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Start of a live-toot thread from Scottish Autism’s conference, from an perspective

Deputy CEO Charlene Tait is opening , saying that it’s important to understand masking and its impacts

SA have embarked on a process of working with the National Autistic Taskforce to improve involvement of people

Now, ‘Bigger on the inside’, by broadcaster and stand-up poet Kate Fox

Starting with her poem ‘Lots of planets have a North’, inspired by that line in Doctor Who Screenshot 2022-05-12 at 10.09.14.png

Talking about her diagnosis in 2017, saying it’s easier to be Autistic if you’re Northern (i.e. from Northern England)

She says she’s not always open about her diagnosis, and is nervous about ‘coming out’ – though true Autistic Pride might actually mean ‘staying in’ 😂

Talking about DSM reinforcing stereotypes: can’t understand metaphor or humour 😞

She just mentioned that people (in the UK, I presume) have a life expectancy of 54

I’m doing well at 55 then 😬

Slipping in lots of Doctor Who references (and a few props too)

Talking about fidget/comfort toys, Kate mentions how her use of something like this was one thing leading to her realisation that she was

She showed her sad/happy octopus, which she has taken on stage (not as a prop) – related to my one here

Talking about difficulties obtaining a diagnosis, and the lack of post-diagnostic support

She was privately diagnosed at the Tizard Centre in Kent, and got some post-diagnostic support from AMASE in Edinburgh in 2018, a year later

Passionate about community

She’s going to make a transcript of her talk available (or at least what she was going to say)

Next up at is Carly Jones, our second speaker, a campaigner for rights of Autistic women and girls

Her talk is ‘Autistic Spice – born to be mild?’

She says she will overshare!

Talking now about variations in ‘functioning’

She may be assumed ‘mild’, but her difficulties, e.g. occasionally becoming non-verbal and needing her daughter as an advocate, are therefore not taken seriously

(And on the flip side, those labelled ‘severe’ are far too often expected to be incapable)

Functioning labels aren’t helpful

‘Autism likes to bring a friend’ (as Carly’s doctor said), referring to the common co-occurrence of mental health conditions

There’s a lot of reluctance among the general population to believe we’re – or they think we must be ‘mildly autistic’ (we ‘don’t look autistic’)

Carly is talking about social imagination, as in the diagnostic tools (and the difference between that and traditional imagination – making up stories – which Autistic people are usually good at)

She relates a story of being invited to a group chat for planning a hen party but not realising she’d been invited to the party itself!

How do people ask for help?

Without asking questions, Carly feels that she approaches life only really knowing her plans and not being able to imagine other people’s plans

She struggles with prosopagnosia (having failed on at least one occasion to recognise her own daughter)

And talking of faces, she often takes things at face value and doesn’t ask clarifying questions

Gaining employment is a real struggle, with complex job descriptions, application forms and interviews all being barriers to many people

Disclosure (whether to do so and when) creates a dilemma

Reasonable adjustments are an extra difficulty

Autistic people are generally paid around 33% (?) less than allistic counterparts

Rushing a little towards the end

Dating: what is flirting etc.?

The justice system: false confessions etc.

Healthcare: interoception issues

Carly is answering audience questions now, before our first break

Welcome back to !

Will Mandy, clinical psychologist and UCL professor, is up next with ‘Time to lose the mask?’

He’s going to use the term ‘camouflaging’ instead of ‘masking’ because it’s more widely used in academic literature (never mind what people call it most often!)

Talking about a study in camouflaging behaviour by Julia Cook et al. published last year

Environment is a big part of camouflaging – it doesn’t happen in isolation, or for particular kinds of people

Intent vs efficacy (ability of person to ‘hide their autism’)

How do we measure camouflaging?

Discrepancy approach: how does underlying autism differ from observable autistic characteristics?

Self-report: using questionnaires (CAT-Q)

Laura Hall et al. ‘Putting on my normal’

Most research on camouflaging has been done with adults with ‘IQs in the normal range’ 😬

There’s a lot of variation in how much people camouflage

Some is down to autistic ‘severity’ or ‘function’ 😬

Some is down to gender: women tend to camouflage (slightly) more than men on average – huge overlap (Ratto et al. 2017)

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Eldritch Café

Une instance se voulant accueillante pour les personnes queers, féministes et anarchistes ainsi que pour leurs sympathisant·e·s. Nous sommes principalement francophones, mais vous êtes les bienvenu·e·s quelle que soit votre langue.

A welcoming instance for queer, feminist and anarchist people as well as their sympathizers. We are mainly French-speaking people, but you are welcome whatever your language might be.