Scottish Autism Online Conference
Now Available On Demand

12th May 2022


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The Scottish Autism conference will run online as a virtual event

The theme for the conference will be:

“Behind the Mask: Autistic Experience and Professional Practice”

12 May 2022

Conference Information

The conference aims to understand the pressures, stresses and consequences that autistic people feel “fitting in”, and in accessing support. We will explore the ways that professionals can recognise the lived experience of autistic people; change practitioner behaviour to better accommodate autistic needs; and create safe spaces where autistic people can be themselves.

We will ask how professionals and those they support can exchange perspectives through meaningful dialogue, promote respectful interactions and relations, and create a more positive experience of services and society more widely.

Meet The Speakers


09:30 - 10:00 Waiting room opens
10:00 - 10:15 Welcome Charlene Tait, Deputy CEO, Scottish Autism
Session 1
10:15 - 10:55 Bigger on the Inside Kate Fox, Broadcaster and Stand-Up Poet
10:55 - 11:35 Autistic Spice - Born to be Mild? Carly Jones MBE, Autistic Woman and Campaigner of Rights for Autistic Women and Girls
11:35 - 11:50 Comfort Break
Session 2
11:50 - 12:30 Time to Lose the Mask? Understanding the Nature, Consequences and Costs of Camouflaging by Autistic People Will Mandy, Clinical Psychologist and Professor at University College London (UCL)
12:30 - 13:10 Autism Dialogue Jonathan Drury, Founder of Dialogic Action CIC
13:10 - 14:10 Lunch Break
Session 3
14:10 - 14:50 Whose Behaviour Needs to Change? Andy McDonnell, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director of Studio III Clinical Services
14:50 - 15:30 Build Autism Acceptance through Community Partnership Adam Harris, Founder and CEO of AsIAm
15:30 - 15:50 Plenary Q&A
15:50 - 16:00 Closing Remarks Charlene Tait, Deputy CEO
16:00 Close

*All speakers will present for 30 minutes followed by a 10 minute Q&A. There will also be a plenary Q&A at the end of the conference if you have any further questions for any of our speakers.

Conference Presentations

Bigger on the Inside

Kate Fox, Broadcaster and Stand-Up Poet

Professional broadcaster and stand-up poet Kate Fox is also an academic comedy researcher. She will share insights and extracts from her stand up show Bigger on the Inside, which entwines the history of autistic activism with her own life story and that of the BBC show Doctor Who. (The science fiction show doubles as a history of attitudes to “normality” across the decades of its existence).

She will also look at what the work of autistic comedians such as Hannah Gadsby, Ria Lina and Ashley Storrie can show us about autistic masking and camouflaging. Is there such a thing as "autistic humour"? How does "autistic joy" transmit itself on stage?

Autistic Spice - Born to be Mild?

Carly Jones MBE FRSA, Autism Consultant and Advocate

We often hear the term “mild autism” and in contrast the "severity" of how masking can impact an autistic person's mental health and happiness.

Through the use of unfiltered, over sharing memories and comedy, Carly aims to show how what could appear to be mild clinical diagnosis for some, if not all, is anything but a mild life experience.

Scraping back the veneer of what we present to the world, in a fun yet hard hitting presentation that hopes to show the reality of what is behind the performance of an autistic life, the huge personal toll and the vast public misunderstandings of "mild" autism.

Not mild - spicy.

Time to lose the mask? Understanding the nature, consequences and costs of camouflaging by autistic people

Will Mandy, Clinical Psychologist and Professor at University College London (UCL)

'Social camouflaging' is a term used to describe a set of behaviours designed to mask and/or compensate for autistic characteristics in social situations. Camouflaging is an important part of the day-to-day experience of many autistic people, but has only recently become the focus of research. In this talk Will will draw upon a range of new research projects to describe camouflaging and address the following questions: (1) How can camouflaging be identified/measured? (2) How common is camouflaging amongst males and females on the autism spectrum? (3) Why do people camouflage? (4) What are the positive consequences of camouflaging? (5) What costs autistic people experience from camouflaging? Will will finish by exploring the implications for clinical and educational practice, making recommendations for supporting autistic young people and adults in a range of settings.

