Autreat 2013



The Real Ethics of Autism

Alexander Cheezem

Many situations that advocates - and self-advocates - get involved in involve various forms of unethical conduct. Regrettably, the existing discussions of ethics as they apply to autism are generally poor.

This also presents a practical problem, as one of our greatest tools in these situations is the ability to bring detailed ethical criticism to bear. This presentation will focus on professional ethics, surveying the roles and expectations of ethical professionals in the world of autism - and highlight those principles and codes most useful to advocates and self-advocates. Potential applications and use of these documents will be discussed.

Alexander Cheezem is an autistic graduate student in Nova Southeastern University's M.S. General Psychology program. He has over three years' clinical experience working with autistic children and regards dealing with the consequences of unethical conduct to be his least favorite part of the job.

Strategies for controlling and altering one’s own mental state: An advanced course in dealing with sensory issues and environment

Stan P.

Sensory input is linked at a basic level to one's state of mind. Any changes in one's sensory environment or any changes in how a person perceives sensory input has the potential to change that person's state of conscious. While variations in one's state of consciousness are normal and natural, not all sensory input creates a pleasant effect. This talk will focus on methods for intentionally altering one's sensory perception and maintaining control over one's mental state.

The presentation will address:
- states of consciousness
- light sensitivities, adaptations, alternatives, and treatments
- auditory assistance
- tactile stimulation
- state of mind, altered states of consciousness and spirituality

Marcie is an autistic adult, with an educational background in physics and anthropology. She was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder prior to learning about autism. She is interested in everything relating to sensory perception and state of mind and the relation between the two. Marcie is currently employed in the environmental field and resides with her feisty tortoiseshell cat.

Stan is an autistic adult whose educational background is in aerospace engineering. In his present work in patent law, he specializes in high technology cases, including optics and biomedical equipment, including electrical impedance myography, artificial intelligence and cognition-based computer technology. He lives with his primary significant other, Charlie, a Cavalier/Carolina Barking Dog mix.

Communication and Power Dynamics.

Moderators: Chris Strayer, Kassiane A. Sibley and Phil Schwarz

An audience-participatory discussion about several key communication and power dynamics that can be present in challenging communication situations that may occur in our lives:

-Validation/invalidation of others' way of being or experience
- Privilege - what it is and is not, and how to be responsibly aware of it
- Tone policing - what it is and is not, and how to respond to it
- Inclusiveness/non-inclusiveness

Autistifying a Habitat: organizational & reminder strategies that even worked for me.

Kassiane A. Sibley

Contrary to what they might have said growing up, it's ok to set up our environments in a non-standard way to suit our brains! This presentation will provide some ideas to set up an Autistic-friendly "get stuff done/remember what I have and need/tell people I can't talk to them with no drama" household. Ideally my ideas will kick off a lively discussion with participants sharing their needs and their solutions. We will also have the opportunity to make Autreat-inspired interaction receptivity boards for home or elsewhere use.

Kassiane Sibley is a vintage 1982 Autistic who has done the Autistic activism thing since 1999 or so. She lives in Oregon, goes to school, teaches and judges gymnastics, writes the profane Radical Neurodivergence Speaking blog, and is one of the brains behind the We Are Like Your Child collaborative blog. Kassiane keeps all her executive function and working memory on the walls, and has 2 cats with seizure detecting superpowers.

Spatial inclusion - not just a right of access or to be to tolerated: Understandings from a four year study looking at autistics' spatial experience.

Sarah Clemerson

I have recently completed my Ph.D. in the United Kingdom looking at autistic people's perception of and functioning in space and what makes it problematic. Most research with autistics is carried out in laboratories, with little interaction between them and the researcher. In this study, the research took place in the homes, travel, work, virtual and leisure spaces of the participants. This resulted in ongoing dialogue between the participants and the researcher about their experience. This workshop will present information from this dialogue as starting point for discussion of the diversity of autistic peoples' social and spatial experience and our understanding and treatment of those whose experience of autism differs from our own.

Sarah Clemerson recently completed her PhD investigating autistic people's spatial perception and functioning and what makes it problematic, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the United Kingdom. She is a social worker, landscape architect, and wannabe academic. She was on the community engagement team for disabled Londoners for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), is a member of the London Autistic Rights Movement, (LARM), and the Developmental Adult Neurodiversity Association (DANDA).

