Check out our Presentations at AAC 2016!

We’re pleased to announce the accepted presentations for the Association for Autistic Community’s annual conference. Check out our sessions and make sure to register soon! Scholarships are available – e-mail aacc2016@autisticcommunity.org for more details or with any questions.
Bev Harp, MSW – Finally at the Table and Trying not to Flip it

Description: 

For several years now, you have been standing outside, holding the
sign that says Nothing About Us Without Us while inside parents and
professionals defined your needs and determined what services you
might be allowed to access. Finally, a few autistics are being
invited to participate on local and state advisory boards. Maybe you
are one of them. Quite possibly, you are finding the inside colder,
more difficult to navigate than the outside ever was.

How do you determine whether or not your participation might benefit
you or other autistic people? What if you suspect you are being
tokenized? How do you ensure that your communication needs are
understood and accommodated? How do you make yourself heard above the
voices that cry epidemic and demand ever more funding for therapies
you consider harmful? In a roomful of people, some of whom may be
hostile to your presence, what steps do you take to avoid meltdown?
What is your response to the prevalent use of functioning labels and
being told that you are “not like my child?”

You may even be working for an organization that serves or claims to
serve autistic people. In these cases, the stakes can be even higher,
as a single flipped table can end an otherwise beneficial employment
situation. What happens when a supervisor or colleague requests a
letter of support for a new project that does not appear to be in the
best interests of autistic people? How is one to respond when an
otherwise good employer insists on supporting an infamous
anti-autistic event or seeks to collaborate with agencies whose
practices we believe to be harmful? Where does one draw the line when
working to elicit change from the “inside?”

This presentation will explore logistical and ethical concerns
associated with attending meetings of autism societies, serving on
advisory boards, and working professionally in fields related to
autism and/or autistic advocacy. The presenter is an autistic person
with a master´s degree in social work who has experience working for
a state university on projects to support autistics and others with
developmental disabilities.
Savannah Breakstone – Twittering Community: Using Twitter Chats to
Build Autistic (and Disability) Community
Description:

As time and social media has gone on, the disability community and in
particular the autistic community have carved out a place for
themselves on each platform. One method of doing this on twitter is
through the use of twitterchats.

A Twitter chat is a way of connecting with people about a topic or
shared interest at a specific point in time on Twitter. It uses a
combination of a set hashtag (Such as #Autchat or #AutismMeans) and
typically some guiding questions to create a space for interested
people to connect and discuss the topic. The time span can be as
defined as a single hour, or can be set for a day- though a more
specific time span tends to give more of a sense of being together on
one thing, and tends to generate a more concentrated stream of tweets
especially in specific communities.

During my presentation, I will be talking about what a Twitter chat
is in more detail. I will talk about how they are typically structured, including enough background to allow someone to consider starting their own. I will also talk about tips for more effective
use of the twitterchat format for community building versus campaign
building. Included will be some things I’ve noticed to make it more
accessible to participate in, as well as tips for easier
participation in a twitterchat.
Sparrow Rose Jones – Sleep Issues and How to Address Them:
Adapting Standard Circadian

Details:

Autistic people have a genetic pre-disposition to sleep disruptions
and disorders. 35% to 40% of people in the general population
experience serious sleep disruptions but looking at research leads me
to estimate that as many as 75% of Autistics endure chronic sleep
issues with a noted predisposition for circadian rhythm disorders.
This presentation will discuss, using accessible layman’s terms,
enough of the biological mechanisms of sleep to help attendees gain
some understanding of how sleep and circadian rhythms work. This
knowledge gives individuals the power to adapt sleep advice for their
specific needs.

Scott Robertson – Achieving Neurodiversity Friendly Work
Details:

This interactive presentation will discuss strategies, approaches, and
resources that autistic people can use to secure, maintain, and succeed
at work in jobs in competitive, integrated employment. It will also
describe approaches to improve the neurodiversity friendliness of
workplaces, attain needed accommodations, and remove cognitive, sensory,
and social barriers. Additionally, it will speak about the issues and
concerns surrounding potential disclosure and selective disclosure of
autism and other disability identities in the workplace.

Ruti Regan – Coping with ableism without destroying yourself or
becoming a jerk

Details:

Being autistic or otherwise disabled in an ableist culture is really
hard. Most of us face terrifying and demeaning discrimination at least
some of the time. Some of us live in fear of life-threatening
discrimination. Most of us have been seriously harmed by people who
meant well. Many of us have been through demeaning therapy that taught
us that we weren´t good enough. Many of us have been abused. Many of
us have been abused by people who exploited our disability or other
people´s ableism to get away with it. And so on.

It´s hard to see yourself as a full person when others don´t treat
you like one. There are practical skills that help. I will explain what
some of them are. It can also be very confusing to figure out how to fight for your rights
and humanity without turning your whole life into a battleground. It´s
important to have things in your life other than fighting. I will
explain why this is important in concrete terms, and practical skills
that help make it possible.

When you have to fight for your humanity on a regular basis, it can also
be easy to misinterpret every conflict as an attack on your humanity.
This mistake leads to being mean to people who don´t deserve it, and
causes a number of other problems. This part will be about practical
skills for assessing what kind of situation you´re actually dealing
with, and possible responses to various situations.

Another complicating factor is that many of the actions that nondisabled
people use to show respect and consideration may be physically or
cognitively impossible for us to manage reliably. This is often seen as
meaning that disabled people can´t show respect (or that it´s
ableist to expect us to be considerate of others). What it actually
means is that we sometimes need to find alternative ways to show respect
and be considerate. This part will be about practical skills for
treating each other well when some of the socially expected ways of
doing so aren´t possible for us.


