Autistic needs

Any group gathering of this size will be difficult for most autistic people. Although we have done our best to cater to autistic needs, it is impossible to make it perfect for every (or any) participant. There remain some things many people may find challenging, but if you are prepared, there are things you can do to make it easier for yourself and help ensure it all goes well for everyone.

Catering for Autistic Needs Foremost

We have taken autistic needs into consideration in the design and running of Autscape. Of course there's no way we could anticipate, let alone accommodate, every need of every autistic person. Some autistic needs aren't even compatible! We know there will still be challenges for most participants, but we've done our best to be a more autistic friendly environment than you would expect to find at a typical conference.

We are doing our best within the constraints of our knowledge, energy and resources. It is important to remember that nearly everyone at Autscape, including presenters and organisers, is also autistic. They may be struggling to cope just as much as you.

Social Interaction

A lot of people are, understandably, quite concerned about the heavy social demands of being in a large group for several days. There is no requirement to socialise at all, and there will be no implicit or explicit disapproval of those who choose not to interact with others. There is coloured badge system for indicating whether you would like to socialise or not.

No initiationRedPlease do not initiate any interaction with me.
Prior PermissionYellowPlease do not initiate unless I have already given you permission to approach me on a yellow badge.
Please initiateGreenI would like to socialise, but I have difficulty initiating. Please initiate with me.
NeutralWhite (or no badge)I am able to regulate my own interaction.
black circle People who do not wish to be in any photographs or video may wear a black circle.

Important: It is not necessary to use any badge at all. If you are okay with approaching others, and with others approaching you (even if you do not wish to interact, but are comfortable saying so), then there is no need to use a coloured badge. If green is used as a default for everyone who wishes to interact, whether they can initiate or not, then it is less meaningful for those who have difficulty initiating and rely on others to approach them.

It is very important that everyone respect the coloured interaction badges and black circles.

Sensory Issues

Sensory issues, and mechanisms to reduce them, are totally acceptable. No one will think it odd if you wear tinted glasses, ear-plugs, headphones, or whatever you may require. Unfortunately, the venue does have some fluorescent lighting, but we will do our best to reduce exposure.

Autistic Behaviour

Stimming (repetitive movements), echolalia, distractibility, different or impaired conversation skills, avoidance of eye contact, perseveration (obsessiveness), are expected and accepted as part of an autistic conference. Appearing (or, indeed, being) completely NT is also perfectly acceptable.

Food Service

Most special diets can be catered for. Make sure you register early so that caterers can prepare suitable menus in good time.

Meals are served cafeteria-style, in a communal dining hall. That part is not very autistic friendly. Some of us find full, loud and/or echo-y dining halls too difficult.

So, some years, we are able to arrange an additional quiet dining room where you can take your meal after collecting it, where acoustics are good and it is not allowed to talk out loud. Other years, we may arrange with the venue that once you have your meal you may take it to your room or out to the garden. It depends on what this year's venue will let us do.

Getting Away

There will be a designated quiet room where you can go to relax and 'chill out' if things are getting too much. The venue has grounds you can walk around in. It is okay to leave anytime during a presentation as long as you do your best not to be disruptive.