2021 Presentations

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Adventor: community and service organization under one roof

Presenter:
Mike Roškaňuk [pron. as roshkanewck]
Description:
I would like to present our Czech NGO Adventor o. s. as an example of organization led and run by autistic people, providing opportunities to influence autism related things, to realize meaningful projects, to share time on community trips or organizing events, to get support or to provide support.
Adventor is oriented mainly to autistic teens and adults, provides services as advisory and support, supported employment, psychotherapy, autism awareness via various art. Adventor is in fact built on our concept of “societal inclusion” – forming mixed teams of ND and NT people and orienting rather on strong and weak points of every member than on diagnosis etc. We're also member of a governmental expert group for enhancing life of autistic people, and have a representative in Advisory board.

Autistic learning and development: functional solutions to celebrate

Presenter:
Stiofan Mac Amhalghaidh
Description:
I will discuss how the observation 'Autistics are human' implies that Autistic expressions are utterly normal human solutions to particular obstacles, and the argument 'all humans strive to do their best' suggest those solutions are near-optimally functional.
By focusing on processes - how humans 'grow, develop and learn' - I ask "what experiences lead humans to solutions like this?" This allows often small, subtle, and diverse 'seeds' produce Autistic 'end points' as natural and very human outcomes.
I will discuss how simple processes of convergence and divergence, both chosen and enforced, shape the development of a sense of Self that we recognise as distinctly 'Autistic' for all the diversity that encompasses.
It is an inherently positive and judgement-free perspective that cherishes and celebrates Autistic achievement. It is also a work in progress founded on community endeavours and past research, and open for exploration, critique, discussion and collaborative development.

Collective Blogging: A Space for Autistic Identity, Community & Advocacy

Presenter:
Joana Hermann, Marja-Kristina Akinsha, Cír Dorle
Description:
In the beginning of 2021, we came together as volunteers to create a blog for and by Autistic adults, the first of its kind in Ireland. We would like to showcase how collective blogging enables us to
1) explore our own Autistic identities and individual skill sets by sharing our journeys of self-discovery, personal struggles, achievements, passions, and interests;
2) grow an inclusive Autistic community in Ireland through the collaborative creation and management of the blog, collective art and poetry projects, and networking on social media;
3) and develop a platform for advocacy to address issues related to supports and services, societal attitudes, employment, mental health, education, and more.
To conclude, we would like to encourage other Autistic adults to create similar spaces, share some difficulties and challenges to consider, and outline our ideas for the future of the project.

Documenting how Autistic People Grow, Develop and Learn

Presenter:
Kalen
Download:
Presentation slides (PDF); Values-based progress assessment tool (PDF, fillable)
Description:
Traditional measures of success such as employment and education milestones often don’t work for autistic people, among others. This presentation reports on the development of a new way of documenting goals and progress that is both holistic - it is based on a broad range of quality of life indicators - and adapted for autistic people. It was developed through a participatory research programme with autistic young people who work with SENDCode CIC in Manchester, UK. The presentation will look at the resulting ‘Values-based progress measurement tool’ and how to use it. Participants will be invited to download the tool and try it out for themselves, but this is optional.

Happy to disclose? Lessons from ASSP about sharing autistic identity

Presenter:
Ruth Moyse and Madge Woollard
Description:
Being at Autscape presents the opportunity to be loudly and passionately openly autistic, something that is not always possible in the workplace. This talk will present findings from Phase 1 of the Autistic School Staff Project (ASSP), looking specifically at issues around disclosing autism in school.
A survey completed by 149 autistic school staff, past and present, revealed some had experienced poor reactions and prejudice on disclosing, which had impacted negatively on their wellbeing and ability to stay in the profession. Others shared their reluctance to disclose they were autistic. This resulted from previous experience of stigma, for example, and their witnessing of the derogatory way some colleagues referred to the autistic children and young people in their care.
By contrast, other participants reported encouraging responses. Some parents and pupils appreciated the openness and honesty, whilst colleagues valued their experience and insights. Autistic school staff were seen as positive role models for pupils, and relationships were strengthened. One school established peer and sibling support groups for their autistic pupils and another became more autism-friendly.
A positive response to disclosure led to benefits for the whole school community.