Kit Mead – Autism, Awareness Campaigns, and the Mental Health
System

Details:

This presentation will focus on the interaction between autism and the
mental health care system in the United States, and how society has
failed Autistic people by continually spreading damaging “awareness”
campaigns and dangerous propaganda, and leading to increased rates of
PTSD and trauma from repeated abuse and bullying. It will also discuss
how this drives many into a mental health care system that is profoundly
broken because it is based on the medical model of disability and mental
illness. 

Finn Gardiner – Autism Info Matters: Data Collection,
Participatory Action Research and the Autistic Community
Details:
Autism Info Matters is a presentation about a participatory action research
project that gauged attitudes about the creation of an integrated autism
database in Massachusetts in order to deliver final recommendations to the
state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services. The presenter will be describing
the way the project came about, the methods we used, and the final
recommendations we developed that will be delivered to EOHHS.

Sarah R. Pripas – Freelancing for Autistic People: Possibilities and Perils

Details:

The number of independent contractors in today’s economy has been growing
steadily. For autistic people who may encounter discrimination and lack of
accessibility in the standard workforce, the option to freelance is one
that may be particularly appealing. Freelancers can work as writers,
editors, graphic designers, web designers, programmers, musicians, and in
many other areas. However, freelancing comes with many challenges that may
be particularly challenging for autistic people. These include doing taxes
as a freelancer, budgeting during lean times, and marketing and finding
clients. While there are many resources available for aspiring freelancers,
most of these tend to utilize a neurotypical perspective. In this
presentation/discussion, I would like to discuss how autistic people can
approach these challenges in a way that works for us, given our differences
in communication and executive functioning.

Autistic people may be particularly vulnerable to scams and exploitative
contracts targeting freelancers. Drawing from my own knowledge and
experience as a freelance writer and editor, I will discuss common places
to find freelance work such as Upwork and Craigslist, reviewing the
benefits and drawbacks of these platforms.

Alexis Andrie Toliver – Race, Disability, and Police Brutality:
When Will Black Disabled Lives Matter?

Details:

The intersections of race and disability are hardly discussed. Why? Possibly because disability is highly stigmatized in communities of color. As a result of this, we have held few too little discussions on race and disability; particularly, how this increases the likelihood to be brutalized by police officers.

 

Our generation has seen a rise in radical activists that have appealing hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter and #SayHerName. Such movements have raised awareness on state incited violence against people of color; however, the disability aspect of this narrative rarely been discussed. Being black puts one at a higher risk of being brutalized, shot, and killed by police. However, being disabled further heightens this probability. Ezell Ford, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Quintonio LeGrier, and Tanisha Anderson are just a few of the black, disabled victims of police brutality. A few days ago, it was announced that the cops that murdered Jeremy McDole will face no charges. Jeremy McDole was a black, unarmed, disabled man, that was murdered in his wheelchair 2 seconds after a cop ordered him to put his hands up. Jeremy McDole was murdered as a result of ableism and racism; yet, his narrative is rarely told. There have been few to none hashtags and movements for him. Now is the time to stand up for Jeremy McDole. The truth is, disabled folks are more than half the victims of police shootings. It is time (for those of us that are able) to rise up against this. I am simply tired of living in a system where neither my black nor disabled life matters.

 

As disabled activists, it is time for us to stand against police brutality. This presentation is not a talk, but a call to action. We are at a point where the goal turns from raising awareness to creating action. We are at a point where actions have to be taken to simply stay alive as disabled people of color. Raising awareness amongst the able bodied is great, but if the masses aren’t standing for and with us, what is the point? We must bring forth actions that force the recognition of our lives and significance. It is time for black disabled lives to matter.

Association for Autistic Community Conference 2016 Registration is Open!

Registration is open!
Come join the Association for Autistic Community from September 23-27 as we build a space where you can be yourself, together. Relax at our retreat center, complete with a fireplace, lots of natural light, and plenty of friends.

The cost is all-inclusive. The facility is certified kosher by Star K and nut-free. Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, and omnivorous options will be available. If you have dietary restrictions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Our presenter lineup will be released by the end of May, and we have an AMAZING lineup. The delay is mostly because the board is making some hard choices between excellent presentations.
Note: We will have a limited number of financial need scholarships by the end of the summer. However, we don’t have an exact number yet, as it depends on grant applications, etc. If you are interested in coming to the conference but it is not affordable for you, please check back in late July.
Additionally, many state DD councils provide assistance to attend self-advocacy conferences. Contact your state’s council for more information.

Register here!

AAC Call for Presentations – AAC Conference Sep-2016 (deadline 9-May-2016)

Announcement: The deadline for presentation submissions has been extended! The new deadline is May 9, 2016.

Association for Autistic Community is seeking presentations for our second Annual Conference, the “Association for Autistic Community Conference” (AACC).


About AAC and AACC:

DATES: September 23 through September 27, 2016

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: May 9, 2016

LOCATION: Capital Retreat Center  (in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania)


The Association for Autistic Community (AAC) is an autistic-run not-for-profit entity (USA 501(c)(3)).  We are committed to the idea that autistic people can grow and learn from interactions with other autistic people in physical space, when the space is designed with autistic needs in mind.  We are not a therapy organization and do not cure autism. We celebrate the existence of autistic thought, community, and culture, and we believe these things can and do exist. We also welcome the support of allies, including parents, professionals, and friends of autistic people into our space to experience a bit of what autistic life can be.

