2020 Presentations

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Autistic sociocultural immunity challenges neurotypical perceptions of reality

Presenter:
Jax Bayne & Rakshita Shekhar
Description:
Being autistic in predominantly neurotypical societies can be quite challenging. However, due to neurodevelopmental divergences, the autistic sense of self is not linked to social status like for most neurotypicals. Therefore, autistics are more aware of the arbitrariness of sociocultural constructs and the subjectivity of reality paradigms. When neurotypicals interact with autistics, they are forced to reevaluate the belief that an individual’s worth is based upon external factors like societal standing. This cognitive dissonance can feel like a direct attack on their personal identity as it is dependent upon the legitimacy of their current paradigm.
The questions explored in this presentation include: 1) Are neurotypicals aware of the divergent paradigms within their own society but encouraged to invalidate these perspectives because they differ from that of the dominant sociocultural system? 2) Would educating children about neurodivergence preclude many of the difficulties autistics experience attempting to exist in predominantly neurotypical societies?

Autistic Adults and Psychiatry: experiences and barriers to access

Presenter:
Mary Doherty
Download:
Presentation slides
Description:
Autistic adults report high rates of co-occurring mental illness. A survey of autistic adults' experiences of psychiatric health care was conducted at Autscape 2019, which explored experiences of mental well-being and experiences in accessing mental health care. Data from this survey informed my contribution to the recent report on adult autism published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Preliminary data from the survey will be presented, along with an exploration of the collaborative process involved in creating the report and the changes within the psychiatric profession in response to input from us.

"But I could have told you, Vincent": Critical consumption of harmful narratives

Presenter:
Laura Sommer
Download:
Worksheet
Description:
This talk is a critical analysis of harmful narratives in popular culture around the subject of autistic/disabled suicide.
The suicide rate among autistic people is horrifically high and is a shameful testament to an ableist society that keeps failing autistic people in every way imaginable.
This talk focuses on a cultural narrative perpetuated in popular media that suggests that, though it is really tragic when a disabled/autistic person dies, it is actually better for everyone.
I want to examine this narrative in several pop songs and films (making an intersectional link to the so-called “kill your queers” narrative regarding the LGBTQIA+ characters) and talk about the importance of critically consuming what little representation we encounter and not to internalise that dangerous narrative. I also call for a change of narrative in media representation and a switch from lethargy to outrage regarding autistic/disabled suicide.

Collective Community Care: Dreaming of Futures in Autistic Mutual Aid

Presenter:
Vivian Ly
Description:
Increasingly, autistic communities have been exposed to ideas of disability justice, interdependence, access intimacy, collective/community care, and mutual aid. Care collectives, spoon shares, and other community care groups by and for disabled people, racialized people, LGBTQ2IA+ people (and people at this intersection) are growing in number. Is there a future for autistic spaces to also act as spaces of intentional mutual aid?
Moving from a rights-based perspective to a justice-based one necessitates a look at our care systems and re-envisioning how our communities function to ensure no one is left behind.
In this session, we will discuss examples of disability justice collectives and spoon shares that enact mutual aid as a core part of their values and practice. We will evaluate the potential of autistic mutual aid and dream together a future where autistic people creatively meet each other's needs to transform access into liberation.

Envisaging the future of autistic activism

Presenter:
Yo
Download:
1. Mapping handout; 2. Handout with additional detail
Description:
Autistics can find it very difficult to get our voices heard in discussions about public policies which affect autistic people. This lecture will draw on my experiences (including my involvement in the National Autistic Taskforce in the UK) to provide ideas and inspiration on increasing the effectiveness of autistic activism by:
• developing relevant knowledge and expertise
• making ourselves useful and establishing credibility
• effective targeting of opportunities and audiences for influence
As well as focussing on how we might exert influence most effectively, I will also argue that we should prioritise which issues to influence, considering when doing so the importance of human rights issues and issues of particular relevance to autistic people who may be less able to advocate for themselves.

A Future of Autism: Where are the autism communities going in society

Presenter:
Leo Capella
Download:
Presentation slides (updated 27 Jul 2020)
Description:
This presentation will attempt to place the debates and trends that exist around autism and neurodiversity into a wider context. In it I plan to:
- Explore key forces and trends affecting the autism communities and how they relate to ones in wider minority groups.
- Pose some challenges for the future for each of the different communities such as autistic people, parents and professionals
- See what are the dividing lines between communities
- Examine what common challenges the autism communities have to face
- Ask where these trends fit in to wider developments in society socially and politically
- Ask what steps can be taken both by unsuspecting victims (people new to the autism rights scene) and those who are already experienced campaigners to navigate these trends
- In concluding make a general call for context, astuteness and mindfulness leading eventually to a form of strengthened comity instead of total unity

The Future of Autistic Liberation: A Vision of a Healthier Community

Presenter:
Oliver Devins
Description:
The neurodiversity movement has been increasingly visible in the past twenty years. Once considered a fringe and controversial autism advocacy movement, it has gained traction and in some cases misappropriation (e.g. in certain job-hiring contexts, or when used to mean general difference or "weirdness"). This lecture will explore the background and history of the movement and of autism more broadly, discuss our current achievements, obstacles, and in-group divisions, and detail suggestions for further visibility, community inclusiveness, and research application.
What can we do to get our message out to the public in a way that appeals to them? How do we address infighting, gatekeeping, and forms of oppression besides ableism in our communities? How did we get where we are today- and how can we create a vision of positive change and a united community? This talk will address all of these questions – and more.

How to be a Giggling Babel Fish – how can we help NTs understand us?