How Sensory Trauma affects how we grow, develop and learn

Presenter:
Autism Wellbeing
Description:
Sensory Trauma is the name Autism Wellbeing has given to a phenomenon that autistic people have long been describing in our words and actions.
The events we experience as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening may not necessarily be the extreme events typically associated with trauma. Sensory Trauma may arise from everyday activities such as taking a shower or going shopping. It can occur frequently and lead to us spending our lives in a state of hypervigilance.
We respond to sensory information in a way that is totally proportionate to our genuine, lived experience. However, our responses may be mislabelled or misunderstood.
The impact of Sensory Trauma is significant. Infants may miss out on regulating, growth-promoting parental input. Toxic stress may modify areas of the brain involved in learning and memory and increase our vulnerability to a range of physical and mental health experiences with poorer outcomes.

Intensifying Connections: some things I’ve learnt about emotions, mine & others

Presenter:
Sonny Hallett
Description:
Is it ever possible to know how others might experience the world? How could we all connect better? How might we find ways to know ourselves more deeply?
The Double Empathy Problem suggests that autistic people might connect more easily with other autistic people, and that non-autistic people might struggle to empathise with us as much as we might feel a disconnect from them. I will explore what non-autistic people might be missing when they try to connect with those who are different, what it’s like learning to connect more with my own emotions and identity, what strengths being autistic might have in making connections, and what it might take to make better empathetic connections across neurotypes.
I will be drawing on my research into autistic people’s mental health and experience of talk therapies, what I’ve learnt through undergoing counselling training, stories from the community, and personal reflections.

Naturally Connected Neurodiversity

Presenter:
Katrine Callander
Description:
I propose a presentation on the academic research project Naturally Connected Neurodiversity. This qualitatively explores the lived experiences of late-identification/diagnosed autistic women and potential positive therapeutic and wellbeing connections with the natural environment.
There has been a tendency towards negating the female autistic experience, resulting in later diagnosis and fewer support structures. A spectrum diagnosis in adulthood can profoundly shift an understanding of historic narrative, which can be both traumatic and liberating. Natural connections – such as wilderness, walking therapy and therapy gardens – can help developing positive coping strategies and insight when reviewing often decades of lived experiences. Environmental anthropology connects with psychology in considering how a growing a natural relationship can have a supporting and restorative influence among other strategies in accepting this shift in personal perception. This project aims to frame the voice of the lived experience of autistic women within research on environmental connections.

Peer mentoring into employment as an opportunity for mutual growth

Presenter:
Marie Van Herteryck
Description:
We run Tool Up peer mentoring programme as a way for autistic mentors and mentees to realise their potential, achieve personal growth and recognition. The programme is based on Damian Milton's research and designed with his participation. The design idea was to develop a programme practically helpful for autistic people. The programme is autistic led and delivered by majority autistic mentors and speakers. The outcome of the programme is a huge increase in confidence and wellbeing of autistic participants as measured by the personal wellbeing index (as well as a third of people getting jobs). The key learnings from the programme, it's evaluation and participants' experiences will be shared.

Self Advocacy and Emerging Art Forms

Presenter:
Saffron Baldoza and Vera Pudilova
Description:
Trends such as globalisation and digitalisation are changing the way we communicate and are creating new opportunities for self advocacy. This has enabled the neurodivergent community to speak up for themselves and their needs in a way that once was not possible.
Our workshop is a crash course in emerging art forms, how to use them in a way that makes an impact, and how to stay safe. We will look at their individual benefits and drawbacks, and share our own self advocacy projects: Vera’s instagram illustrations (documenting her journey to understand her diagnosis and connect with others in the community) while Saffron uses various forms of creative writing to express her own relationship with autism. She will share one of her recent spoken word poems.
Finally, we will guide participants through the process of brainstorming ideas for their own self advocacy - and physically creating a simple zine.