The AAC Conference (AACC) is not a typical professional conference. It’s autistic space, and created first and foremost for autistic people.  As a result, presentations are just one part of our program. We believe that the presentations complement the interactions people can experience with each other in a more autistic-friendly environment.

PRESENTER BENEFITS

The biggest benefit is the interaction you will get with attendees at our conference!  We will also assist you prior to the conference if you would like help ensuring that your presentation is appropriately tuned for the audience.

Presentations selected for AACC will receive 1 full conference registration for a standard, shared (2 people) room. These registration includes room, meals, and conference registration as a participant.

In the case of multiple presenters, this conference registration will be divided among the presenters such that it is equal to one full registration (for instance, if two people present, the registration can be divided among the two presenters, such that each would receive a 1/2 conference registration).

For those who desire a private room, that option is available at the standard upgrade rate ($185).

DESIRED PRESENTATIONS

AACC is intended to be more than simply a set of presentations that may talk about us. Desired presentations are for us, not about us.  We want to see presentations that are about autistic culture and life, events that are of interest to autistic people, and ways we might live an autistic life in society at large.

Some guidelines:

  • Autism involves differences in communication.  Well-received presentations will include both written (for the program book) and verbal information, as this allows attendees to “pre-process” information prior to attending the live presentation.
  • If your presentation has phrases like, “Epidemic of Autism” or “Burden of Autistic Children,” this is probably not the conference for you! We are focused on positive ways of living with autism, not doom and gloom. It’s fine to talk about difficulties autistic people (and even non-autistic people) have, but this should be done in a positive way. Successful presentations might include topics such as alternative means of communicating during stress, how to manage daily living tasks such as eating and bathing, or how an autistic person can manage with the difficulties of dating.
  • Pay attention to linguistic accessibility. If you are using language that is not commonly understood in the adult population of the United States, your presentation probably won’t be successful.
  • Be careful of stereotypes. Autistic people are very different from each other, and we expect to have many different types of autistic people in attendance. For instance, don’t separate “parents” into one group you talk about in your presentation and “autistics” into another. (That would have an implicit assumption that there is nobody that is both a parent and an autistic.) We also expect to have people in attendance from throughout the world, so take that into consideration with your proposal.
  • It’s okay to have a non-traditional presentation. While the traditional power-point while speaking, followed by questions, will likely be the most popular format, it isn’t the only format we would accept. In particular, we are always interested in participatory interactions and presentations that can include people who might not enjoy sitting through nearly two hours of speaking!
  • It’s also okay if your presentation is broader than just autistic people, as long as it has relevance to an autistic population. In particular, presentations that may be relevant to the wider disability community are likely also relevant to us.

A NOTE ABOUT FIRST PERSON ACCOUNTS 

Most attendees live with or know someone with autism; thus presentations on “My Life with Autism” are presentations that may be rejected on the grounds that attendees already know – through first-person experience – what life as an autistic person is like. Personal experience is most valuable when it includes application to attendee’s lives or experiences.

In addition, it is important that your presentation recognize the diversity of autistic experience! While you may have first-hand knowledge of your experience of living as an autistic person, it would be unwise to assume that something that works for you would automatically work for everyone else. Your presentation will be best received if you are aware of diversity of opinion within your presentation topic. 

PRESENTER INFORMATION/RESPONSIBILITIES 

  • Presenters are expected to arrive and be at the venue or nearby at least 24 hours prior to their presentation. We expect you to be able to be reliable and to be able to actually give your presentation.
  • We may be recording presentations.  Presenters must agree that we can record your presentation and use the recording for organizational purposes (such as putting it on our web page or selling conference DVDs). In exceptional cases we may refrain from recording. If this is a requirement, let us know.
  • Presentations will be 1 hour and 45 minutes in length.  Most presenters choose to allow questions at the end – this time includes the question period.
  • We do things differently than some other conferences.  Of particular importance, media, slides, and material presented MUST be provided in advance to AAC staff so that we can prepare alternative of the material formats (such as a format accessible to a blind participant).  The deadline will be several weeks in advance of the start of the conference.  This means material cannot be added after that deadline.
  • We may ask for additional information during the selection process if that information would assist the selection committee in deciding which presentations to accept.
  • We will ask for additional information if your presentation is selected, such as your detailed contact information, how your bio should appear in the program book, and a description of your presentation for the program book. It’s important that such requests be answered in a reasonably timely manner (we understand that answering our questions isn’t your full-time job).
  • You will be expected to prepare material relevant to your presentation for the program book (a paper, outline, slides, and/or other useful information).
  • We have a non-discrimination policy that we expect presenters to follow. In particular, we will not allow a presenter to demean any class of people. In addition, successful presentations will seek to acknowledge, or, better, include, the existence of people who may not fit a stereotype or the dominant race/sex/religion/etc.

AAC NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY

We prohibit discrimination and do not tolerate any harassment, derogatory comments, or inappropriate behavior based on a person’s sex, race, age, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, religious beliefs, veteran status, disability status, communication differences, or any other physical or personal characteristic.

HOW TO SUBMIT

Send an email to aacc2016@autisticcommunity.org with the following format:


Name & Title (if any):

Title of Proposed Presentation:

Detailed Description of your Presentation for the selection committee: (this will probably need to be several paragraphs)

Describe (briefly, one sentence is plenty) how your presentation would be of interest to the following groups (or indicate “N/A” if your presentation likely won’t be of interest to a given group):

Autistic Adults:
Autistic Teens:
Family members of Autistic People:
Clinicians:
Educators:
Service Providers:
Other groups (specify the group[s]):

Enter a brief (one to two paragraph) description of why you are qualified to give a presentation on this topic:

Have you presented at similar events (Autscape, Autreat, AutCom, ASAN, AANE), or are you otherwise known to the autistic community?  If so, please describe.

