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About the program and lecturers – Autminds 2016

We have compiled an intersting and varied convention program. As a visitor of Autminds you have the choice out of three different parallel sessions. Presentations that are linked or related by theme are scheduled in such a way that you as a visitor has the option to attend all of them.

Please note that the division is arbitrary as most presentations cover more than one theme. Therefor the themes are created as a guide.

Theme: Organisations by and for people with autism; political inclusiveness of (your) autism; “the” or “your” “autistic identity”

Karin van den Bosch starts off the day with a presentation about PAS (People in the Autism Spectrum) The Netherlands, an organisation by and for people with autism in The Netherlands. “By and for” organisations are not always visible. Certainly in Europe these organisations often don’t know about eachother’s existence. This means that each group or organisation of people with autism has to independently figure out the how-to. Insights of the problems encountered by other organisation of people with autism is lacking, and so is sharing useful solutions.

Heta Pukki in cooperation with Roderik Plas will explain this theme based on her work in Finland. Just like Karin she points out that English speaking nations are leading the debates and ideas from people with autism and via “by and for” organisations are not much included. We also notice little international cooperation between such organisations. On international forums and studies concerning autism, the opinion of people with autism is largely invisible, and certainly of those in non-English countries.

Martijn Dekker talks in his presentation about the autistic subculture and an autistic identity. According to Martijn an increasing amount of political interpretation is given to an own (autistic) identity. He points out the presence of several ideas within the group of autistic people and among groups from different countries.

Menno van Beekum’s ideas appear to contradict this. With the expression “autism does not exist” and “autism is a discursively produced social construction” in mind, it is interesting to (re)consider the idea of an autistic identity. When Martijn talks about the political function of autism, Menno focusses on the interactionalist function of autism.

Marc Beek looks at autism from the idea of diversity. The existent idea of autism requires to be made more colourful and more diverse. In his workshop he explains how you can participate on a diverse view on autism. Marc’s workshop partly connects to the discussion regarding an existing (or not) autistic identity, also the subject of Martijn’s lecture. However Marc will directly address you as a visitor. What can you do yourself?

Theme: Work

If there is one subject which occupies adults with autism, it is work. As an organisation we received plenty of proposals about work.

Finding and keeping work; working in an atypical autism job; rules and facilities on the workfloor and failures; what can you do when you drop outside the common facilities? Also the call (from Elle and Peter Kurvers) to organise ourselves. In this case for those who are not or no longer eligible for a certain facility, like a jobcoach, or alike because you do not have no right to an allowance.

Peter Kurvers and Elle want to create a movement by and for autistics with a purpose to highlight visibility of hidden employment restrictions and provide counselling.

Germo Bekendam and Els struggle with a deficient visibility, however this time with people with autism who are working. In an occupation that is absolutely not linked to autism. It can create a feeling of solitude being the presumedly only person with autism in a certain field or a social occupation, for example a GP. Is this really so? Or are there other GPs or organisers with autism who are just not visible?

Margo van Strijp is, as a person with autism, working as a relief worker, namely an experience expert. How is that? What is it like to train as an experience expert when you are an autistic person, and have a son with autism? And how do you do that: deploying your experience and making it your job?

A first step to finding work is understanding your possibilities and your strengths. Margo also stipulates this. Michel Bergijk examines further your invisible talents. Michel connects it to questions on significance. Because, according to Michel, by doing what you enjoy, you are adding meaning to your life.

Theme: Quality of life

How can you, as a person with autism, be happy in a society that demands you to participate, to work? But what if  you do not work or can no longer fit in to the required standards? Can you still be happy? How?

These questions and more is what Tistje will answer in his Skype presentation.

Theme: Subcategories within the autism spectrum/ invisibility leading to misunderstanding

Peter Riemslag Baas has given his contribution the title “Richer with autism”. This recalls associations to questions such as happiness and quality of life. Peter made a movie, aimed to increase visibility to women with autism.

The presentations of Anna van der Miesen and AutiRoze (they belong together) focusses on asking attention concerning another subgroup within the autism spectrum, the LGBT community. People with autism who are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender. A group which have stayed under the radar for a long time, nonetheless plenty of people with autism do have lesbian or gay feelings, or do have a certain gender or sexual identity which is not conform the mainstream society.

Peter Teeuwen calls attention to people with autism and highly gifted. Is autism different when you are highly gifted? If so, how does this relate to, for example Marc Beek’s ideas concerning the fact that within autism there is plenty of diversity within the spectrum? Or to ideas about a (collective or political) autistic identity and such thing as a collective opinion of the autism community, who can be deployed in political and scientifical debates? Also the relationships between people with and without autism will be discussed.

Being invisible as a woman, as an LGBTer, as a highly gifted person or just as a person with autism. Being invisible, or not being recognised, valued or appreciated by your environment. Not being seen as you are. This may lead to anxiety and incomprehension. This is something that is highlighted in social situations, in communications. Jeroen van Eijk will further look into this.

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