social unwritten rules and desirability politics from within both the LGBTQ and (ironically) the autistic communities.
The current discourse within autistic territory largely focuses on a prevalence of autistic people who are likely to identity as LGBT but not so much on how best to include them within our own communities. By applying Queer theory and the concept of autistic space, the presentation will be looking at ways to build bridges with the two communities (both physical and online) and create more diverse and inclusive platforms from the perspective of belonging to both.

The acceptance/inclusion of non-autistics by autistic groups

Serena Hasselblad
To us autistics it is of great importance to feel included and to play a part in society, like everybody else.
In order to strengthen our identity and self-awareness we form autistic groups where we together explore autism. We also form working groups or companies with only autistic people.
If we are not aware we might do to others, what we strongly dislike ourselves; exclude them who are different, from us, that is the non-autistics.
I want to show important risk-factors and together with the audience explore both the upsides of an all autistic working group and the benefits to cooperate with people with non-autistic brains.
The aim of this workshop is to straighten out our own mindset about how to include and how to avoid exclusion.

Overtone chanting for self-soothing and sensory seeking

Ysabel Clare
This workshop proposes that overtone chanting activates and tones the vagus nerve, which connects the gut and the brain stem and directly manages stress. We will try this out so you can discover how it might work for you.
The workshop begins with the oldest exercise sequence in the world, the ‘Eight Fine Treasures’. These ancient exercises activate sensory awareness, deepen the breath and settle us down. We move on to hum and vocalize, quickly progressing to chanting simple sound sequences that indirectly create the extraordinary bell-like overtones.
We will spend time chanting, finding a rhythm of breath, and enjoying the vibrations and sensations that arise in the body. For sensory seekers such as myself this can be intensely and sometimes hilariously pleasurable.
Any spontaneous responses, physical or vocal, are welcomed. These exercises can provoke stimming, which can be incorporated privately or shared and experimented with in the group.