Autism Dialogue

Jonathan Drury, Founder of Dialogic Action CIC

The rise in autism diagnoses raises questions about a happy, joined-up society, but despite unprecedented levels of connectivity, there seems to be a growing breakdown in communication. We are living through a monumental social paradox.

According to science, connecting with others is the most effective way of staying healthy and we've even learned how social distancing is crucial for our survival as a species. Autistic people who typically self-isolate for mental-health reasons have been ahead of the curve. What can we learn from this and how can it inform our common values?

To address what Quantum physicist David Bohm saw as a fragmentation of consciousness and under-developed socioeconomic systems, he helped form a method that we have come to know as Bohm Dialogue.

The main aims of Autism Dialogue are improved wellbeing, better communication across society and support for a growing culture of neurodivergent leaders. Through mediating conflict within self and across cultures, Dialogue allows multiple perspectives to co-exist in the same space of enquiry.

With some simple guidance and careful facilitation, Dialogue aids the collective flow of thought and language and slows down normative modes of interaction, so that knowledge can be created together, bringing deep change and shifting attitudes that offering to restore balance and harmony to the whole.

Whose behaviour needs to change?

Professor Andy McDonnell, BSc. MSc. PhD. Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Director of Studio III

The psychologist Albert Bandura maintained that all behaviour is about perception. Autistic individuals who become highly stressed can find themselves exposed to behaviour support approaches where a degree of conformity is expected. Practitioners are required to focus on a reflective approach that focuses on their own, often inadvertent, triggers of behaviours of concern. The Low Arousal Approach (McDonnell, 2019) focuses on crisis management in a humane manner. Non-confrontational approaches often require us to negotiate and, to a certain degree, give up control. This talk will focus on the Low Arousal Approach and how it impacts on our thinking. Through a series of practitioner examples, it will be illustrated that understanding stress and stress transactions is a much more positive narrative.

Build Autism Acceptance through Community Partnership

Adam Harris, Founder and CEO of AsIAm, Ireland's National Autism Charity

Growing up as an autistic person in Ireland, Adam believed that many of the barriers which he and his peers encountered in life were not to do with being autistic but rather a lack of public understanding and accessibility. In 2014 he established AsIAm with the aim of starting a national conversation about autism and providing real support to autistic people, families and communities.

As an organisation, AsIAm places an emphasis on the need to both engage and empower autistic people and supporting public, private and community based organisations in order to create an equitable society for all. This talk will explore the barriers to inclusion for autistic people in society, highlighting the need to move beyond mere awareness of autism by highlighting autistic voices and the broader societal shift towards equality issues. Adam will highlight programmes which his organisation has developed to create the world's first Autism-Friendly University project and Ireland's first Autism-Friendly Town which are built on the concept of working in partnership, celebrating diversity and taking a solutions based approach to social exclusion.

Conference Packages

Please choose your preferred conference package.

On Demand*

*On Demand will be available from 13 May 2022 and will be available until 12 November. Please note closing date to register for On Demand will be 12 October 2022

Conference Rates

Standard Delegate Rate

This rate is for all professionals or anyone with an interest in autism.

CPD Accreditation (available to Standard Delegate Rate only)

  • This conference will be accredited by the CPD Certification Service.
  • Delegates will receive a certificate of completion.
  • Further information on the CPD Certification Service can be found on their website.

Autistic Individual/Family Member Rate - Pay What You Can (PWYC)

Pay What You Can is a pilot scheme open to autistic people and their families to access the conference. Please note this is NOT for professionals.

The Pay What You Can Scheme is to ensure the conference is accessible to as many autistic people and their families as possible. Places will be limited.

Pay What You Can FAQs

Zoom Guide

Visit our Zoom Guide for details on how to access the conference and how to obtain the best viewing experience.

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Conference Photo Gallery

Take a look at some of our highlights from the 2019 conference. Photo credit: Tina Norris Photography