Do you have any questions or concerns you would like us to answer?


FORMAT

Plain text (.txt) is preferred, as we transcribe all proposals to plain text for review. If your document is highly formatted (e.g., .pdf), please also provide a plain text version.



2016 AACC (Association for Autistic Community Conference) Sep 23-27, 2016, near Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia

The AACC (Association for Autistic Community Conference) is Back!

After our first conference in 2014, and a hiatus in 2015, we are pleased to announce that there will be an AACC this year — 23 – 27-Sep-2016 (Friday through Tuesday — over a weekend, this time). AACC 2016 will be held at the Capital Retreat Center in Waynesboro, PA, about a 90 minute drive from any of four airports: Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Washington Dulles (IAD), Washington  National (DCA), and Philadelphia (PHL). BWI is also an Amtrak station, on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. AAC is planning to provide limited bus service linking the venue with BWI. We will also try to help attendees make ride-sharing arrangements with one another.

The venue is in the Pennsylvania hills, with walking trails and a small lake. The lodging rooms have two queen beds, with one bathroom per lodging room.

We will be able to announce cost information for participants soon, as well as a Call for Presentations (CFP). The CFP will have guidelines similar to previous AACC and Autreat CFPs.

Stay tuned!…

Information about Past Conferences – 2014

Why would you want to attend AACC 2014, the Association for Autistic Community’s 2014 Conference?

  • Autistic people are the primary focus of the conference.  While parents, support staff, and others are welcome and can learn a lot, the conference is put on by autistic people for autistic people.  There is no “autistic track” or parallel conference – autistic people are the focus.
  • Spend time with other autistic people!
  • Enjoy some great presentations
  • Be in an environment where being autistic is not only accepted but celebrated
  • Color communication badges!
  • Since the organizers are also autistic, we try to accommodate common autistic sensory and social needs – no clapping, presentations without fluorescent lighting, no-scent policy.
  • Great opportunity to just see autistic community in action.
  • Focus is not on cure, but on ways of living as autistic people, advocacy for ourselves, and having fun together.
  • This is not a day program or highly structured event – you can attend presentations and activities or skip them. You can find a few other people and do your own thing. You can sleep in or stay up late. Or you can go to bed early and rise early to not miss any of the presentations!

Held Monday, July 28, 2014 Evening through Friday, Aug 1, 2014 Noon at the California University of Pennsylvania in California, PA, USA.  (This is in the STATE of Pennsylvania – they have a very confusingly named city named California, which is where the conferce will be held).

REGISTRATION CLOSES JUNE 28, 2014!

You can get more information here, including fees and frequently asked questions.

How Does Registration Work?

For each person attending, visit THIS REGISTRATION PAGE and fill out your information. You will receive an email a few days after you submit your information (the people who get your information are autistic so it will take a few days!) with information on how to pay via Paypal (US funds only) or check (US funds only).  After we get your payment, we will send you information about the where on the campus the event will be held, along with some packing advice, schedule, and other logistical information. If you’re sharing a room, we’ll also match you up with a roommate during this time.

We look forward to seeing you at our event!

AACC 2014 Presentations

We are excited to announce the following presentations for our 2014 conference!

  • Artistic expression as way to communicate and live a happy life
    (Brigid Rankowski)
  • The Bucket List I: Improving Authentic Communication and Social Relationships
    (Barbara Delsack)
  • The Bucket List II: Improving Motor Skills and Preventing Bullying
    (Barbara Delsack and Evan Delsack)
  • “Don’t touch me there”: Intimacy for Autistic Abuse Survivors
    (Joel Smith)
  • Emotional Power Dynamics and Manipulation Techniques
    (Ruti Regan)
  • Strategies for Anti-Violence Organizing: Where Racial Justice and Disability Rights Collide
    (Lydia Brown)
  • Teaching to Neurological Difference: Including Autistic Students in General Education Settings Using a Strengths-Based Approach
    (Ariel Caspe-detzer)

We’ll have more information about these presentations as we near the conference.  We want to thank our presenters for their hard work as they get ready for their presentations!

2014 Conference FAQ

WHAT IS AACC?

The Association for Autistic Community is putting on our first conference, the Association for Autistic Community Conference (AACC).  Association for Autistic Community is a non-profit organization that has applied for 501(c)(3) status.

This conference is designed with autistic people’s needs and concerns in mind. It is not a caregiver or service provider conference. While we believe parents and care givers can enjoy and benefit from this conference, the primary audience – without compromise – is autistic people ourselves. We want a space where we can share our unique culture, experience, and interaction style.

It’s a place to:

  • Meet new friends
  • Learn about yourself
  • Listen to interesting presentations about life from an autistic point of view
  • Take a break from a world that makes no accommodation for autistic people
  • Celebrate being autistic
  • Be yourself!

There is no forced march or forced program you need to follow. Don’t want to go to a presentation? Don’t! Don’t want to socialize? Don’t! This is not a “day program”, and we’re not going to try to cure you.

The two primary activities at the conference will be the presentation program and in-person interaction. The presentations will feature a variety of speakers will talk about topics relevant to autistic adults – how to live in a neurotpycial world, how to minimize stress in your life, what is going on politically with the autistic rights movement, and other topics of interest to autistic people. There will be seriousness and humor mixed in an interesting way.