Self-development via engaging with the Autistic community and special interests

Presenter:
Aiden Tsen
Description:
Autistic people often struggle to develop their skills in the traditional settings of education and employment. However, there is great potential for personal and professional growth by engaging with and helping other autistic people, including volunteering, contributing to Autistic publications and harnessing one’s special interests.
In this talk, Aiden Tsen will detail his own experiences of these examples and what he has gained, before talking about skills that other autistic people can gain from similar opportunities and how to find them. He will include resources to find volunteering opportunities working with disabled people, as well as suggesting ideas for other ways to contribute meaningfully to people's lives.
By attending this talk and finding ways to engage with the community, an attendee will be empowered to make friends and develop transferable skills to aid employment if desired. You may even further develop or perhaps find a new special interest!

Struggling for Community - Autistic abandonment experiences in media representation

Presenter:
Laura Sommer
Description:
The US sitcom Community (2009-2015) is very popular in the autistic community. The character of Abed Nadir is regarded as one of the best autistic representations in popular culture. During his research for an autistic character, the show’s creator Dan Harmon realised that he himself is autistic. He therefore managed to write a 3-dimensional character that isn’t reduced to stereotypical autistic traits but goes through painfully realistic experiences.
In this presentation I will summarise selected episodes and show clips that depict common autistic experiences with the struggle to find and keep relationships and the traumatic experience of abandonment. I will also look at the systemic factors, like specific anti-autistic ableism,that make the depicted experiences so relatable and reoccurring.

Supporting (?) Autistic Adults' Intimate Lives

Presenter:
Monique Huysamen
Download:
Presentation slides
Description:
I will present preliminary findings of an online sex-positive study with 20 autistic people about their experiences of sex, intimacy and paying for sexual services. The findings highlight some of the challenges participants encountered navigating romantic and sexual relationships, in a largely heteronormative society that relies on neurotypical sexual scripts and norms. I will also introduce a forthcoming study which will explore autistic people’s experiences of relationships, intimacy, sex and pleasure and gather their perspectives on how, or if, they think autistic people can be better supported to enjoy fulfilling intimate lives. I will explore some critical questions around representation, and how to conduct research that resists rather than reinforces dominant and stigmatised understandings around autism, gender and sexuality.

The neurodiversity paradigm through the years

Presenter:
Martijn Dekker
Download:
Presentation slides
Description:
Did the neurodiversity movement start in 1998, when Judy Singer and Harvey Blume jointly coined the word? Or did it start in 1992, when Autism Network International formed the first autistic community and included other neurodivergent people under the umbrella "autistics and cousins" (ACs)? What did it mean then, what does it mean now, and how is it expected to develop in the future? What can we learn from its history? Are there aspects that we may need to rethink? Are we including everyone who needs to be included? Where do we want it to go from here? By giving a historical overview and discussing the current state of the movement, this presentation will attempt to answer some of these questions and provide necessary context for further discussion.

What I (Don't) Know About Autism

Presenter:
Jody O'Neill
Description:
'What I (Don't) Know About Autism' is a theatrical play, written by Jody O'Neill that premiered in 2020 in co-production with the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
Co-presented by Jody O'Neill and Eleanor Walsh, this presentation will share details of the creation of the play - the inspiration, the development process, and the impact of the production.
It will feature some live readings from the play and we will also share some video clips from the original production.
There will be a Q&A and an opportunity for the audience to share their insights, expectations and hopes for artworks that challenge and shift perspectives about autism.
We are also happy to answer questions about playwriting, performing and relaxed performance.

Where Do We Draw The Line: Advocacy Strategy and Tactics

Presenter:
Spencer Hunley
View:
Presentation slides (Google Docs)
Description:
From the earliest days of forced institution, to awareness, to acceptance, and now to inclusion, our self-advocacy and activism efforts have shaped policy and perception of Autistics for the better. While the past 10-20 years have yielded substantial progress, there is still ample room for more of it, despite significant changes.
But where do we draw the line, engage in specific actions, make the best decisions regarding advocacy and activism?
This workshop will guide attendees regarding online and in-person advocacy tactics, ranging from social media interaction to direct conversation, with an emphasis on strategic tact in all encounters. There will be a lecture to explain definitions, basic tactics and other tools for the workshop portion. This isn't about the ‘right’ response; rather it will focus on critically thinking about the outcome of each response, and how that meets with your and/or your organizations' goals.