Out Autistics: Doing Public Activism and Taking Care of Ourselves

Paula C. Durbin-Westby

This presentation will discuss aspects of being an "out Autistic." Once we have made the decision to disclose our autism, we will deal with a variety of situations, some anticipated and some not. How do we best take care of ourselves in various situations? (This presentation is not about how to decide whether or not to disclose; it is about what happens after one is "out" in some form.) 

Paula C. Durbin-Westby is an ardent neurodiversity proponent. In 2011 Paula started Autism Acceptance Day, which grew into Autism Acceptance Month. We are now in International Autism Acceptance Decade, with various events in the works for the time frame 2010-2020. Paula  is an Autistic musician, writer, and idea-generator. She is also an Autistic parent, committed to ensuring that the communications of Autistics are predominant in any conversation about autism.

Loud Hands: From the View of the Ivory Tower


This session will focus on an examination of notions of visibility, knowledge, power, and intelligibility primarily through an analysis ASAN's Loud Hands anthology. Loud Hands will be explored through the viewpoint of characterizing it as an Autistic communal counter-narrative that prizes the experiential knowledge of autistics over dominant and "expert" knowledge. These ideas will be put in conversation with various academic terms and concepts.

Dana is an autistic, queer, medically complex, Jewish, cisgender female who lives with multiple disabilities and chronic pain. She has just begun a program to get a Masters in Public Health in Sociomedical Sciences alongside training to be a Family Nurse Practitioner with a subspecialty in Women's Health. Dana's goal is to work with the LGBTQ and disabled communities to provide queer loving, disability friendly, and patient centered healthcare.

"I'm Just A Mom": A Discussion For Parents And The Autistic Community To Work Together

Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri

As the mother of an autistic child, I have immersed myself in reading all kinds of information on parenting and motherhood, especially literature about and narratives of parents within the autistic community. Upon close examination, a "culture clash" has emerged between parents on opposite sides of the cure vs. acceptance debate. The more popular narratives of parents who "fight" for recoveries/cures are indeed quite contrary to the fewer, lesser known stories of parents who focus instead on acceptance, accommodation, and positive autistic life. As I strongly identify with these acceptance-oriented parent narratives, and as a parent who supports and works for autism acceptance, I have found that there are not enough representations of these relevant parent narratives portrayed in the media or published in general, but increasingly these perspectives are being written and has spurred me forward into writing my own parent narrative. Even worse than the recovery- and/or cure-oriented narratives, is the long-used language and rhetoric that make the work writing my narrative more difficult. I seek to work with other accepting parents and autistic self-advocates to improve the public's perception of autism better.  How can we work together?

Rachael Zubal-Ruggieri, Web-Based Outreach, is Coordinator of Computer & Technology Outreach and Information Coordinator at the SU the Center on Human Policy, Law, and Disability Studies. In 28 years working at the Center, her work has evolved into the coordination of informational materials for the Center and its funded projects, specifically websites, Internet mailing lists, and the design and production of promotional materials. She is also knowledgeable about web design and accessibility, and has published two articles on web accessibility for people with developmental disabilities.  Mother to a 10-year-old autistic child, Rachael is currently enrolled in the Child and Family Studies program, with a Disability Studies Minor, at Syracuse University.

Witch hunts, moral panics, and epidemics: Understanding the autism hype

Jim Sinclair

This presentation will attempt to make sense of "autism epidemic" hype by exploring relevant phenomena including literal and figurative witch hunts and moral panics in sociological context, and bandwagon diagnoses in clinical context.

Jim Sinclair, an Autistic adult, is coordinator of Autism Network International. Jim also does freelance consulting and advocacy as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, runs the private home-based Moosepuppy Animal Rescue, and does frequent duty as a veterinary transportation provider, cat food chef, and sometimes cat bed. Jim has been involved for decades in advocacy and activism involving disability rights, animal rights, and intersex issues.

"Ask an NT" Panel

Moderator: Jim Sinclair

Panelists: Catherine Tan, Catherine Faherty

Additional panelists to be announced.

Mainstream autism conferences often have panels of autistic people to answer questions about the experience of autism. This is our chance to ask a panel of neurotypical people all those things we've wondered about NTs and why they do the things they do.


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