The interaction element is critical and one of the main reasons Association for Autistic Community was founded. We believe there is something wonderful about autistic people meeting other autistic people and learning not only do we have much in common, but we also have interesting diversity among each other. This isn’t a social skills program or forced socialization, but rather a chance to see what other autistic people might think or be like. It can be an amazing experience to meet someone who just “gets” things that you have to explain to others. Equally, it’s fascinating to learn how diverse autistic people are – and that we have a lot of interesting diversity in our midst.

HOW TO CONTACT US:

WHEN / WHERE?

This event will be held July 28th (starting in the late afternoon) and running through August 1 lunch time), 2014.

It will be held at the California University of Pennsylvania – http://www.calu.edu/

The name of the school is confusing. It is in the state of PENNSYLVANIA, just south of Pittsburgh.

FORMAL PROGRAM

We are still finalizing our formal program, but we are happy to announce the presentations selected for our 2014 conference – See 2014 AACC Presentations

HOW DO I REGISTER?

Registration information is available at this page.

WHEN DOES REGISTRATION CLOSE?

Registration closes on JUNE 28, 2014.

AUTISTIC SPACE

1) How are autistic sensory needs considered?

We work to minimize noise in common areas, minimize use of fluorescent lighting (unfortunately we can’t eliminate it at this venue, but presentation spaces will not use any fluorescent lighting), have policies about scented personal care products, encourage people to take care of their sensory needs (it’s okay to wear earplugs or sunglasses indoors here!), etc. Even clapping is different – you’ll see us FLAPPING, not clapping! The organizers are autistic ourselves so we share many of these concerns with you. That said, everyone is unique and if you have specific questions, please let us know.

2) How are autistic socialization differences accommodated?

We utilize the now-standard autistic-space “interaction signal badge” – where you can signal your desire to be part of an interaction, or your desire to avoid interaction with some (or all) others.

We also use name tags that make identifications of people easier for people with faceblindness.

People are not expected to make physical contact with others (shaking hands, hugging, etc) unless they want to.

But, most importantly, most attendees are well aware that typical social spaces are unpleasant for autistic people and the rules are not applicable.

3) What if I don’t want to talk?

That’s fine! It’s also fine to talk.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

1) Will support staff be available for me / my child /etc?

We do not yet have plans for a formal child care program. There is no current plan for supervised child care.

All attendees are expected to be able to manage daily living tasks at the event, either without help or through the help of someone they engage with prior to the event. We do not require that daily living tasks be able to be managed without help from others, but simply that any assistance or help required is the responsibility of the attendee. For instance, someone might attend with another person to help you at the event.

We will contact appropriate emergency medical services in the event of a medical emergency. However, we are not equipped or trained to provide emergency medical services ourselves.

If you have specific questions about what assistance may or may not be available, or you have a request for accommodation, please don’t hesitate to contact us to see what we can do. We will comply with both the letter and spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

2) I don’t talk. Can I come?

YES! If the conference is of interest to you, we welcome people that communicate through means other than speech.

3) I’m blind (or have another disability). Can I come?

YES! If you will need accommodations, please contact us for any specific requirements you may have to attend, so that we can discuss how we can meet them.

SERVICE ANIMALS / ALLERGIES / SEIZURES

1) I have a service animal or emotional support animal (ESA). Can I bring my animal?

Service and therapy animals are welcome, provided you follow venue rules. We ask that animals be quiet, well-behaved, non-aggressive (both to people and other animals), able to cope with a shared living environment, and clean (we highly recommend that the animal be brushed at least daily and bathed in such a way to minimize allergens – some attendees are highly allergic to animals). You are also expected to clean up after your animal. If the animal becomes disruptive, fails to comply with local animal control laws or venue rules, or the handler does not have positive control of the animal, the attendee may be asked to leave the event.

Note that service animals & ESAs are not companion animals or pets. Service animals must fit the ADA and/or Pennsylvania laws for service animals, while ESAs should be prescribed by a professional in accordance with fair housing laws. Note that ESAs are not permitted in some spaces where service animals are permitted. If you intend to bring an ESA, please let us know so we can detail the allowed and disallowed spaces.

We also ask that you do not approach attendees that indicate that they are allergic to your type of animal and want to minimize exposure (note that we cannot eliminate exposure to service animals and ESAs). They also are expected to keep their distance from your animal –responsibilities extend to both parties.

We will ask people staying on-site if they intend to bring a service animal or ESA. We are not doing this to discriminate, but to ensure that we do not accidentally house a person with severe allergies in a small space with an animal they are allergic to.

There is no deposit required for service animals or ESAs, but property damaged by your animal will be charged to you.

2) I have allergies to something, and these allergies can be life threatening. Will you accommodate?

We will do our best to accommodate all participants. We are still finalizing our allergy policy, so the information below is not the final version of this policy.

We will have policies about strong scents (scented hair spray, perfume, cologne, etc), to minimize their use at the event by participants. Obviously-scented hygiene and cosmetic products are prohibited. We have also asked food service staff to label ingredients, however we have found that sometimes food staff fails at this (we will take remedial action with food service if this issue is brought to our attention, as it is our intent to enable people to make good decisions).

However, we are unable to guarantee an absence of allergens in our environment. Thus people who have severe allergies, particularly life-threatening allergies, will need to use the usual cautions they use when eating out, participating in group events, etc.

We are unable to ban service animals or therapy animals on the basis of allergy of another participant. However, we will work with participants to minimize exposure to the greatest possible extent.

3) I have seizures that can be triggered by certain things. Can I avoid these things?