Presenter:
Daisy Everett
Description:
I have a vision of using the lens of humour and laughter to help the autistic community explain and communicate with the non-autistic world so that they can better understand us and, therefore, we them.
I will be covering our jargon, special interests, perception and other areas of confusion and conflict in the translation of our language making it understandable for NTs.
I use humour to help NTs understand me and to help me to cope when they don’t understand me.
My vision is to empower those attending Autscape and the wider autistic community to help them to know how to translate for NTs and cope when they misunderstand. I will give some suggestions on common communication issues and how I have managed to resolve them.

Internet Memes As AAC: Utilizing Web Culture to Improve Accessibility

Presenter:
Spencer Hunley
Download:
Presentation slides
Description:
Modern technology has brought about significant advances in Augmentative and Alternative Communication through the use of more sophisticated, durable and reliable devices. Such devices, however, are somewhat lacking in both expressing and interpreting emotions, especially complex ones. However, a mainstay of internet culture – memes – provide a solution that is not only quite simple but also widespread, common and easily accessed. This session will define what a meme is and how they work, a brief history of memes, how memes can be used to effectively and succinctly express a wide variety of emotion from simple to complex, and why they should be considered as a useful, inclusive and suitable form of AAC – especially for autistics and autistic culture.

The Neurotypical Gaze

Presenter:
John-James Laidlow
Description:
In 1975 Laura Mulvey coined the term ‘male gaze’ to describe how cinema operates to bring pleasure to men through various forms of looking.
Although it has been challenged over the years for coming from a very white, cisgender and heterosexual lens it still remains a seminal text and changed the way that people thought about cinema.
This video essay will consider the ‘neurotypical gaze’ – that is how we are viewed by neurotypical people, how this partially constructs our identity and how we look back.
I acknowledge various forms of neurodiversity, however I will mostly approach this from an autistic angle as it is one of the lenses I look through (as well as appropriate for this setting).
I will start with screen images (cinema, TV, online video) then go beyond this to consider the act of looking itself.

Making education work for the next generation of neurodivergent pupils

Presenter:
Fergus Murray
Description:
Autistic and otherwise neurodivergent kids don't always thrive in mainstream education, but segregated 'special education' has its own problems. Can we envision what truly inclusive education might look like, and what it would take to get us there?
I will talk about some of the barriers to inclusive education, and the role of neurodivergent adults in making education work for the next generation of neurodivergent pupils.
All children should learn about neurodiversity from teachers who understand it themselves, creating schools that respect different ways of being in the world. I'll describe how the LEANS project (Learning About Neurodiversity at School) seeks to bring this about, and talk about what we can do as neurodivergent adults to help shape the future of education.
The next generation of neurodivergent kids could do so much better, if the education sector can learn the lessons of those who came before them.

Organizing Neurodivergent Self-Advocacy in Remote Communities

Presenter:
Christopher Whelan
Download:
Presentation slides
Description:
If you want to be an autistic self-advocate and take part in the neurodiversity movement, you don't need to live in or near a big city to do that! Self-advocacy is for everyone in any geographic community.
Christopher Whelan, founder and director of Neurodiversity YMM in his remote community of Fort McMurray, Canada, shares guidance and his lessons learned in building a movement for neurodivergent self-advocacy within his own home town.

Touch Blue Touch Yellow (stage play)

Presenter:
Tim Rhys
Description:
Following our production of 'Quiet Hands' in 2018, this live recording of my play 'Touch Blue Touch Yellow' will be made available at a specified time, on You Tube, followed by an online discussion of its themes and ideas.
The play follows a young autistic man leaving him for the first time to begin a new job. It explores the pressures of conformity on one autism family; the autistic protagonist is played by Joshua Manfield who featured in Quiet Hands.
Trigger Warning: 'Touch Blue...' does explore painful subjects, being very critical of ABA and forced conformity in wider society, though the journey ends positively and optimistically.
Reviews of the play here: www.facebook.com/touchbluetouchyellow
Touch Blue Touch Yellow: "A beautiful play that is wonderfully written, accurately portraying a family life with autism. A massive stride in the Autism Awareness campaign." (Amy Finylas, Bridgend NAS)

A vision of autistic community

Presenter:
Caroline Hearst
Description:
The presentation will start with an overview of some of the options available to autistic people seeking community in the UK.
I will put forward the proposal that autistic community is real and vital, however it is not a single thing, rather a textile woven from many threads.
I will discuss the development of AutAngel which is one of those threads. AutAngel is a community interest company (CIC) run by and for autistic people, which started in 2013 and by the beginning of 2020 was running several regular groups and a post-identification programme.
This talk will look at the local community we've grown as well as how we fit into the larger autistic and general communities and the challenges of working in the CIC format. I'll explore how we can reconcile our vision for an autism positive community with the need to deal with existing structures.

Visual sensory sensitivity: experiences from an autistic adult viewpoint

Presenter:
Ketan R Parmar
Download:
Presentation slides
Description:
Although previous research has looked into sensory issues faced by autistic individuals, there has been little focus on visual sensory experiences, especially in adults. Limited research in autistic children, particularly those with learning disabilities, suggests a greater need for glasses and a larger number of eye-coordination problems. Little is known about the same in autistic adults without learning disabilities or their experiences during an eye examination. If an optometrist has a limited understanding about autism, it may result in appointments for autistic people being stressful.
This presentation will discuss the key outcomes of a focus group study, conducted at the University of Manchester. The study explored visual experiences (e.g. hypersensitivity, sensory overload), the impact of these on daily life and associated coping strategies in autistic adults without learning disabilities. We also discussed their experiences of an eye examination.