Saturday, February 28, 2009

Autscape 2009 Call for proposals

We wish to explore these key concepts of autistic being in many different fashions. This can be through formal presentations or workshops, and may be theoretical or practical. Many different types of input are welcome: traditional lectures, creative expression, physical activity, interactive workshops and more.

____ Audience _________________________________________________

Although we welcome non-autistic professionals and family members, the aim of this event is primarily for autistic people, not about us!

Workshops geared towards parents and professionals may be accepted, but must be positive in their support for autistic people and their right to be different.

____ Examples _________________________________________________

For some examples of what has been presented at Autscape in the past, see last year's presentations at:

We are also likely to enjoy similar workshops to those that have been presented at Autreat, in the USA. See:

____ Non-verbal workshops _____________________________________

Although many of the autistic people who are attracted to an event such as Autscape are highly verbal, others may have difficulty with an event so centered around language. However, we want to welcome and fully include all kinds of autistic people, including less 'wordy' ones. We are also seeking workshops which are not primarily focused on the spoken word. (Presenters may still use speech; it is just not the main content of this type of workshop.) Examples: dance, relaxation, music, art, construction of some kind. These workshops are different from casual leisure sessions in that they have more structure, preparation (from the presenter), relevance to autism and the event's theme, and duration.

____ A few notes of caution ___________________________________

* Cures:

Workshops about curing or preventing autism are likely not to go over well at all and are best avoided altogether, unless it is from an advocacy standpoint.

* Problems:

The problems of non-autistics coping with autistic people could inadvertently reinforce negative attitudes.

* Personal Experience:

We all have personal experience of autism. If your presentation is primarily based on your personal experience, think carefully about its relevance here; the story needs to be one which can help attendees to find new understanding of their own situation. Please let us know what you're hoping those present will gain from your presentation.

* Suitability:

Every workshop, no matter who it is targeted towards, should be suitable for autistic people to attend without feeling objectified or put down.

____ What do we expect from you? ______________________________

* Attendance:

If you submit a proposal, we do expect you to be there! Please be prepared to attend Autscape and give your presentation on the day and time scheduled. If you choose not to attend Autscape for the whole 3 days we will do our best to fit the schedule around your needs.

Travel is the responsibility of each individual presenter. We cannot subsidise travel or off-site expenses for anyone. If your proposal is accepted, we will send you a formal letter of invitation if this will help you to secure your own funding.

* Discussion groups:

Presenters may be expected to run an evening or afternoon discussion group on their topic, for those who would like to explore the issue further. If you may have problems with this, we will try to find a volunteer to help you.

* An article:

We would like an article about your presentation for inclusion in a proceedings booklet to be prepared and printed at a later date. This booklet will be sold to raise funds for Autscape.

* Presentation materials:

Please send copies of any handouts and computer presentations (e.g.

powerpoint) ahead of time. These will be made available for download by Autscape participants and printing for those who require it.

* Archive:

We would like to include your presentation summary, biography and any electronic handouts you provided in our website's archive area.

* Recording:

Please allow us to video or otherwise record your presentation. These records may be made available to others by Autscape. If you submit a proposal we will assume you are happy with these expectations. If you have any questions or objections, please let us know so we can discuss it.

____ What can you expect from us? _____________________________

* Attendance:

Presenters will be accommodated on-site for the day of their presentation including the night before or after. Only one place can be subsidised for each presentation, regardless of the number of presenters. Unfortunately, due to the funding situation we cannot offer free attendance at all of Autscape this year.

* Participation:

Whenever you are not presenting you can enjoy the event, including other workshops and the setting, just as any other participant.

* Involvement:

One thing you can expect by joining us is the opportunity to shape an emerging self-advocacy event and autistic community. There will be opportunities at the event to get involved in the future of Autscape.

* Audience:

A rare opportunity to be heard by a significant number of autistic people. A chance to have some influence and get some feedback from the people who matter most in the field of autism.

____ How to submit your proposal ______________________________

To submit your proposal, please use one of the following:

* online form:

* e-mail:

* or post to: Autscape, 4 Falcon Street, London, E13 8DE, UK

All proposals must be received by 1 May 2009.

Please include the following information.


a. Name

b. Country

c. At least one of:

o e-mail address (preferred)

o phone number

o postal address

d. Experience (A summary of your relevant experience, including

any presentations or other education/advocacy activities

elsewhere, and the nature of your interest in autism and/or in

general disability issues.)


a. Your name or alias (for public use)

b. Biography (50-150 words)

c. Presentation title (1-12 words)

d. Summary (100-200 words)


a. Type of session (choose one)

o Lecture (audience mostly listens)

o Workshop (audience participates verbally)

o Hands-On (audience participate physically)

o Other (please describe)

b. How does your presentation relate to this year's theme

'Effective Living'?

c. Please describe your presentation or activity for the decision makers.

4. Other comments not addressed above


Monday, February 23, 2009

More Violence against defenceless Autistics

Yet another story of school/police overreaction is being reported on the autism hub.

I am talking about the 14 year old child tazed unconsicous at school.

I think this bears multi level analysis to determine just what is going wrong.

Firstly I think there is a kind of legal paranoia, passing the buck, where teachers are so scared of adverse litigation if they have any physical contact with a child at all, especially in a violent and heated situation, that whether or not they would be capable of handling the situation they would sooner call the cops and wash their hands.

Secondly there maybe increasing paranoia about becoming a victim of violence, and let us face it teachers do face that threat more than they used to. That paranoia has driven the zero tolerance policies, where anything becomes a call the cops situation.

However there is more to said as the failings are not in any one person or institution.

This is an endemic institutional fear to begin with, driven by sociological issues that can be addressed in much better ways.

Not only do schools need to have clear policies regarding what is acceptable and what is not, they need training to understand developmental psychology at it’s most basic level, never mind jurisprudential questions about responsibility and mens rea.

At the “chalkface” the teacher needs to be trained in non aggressive intervention, in de-escalation techniques, and above all to have a degree of experience, tolerance, and lets face it “theory of mind” and if the cops are going to be called, then they need an equal degree of training and awareness to handle such situations, they need to realise that in such cases it is a child protection issue, not a preserve oneself against bruises at all cost and help the school to save face issue. If the firefighters adopted such an attitude of fear and paranoia over their own safety they would never enter a burning building. Risk is part of the job, and minor injuries are no more than that.

Furthermore don’t anyone come over self righteous and try and tell me that I have no idea of what the cops might be thinking or what they are faced with in potentially violent and dangerous situations, many years ago I was beaten to the ground by a gang of bikers, who turned their pool cues onto me. My crime in their eyes was having a go at them for kicking a defenceless guy on the ground. I had no taser, but I just did what every citizen ought to and suffered the consequences.

And yes I have been the "berserker" on the other side of the equation too, but I have managed not to kill or injure anyone yet. I have merely lived in more fortunate and tolerant times.