We will do our best to accommodate all participants. We are still finalizing our seizure safety policy, so the information below is not the final version of this policy.

Flash photography is generally banned at this event. We also will minimize exposure to other known potential seizure risks, such as flashing strobes, loud music in public spaces, TVs in public spaces, etc. We may not be able to control every space that an attendee enters, but we can ensure our attendees are aware of the risks to others of their actions and enforce expectations that people minimize safety risks to others.

We cannot disable the strobes in the building fire alarm system.

We do ask that people to disclose potential triggers ahead of the event, if they feel that they could help us to accommodate them.

ACCOMMODATIONS FAQ

1) What are the accommodations like?

These accommodations are similar to a basic hotel or modern dorm room. They all have two beds and a bathroom shared by the occupants of the room (each room has its own private toilet/shower with a door, so you can change, shower, and use the toilet in privacy). Linens (unless you opt out of provided-linens) are provided at the start of your stay. There is no maid service.

Both private rooms and shared rooms are identical, other than number of occupants.

The rooms are lit with fluorescent lighting in the main part of the room. Attendees can bring their own lights or rent a light from us if fluorescent lighting is an issue. Note that tube-type halogen lights are prohibited in the dorm due to fire concerns.

2) If I choose shared accommodations, how will I be matched with a roommate?

If you know someone you would like to share a room with (like a family member or a friend), you both will be able to indicate you want to share a room with each other.

We will send you a questionnaire and ask some questions about your gender, sensory sensitivities (particularly noise) and desired interaction levels, and other similar topics. We will then try to select a roommate that selected compatible answers.

3) Is there a TV in each room?

No, there are no TVs in the dorm rooms. In addition, TVs in common areas not dedicated to TV watching (such as lounges) cannot be used due to concerns over triggering seizures and noise. With roommate permission, attendees are welcome to use personal TVs (that they bring with them) in their rooms.

4) How many people can share a room?

Generally it is limited to 2 (there are only two beds). If you have special circumstances, please contact us.

5) What about sound?

These are college dorm rooms, so sound insulation is not perfect between rooms. We will ask whether you prefer a quiet area of the floor – if you do, we will attempt to place you away from elevators, major access paths, and people who may not want to be in a quiet area. Quiet areas will not allow loud talking in the hallways, nor will they allow music or TV played loud enough to hear outside the room (which may be quieter than you are accustomed to listening to TV or music).

We recognize that sometimes it is impossible to not be heard outside of the room. However, if there are complaints, the person making noise will be expected to reduce their noise.

6) What is not allowed in the dorms?

Basically, anything that can be a risk to others or which is prohibited by the University. This includes all alcoholic beverages, firearms (and weapons generally), fireworks (and explosives generally), cooking appliances with exposed heating elements (hotplates), anything illegal (such as illegal drugs), etc. If you have specific questions contact us. We will also provide a more definite list to attendees.

7) What if I don’t get along with my roommate?

We do not anticipate this being a problem. However, should you have a shared room where we assigned a roommate, we will discuss options (such as relocation or involvement of appropriate authorities). Of course private rooms are also an option should you desire more privacy than a shared room will afford.

8) Is camping available?

No, unfortunately we cannot offer camping at this venue.

9) If I don’t pay for a room, but a friend pays for a single room, can I stay with them?

No. We are required to pay the venue on a per-person basis, not just a per-room basis. So we have to recover our costs. You cannot stay on-site if you do not pay for a room, and doing so will cause AAC to be in violation of our contract with the university.

FOOD

1) The food at some other autistic conferences is vegan. Is the food vegan?

We will be serving non-vegan items – meat and animal products (cheese, milk, etc) will be served. There will be a vegan option at each meal for people who do not want to consume meat or meat products.

2) How about GF/CF?

Not all food is GF/CF. However, there will be GF/CF choices at all meals.

3) I have a special diet need not covered here. Can I eat the food?

Please contact us so we can work with the kitchen staff to best accommodate your needs. The kitchen staff has experience serving thousands of students during the school year, many of whom have special diet requirements, so most needs should be able to be accommodated without difficulty.

4) I have an allergy to nuts. Will nuts be served?

Possibly, although we’ve asked that they be clearly labeled, separate from main dishes whenever possible, and separated to avoid cross-contamination in places like a salad bar. However, we cannot guarantee any dish won’t have nuts in it – the kitchen preparing the meals has nuts, attendees may accidentally contaminate items, etc. We will deal with problems as they occur when brought to our attention, but attendees must take appropriate precautions to protect their health, as they would do in all situations involving meals prepared or served by someone they do not know well.

5) Are there cooking facilities available?

Yes, there is a kitchen in the dormitory that is shared between all attendees and very-occasional use from university students staying over the summer. Cooking utensils are not provided. This facility includes a sink, microwave, and shared fridge. Because this fridge is shared, people other than yourself will have access to it. All food items must be labeled with your name and a date or they risk being thrown out for food safety reasons.

Access to the cafeteria kitchen is prohibited to attendees. You cannot use the cafeteria fridges, stove, etc.

Should you have special concerns (such as needing refrigeration for medication), please contact us.

FEE QUESTIONS

1) Are there scholarship options?

Thanks to some generous donations, there may be options for people who otherwise could not afford to attend AACC.  If you are unable to attend due to financial reasons, and a reduction in the cost of registration would allow you to attend, please contact aacc2014@autisticcommunity.org.

2) I have a low paying full-time job. Is there help to attend?

Yes, if you have a low paying full-time job, you may register in the “adult without full-time job” category.

3) Is there any other way to reduce costs?

