2020 Presenters' Bios

This page about Autscape 2020 is of historical interest only. Go to the home page for current information.

Caroline Hearst

Presenting: A vision of autistic community

Caroline Hearst qualified as an art-psychotherapist and worked in a variety of roles including librarian, trade union recruiter, and adult educator before discovering that she is autistic. She currently works as an autism trainer and consultant specialising in providing training for psychotherapists and counsellors. Caroline founded and is a director of AutAngel, a community interest company run by and for autistic adults. She is embraces the idea of neurodiversity and believes that autistic community and connection can make autistic lives more fulfilling.

Christopher Whelan

Presenting: Organising Neurodivergent Self-Advocacy in Remote Communities

Christopher Whelan is an autistic social worker living and working in his home community of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada. In 2013 he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, and in 2017 he graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary.
In July 2019 Christopher founded Neurodiversity YMM as a sharing circle and self-advocacy committee for neurodivergent self-advocates in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

Daisy Everett

Presenting: How to be a Giggling Babel Fish - how can we help NTs understand us?

Daisy Everett performs informative stand-up comedy and presentations on what it’s like to be autistic. She acted at the National Theatre, has an A* in Drama A Level performance and used these skills to start Giggling Babel Fish after performing at a Christmas party. She has performed for CPD days, conferences for Charities and Universities and most recently to 100 Senior nurses for the NHS Executive. They invited her to be part of a programme to promote people with lived experience working with the NHS. She has also become involved in developing the Sunflower Lanyard Scheme in the NHS.

Fergus Murray

Presenting: Making education work for the next generation of neurodivergent pupils

Fergus is an autistic science teacher. They are part of the Learning About Neurodiversity at School project (LEANS) at the University of Edinburgh, co-founder of the Autistic Mutual Aid Society Edinburgh (AMASE) and a member of a Scottish Government working group on autism in teacher education.
When not wrapped up in autism things, Fergus takes a lot of photos, writes miscellaneous non-fiction, and occasionally makes tiny sculptures, giant puppets and web toys often based on science and maths.

Jax Bayne & Rakshita Shekhar

Presenting: Autistic sociocultural immunity challenges neurotypical perceptions of reality

Rakshita is a teacher advocate of autistic students in India. She feels happiest when autistic children find happiness in their school and can access learning in their most preferred way. She is the mother of a toddler and loves to remind herself to "Live and Let live".
Jax is an aspirant neuropsychology meta analyst and bhakti yoga practitioner. Their primary interests lie in the discussion and treatment of developmental trauma, peaceful sociocultural revolution, and learning how to become the change they wish to see in the world.

John-James Laidlow

Presenting: The Neurotypical Gaze

John-James is an autistic video essayist and filmmaker. He studied a masters in Digital Documentary at University of Sussex. John-James is queer and multiply disabled and this has led to an interest into disability representation as well as issues around identity.

Ketan R Parmar

Presenting: Visual sensory sensitivity: experiences from an autistic adult viewpoint

Ketan is a PhD student at The University of Manchester and fully qualified Optometrist by profession. He graduated from Manchester with a Master’s degree in Optometry in 2018, having completed his placement year in two independent practices whilst also conducting a research project. He is currently in the second year of his PhD which is investigating links between autism and vision, focused on the autistic adult population.
Alongside his current research role, he practises as a locum Optometrist, supervises undergraduate student labs and is a sessional Optometrist at Eurolens Research.

Laura Sommer

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

Being from and living in Heidelberg, Germany, Laura Sommer first attended Autscape in August 2018. This is their first talk at an autistic event. They are 32 and currently recovering from burnout. Their special interests include but are not limited to: Autistic self-advocacy, Beatles, biblical stuff, Christmas, Doctor Who, history, leftist/liberation theology, memes, music, pop culture, queer theory and theology, and Sherlock Holmes.

Leo Capella

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

Leo Capella is a veteran campaigner who has won awards both as a volunteer and as a professional. He holds a BA in Politics and has worked at the National Autistic Society and Disability Rights UK as well as volunteering for a number of different charities including Ambitious about Autism. In his day job he works as a coach for the National Autistic Society’s Employment and Enterprise team but is speaking in his own personal capacity. His hobbies include writing poetry, online gaming and walking his stubborn yet sweet Turkish street dog.

Mary Doherty

Presenting: Autistic Adults and Psychiatry: experiences and barriers to access

Dr Mary Doherty is an autistic consultant anaesthetist who is currently researching barriers to healthcare for autistic adults and the experiences of autistic adults using mental health services. She is a member of an autism working group with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and advises various medical institutions on autism. Her interests include reframing the tragedy narrative around autism in healthcare, improving the healthcare experience for the autistic community and more recently the presentation of autism in medical doctors. She is founder of the peer support and advocacy group “Autistic Doctors International”.

Oliver Devins

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

Oliver is an autistic transgender young person who has spent the last three years researching and advocating online for autistic community issues. He runs the Wattpad page EpicAutistic where he writes about his personal experiences and community issues, as well as shares relatable memes about the autistic experience to counteract negative ones. He is extremely familiar with concepts of autistic space, neurodiversity, intersectionality, and the social model of disability. He has presented at Writopia Lab's Youth Essay Writing Conference, where he presented a piece on his transgender (at the time non-binary) identity.

Spencer Hunley

Presenting: Internet Memes As AAC: Utilizing Web Culture to Improve Accessibility

Spencer Hunley is an autistic professional based in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. He previously led the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network's Kansas City Chapter and is a current founding member of the Greater Kansas City Autism Coalition.
His fascination with assistive technology began with his work at the UMKC Institute for Human Development, leading an initiative to use Linux-based operating systems on netbooks to decrease cost and maximize accessibility.
In his spare time, he assists in production of a small podcast called Neurologic about autism, autistic advocacy and self-advocacy, issues of importance to the autistic community, and more.

Tim Rhys

Presenting: Touch Blue Touch Yellow (stage play)

My autistic son Morgan inspired Touch Blue Touch Yellow. I've also written Quiet Hands (performed at Autscape 2018), a feature film 'Crow' (based on my play Stone The Crows) and an award-winning short film 'Half Life', plus numerous other stage and radio plays. I have also written two interactive web serials, 'Crazy World', for the British Council. I lecture in playwriting and scriptwriting at Cardiff University.

Vivian Ly

Presenting: Collective Community Care: Dreaming of Futures in Autistic Mutual Aid

Vivian Ly is an Autistic, disabled, queer, racialized settler who dreams of a world where no one is left behind. A co-founder of Autistics United Canada, Vivian is part of an Autistic collective that facilitates workshops, hosts community events, maintains a mobile neurodiversity library, and engages in policy advocacy at the local, provincial, and national level. Vivian studies neuroscience and conducts research at Simon Fraser University, while creating campus-wide change with the Disability and Neurodiversity Alliance. Vivian's work on unceded Coast Salish territory focuses on disability justice, collective community care, and Autistic-led policy and research.


Presenting: Envisaging the future of autistic activism

Yo is a legal and autism trainer and consultant based in the UK. She develops and delivers training on legal and autism topics for local government staff (mainly social workers). She is autistic and a parent of autistic children. Yo is currently strategic lead of the National Autistic Taskforce, led the development and publication of ‘An independent guide to quality care for autistic people’ and is a member of the strategic oversight group for the mandatory autism training trial in England.