If you can provide your own meals (note that you will likely need to find a way to get to a grocery store and prepare your own meals using a microwave or transport yourself to restaurants, as there are limited options on-campus), preparing your own food can bring significant benefits.

Likewise, if you can obtain low cost lodging off-site, you may be able to reduce your costs.

Some attendees at similar conferences have reduced costs by seeking out support organizations that will fund some or all of the cost of the conference. We encourage people to seek this option if it is available to them.

We hope to offer more options for conferences in future years, as we recognize the barrier that the current cost structure creates.

4) Where can I find the rates?

See our 2014 Fees.

2014 Conference Fees

For more information on the conference and AAC, see our FAQ by clicking here.

Note for All Categories:

All fees with a “key deposit” will see a $50 refund upon return of the key at the end of the event, payable by check. The key deposit is included in the rates below.

Adult:

  • Conference, Private Room, & Food: $687 (includes $50 refundable key deposit)
  • Conference, Shared Room, & Food: $647 (includes $50 refundable key deposit)
  • Conference & Shared Room Only: $447 (includes $50 refundable key deposit; No food provided)
  • Conference & Food Only: $440 (no lodging provided)
  • Conference Only: $240 (no food or lodging provided)

Adult without full-time job, full-time support person (that is, someone who is going to the conference primarily to support another attendee at the conference) OR teenagers & children 8-17:

  • Conference, Private Room, & Food: $527 (includes $50 refundable key deposit)
  • Conference, Shared Room, & Food: $487 (includes $50 refundable key deposit)
  • Conference & Shared Room Only: $287 (includes $50 refundable key deposit; No food provided)
  • Conference & Food Only: $280 (no lodging provided)
  • Conference Only: $80 (no food or lodging provided)

Children 4-7 (8th birthday must be after conference ends):

**If the child is staying at the event, and needs a room key, a $50 room key deposit will be required in addition to the above rates.

  • Conference, Shared Room (with adult), & Food: $378 (does not include a room key)
  • Conference & Shared Room (with adult) Only: $248 (does not include a room key; No food provided)
  • Conference & Food Only: $240 (no lodging provided)
  • Conference Only: $40 (no food or lodging provided)

Fee, young children through 3 (4th birthday must be after conference ends):

  • Conference, Shared Room (with adult bringing child): $148.00
  • Conference Only: $35

DAY RATES:

Fees are ¼ the above fees per day. Round up to the nearest dollar.

LINEN REDUCTION:

The rates that include lodging include linen service. Linen service includes blanket, pillow, towels, and sheets. If you want to opt out of linen service (you will thus need to bring these items yourself), cost can be reduced $25 for the conference.

Call for Presentations

Please feel free to distribute this CFP in appropriate locations.

Association for Autistic Community is seeking presentations for our first Annual Conference, the “Association for Autistic Community Conference” (AACC).

About AAC and AACC:

DATES: July 28 through August 1, 2014

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: March 30, 2014

LOCATION: California University of Pennsylvania (in the TOWN of California in the STATE of Pennsylvania)

The Association for Autistic Community (AAC) is an autistic-run not-for-profit entity (USA 501(c)(3) paperwork has been filed with the IRS).  We are committed to the idea that autistic people can grow and learn from interactions with other autistic people in physical space, when the space is designed with autistic needs in mind.  We are not a therapy organization and do not cure autism. We celebrate the existence of autistic thought, community, and culture, and we believe these things can and do exist. We also welcome the support of allies, including parents, professionals, and friends of autistic people into our space to experience a bit of what autistic life can be.

The AAC Conference (AACC) is not a typical professional conference. It’s autistic space, and created first and foremost for autistic people.  As a result, presentations are just one part of our program. We believe that the presentations complement the interactions people can experience with each other in more autistic-friendly environment.

Presenter Benefits

The biggest benefit is the interaction you will get with attendees at our conference!  We will also assist you prior to the conference if you would like help ensuring that your presentation is appropriately tuned for the audience.

Presentations selected for AACC will receive 1 full conference registration for a standard, shared (2 people) room. These registration includes room, meals, and conference registration as a participant.

In the case of multiple presenters, this conference registration will be divided among the presenters such that it is equal to one full registration (for instance, if two people present, the registration can be divided among the two presenters, such that each would receive a 1/2 conference registration).

If your presentation is accepted, we do ask for a key/room condition deposit before check-in ($50 per room key, refunded at checkout).  In addition, for those who desire a private room, that option is available at the standard upgrade rate ($25/night). 

Desired Presentations

AACC is intended to be more than simply a set of presentations that may talk about us. Desired presentations are for us, not about us.  We want to see presentations that are about autistic culture and life, events that are of interest to autistic people, and ways we might live an autistic life in society at large.

Some guidelines:

  • Autism involves differences in communication.  Well-received presentations will include both written (for the program book) and verbal information, as this allows attendees to “pre-process” information prior to attending the presentation.
  • If your presentation has phrases like, “Epidemic of Autism” or “Burden of Autistic Children,” this is probably not the conference for you! We are focused on positive ways of living with autism, not doom and gloom. It’s fine to talk about difficulties autistic people (and even non-autistic people) have, but this should be done in a positive way. Successful presentations might include topics such as alternative means of communicating during stress, how to manage daily living tasks such as eating and bathing, or how an autistic person can manage with the difficulties of dating.
  • Pay attention to linguistic accessibility. If you are using language that is not commonly understood in the adult population of the United States, your presentation probably won’t be successful.
  • Be careful of stereotypes. Autistic people are very different from each other, and we expect to have many different types of autistic people in attendance. For instance, don’t separate “parents” into one group you talk about in your presentation and “autistics” into another (that would have an implicit assumption that there is nobody that is both a parent and an autistic). We also expect to have people in attendance from throughout the world, so take that into consideration with your proposal.
  • It’s okay to have a non-traditional presentation. While the traditional power-point while speaking, followed by questions, will likely be the most popular format, it isn’t the only format we would accept. In particular, we are always interested in participatory interactions and presentations that can include people who might not enjoy sitting through nearly two hours of speaking!
  • It’s also okay if your presentation is broader than just autistic people, as long as it has relevance to an autistic population. In particular, presentations that may be relevant to the wider disability community are likely also relevant to us.

A Note About First Person Accounts 

Most attendees live with or know someone with autism; thus presentations on “My Life With Autism” are presentations that may be rejected on the grounds that attendees already know – through first-person experience – what life as an autistic person is like. Personal experience is most valuable when it includes application to attendee’s lives or experiences.

In addition, it is important that your presentation recognize the diversity of autistic experience! While you may have first-hand knowledge of your experience of living as an autistic person, it would be unwise to assume that something that works for you would automatically work for everyone else. Your presentation will be best received if you are aware of diversity of opinion within your presentation topic. 

Presenter Information / Responsibilities 

  • Presenters are expected to arrive and be on-site at least 24 hours prior to their presentation. Thus, if you are scheduled to give a presentation on Wed morning, you would need to arrive and register on Tuesday morning.  We expect you to be able to be reliable and to be able to actually give your presentation.
  • We may be recording presentations.  Presenters must agree that we can record your presentation and use the recording for organizational purposes (such as putting it on our web page or selling conference DVDs). In exceptional cases we may refrain from recording. If this is a requirement, let us know.
  • Presentations will be 1 hour and 45 minutes in length.  Most presenters choose to allow questions at the end – this time includes the question period.
  • We do things differently than some other conferences.  Of particular importance, media, slides, and material presented MUST be provided in advance to AAC staff so that we can prepare alternative of the material formats (such as a format accessible to a blind participant).  The deadline will be several weeks in advance of the start of the conference.  This means material cannot be added after that deadline.
  • We may ask for additional information during the selection process if that information would assist the selection committee in deciding what presentations to accept.
  • We will ask for additional information if your presentation is selected, such as your detailed contact information, how your bio should appear in the program book, and a description of your presentation for the program book. It’s important that such requests be answered in a reasonably timely manner (we understand that answering our questions isn’t your full-time job).
  • You will be expected to prepare material relevant to your presentation for the program book (a paper, outline, slides, and/or other useful information).
  • We have a non-discrimination policy that we expect presenters to follow. In particular, we will not allow a presenter to demean any class of people. In addition, successful presentations will seek to acknowledge, or, better, include, the existence of people who may not fit a stereotype or the dominant race/sex/religion/etc.

AAC Non-Discrimination Policy

We prohibit discrimination and do not tolerate any harassment, derogatory comments, or inappropriate behavior based on a person’s sex, race, age, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, religious beliefs, veteran status, disability status, communication differences, or any other physical or personal characteristic.

How to Submit

Send an email to cfp2014@autisticcommunity.org  with the following format:

Name & Title (if any):

Title of Proposed Presentation:

Detailed Description of your Presentation for the selection committee: (this will probably need to be several paragraphs)

Describe (briefly, one sentence is plenty) how your presentation would be of interest to the following groups (or indicate “N/A” if your presentation likely won’t be of interest to a given group):

Autistic Adults:
Autistic Teens:
Family members of Autistic People:
Clinicians:
Educators:
Service Providers:
Other groups (specify the group[s]):

Enter a brief (one to two paragraph) description of why you are qualified to give a presentation on this topic:

Have you presented at similar events (Autscape, Autreat, Autism National Committee, ASAN), or are you otherwise known to the autistic community?  If so, please describe.

Do you have any questions or concerns you would like us to answer?

Statement on the Autism Speaks to Washington Policy Summit

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), the leading national advocacy organization run by and for Autistic people speaking for ourselves, and the Association for Autistic Community (AAC), an Autistic-run organization focusing on advancing Autistic community and culture, issued the following statement on November 12th, 2013 regarding Autism Speaks’ “Autism Speaks to Washington” Policy Summit:

We are profoundly concerned by Autism Speaks’ “Autism Speaks to Washington” Policy Summit to take place at George Washington University this week. Autism Speaks has a long and continued pattern of exclusion of Autistic voices from its work on autism. As an organization without a single Autistic person on its board of directors, Autism Speaks is the last group our nation’s leaders should be entrusting with the creation of a “national plan to address autism”.

This week, Autism Speaks co-Founder Suzanne Wright announced the opening of the Policy Summit by characterizing autistic people as kidnap victims and our families as nothing more than victims of tragedy and burden. She cited inaccurate and offensive statistics claiming that Autistic people cost our nation tens of billions of dollars annually. She does this as her organization devotes only 4 cents on every dollar donated to them to supporting autistic people and our families. She does this as her organization supports pity, fear and segregated housing and service-provision in their advocacy. Is this the organization that we want speaking on our behalf? We think not.

As policymakers and disability community leaders consider how best to support the needs of autistic adults, it is vital that they reach out to organizations run by and for Autistic people ourselves. Groups that persist in excluding Autistic voices and endorsing outdated and segregated models of service-provision have no place leading the national conversation on autism. We deserve better.

Press contact at Association for Autistic Community: admin@autisticcommunity.org