Making our conference autism-friendly
AsIAm is an organisation committed to developing a more inclusive Ireland for the Autism-community. The need for society to be made more accessible for Autistic people is something which our organisation constantly highlights. Whenever we get the opportunity we like to demonstrate Autism-friendly practises.
We feel autism-friendly practises are particularly vital at the National Autism Conference. For attendees, conferences can be busy, overwhelming environments. It can be stressful planning and organising your day and the level of communication and interaction can be exhausting. While we cannot make every aspect of the day suit every person’s needs, we are committed to ensuring that the venue is accessible as possible, for as many people as possible. This includes ensuring that everyone knows what to expect and has an opportunity to prepare themselves accordingly.
In the weeks ahead, we will make photographs available of the rooms and also develop a social story or “what to expect” guide for the event. In the meantime, we wanted to share some of the measures we will be putting in place on the day:
We deliberately hold the Conference in a self-contained Conference Centre so that we can control the sensory environment, in so far as possible. We will also be briefing all Conference venue staff and technicians prior to the event on the specific needs of our community
Communication Stickers & Ear Plugs
Every delegate will receive communication stickers and ear plugs on arrival. The stickers can be used to indicate if you wish to have people initiate conversation or if you would prefer to chose to initiate conversation if you wish to speak (replacement stickers will be available for people who may prefer different options at different points in the day). The ear plugs can be used at any point in the day if a person wishes to regulate noise levels.
Conferences are a real example of information overload. While we make speaker notes available after the Conference, we also want to highlight the different ways of taking in and processing information, which can benefit everyone. For that reason, we have an artist live animate our conference. At the breaks, you can see what was just discussed on stage in picture format!
Question & Answer Boxes
For those who may wish to ask questions but not feel comfortable speaking in a large room or who may find it difficult to think of a question on the spot, we will provide question boxes so that you will have an opportunity to submit questions. Not every question can be put to every speaker but it is an opportunity to participate beyond speaking on the floor.
As conference registration can be a busy and stressful process, we provide a quiet area and time for registration for Autistic delegates who pre-register for this option
We will have a number of quiet spaces available throughout the day for delegates who may need to take a break from the sessions or the crowd. As well as these spaces, The Grand Hotel is conveniently located next to Malahide Beach for those who may enjoy a quick stroll during the course of the day!
Due to the wide variety of dietary needs within the Autism Community, we will provide an opportunity for delegates to submit their dietary needs to us, ahead of the Conference, which we will do our very best to accommodate.
We have deliberately selected lunch options which are not too strong smelling and will only permit lunch options / food provided by our caterers in the Conference venue, for this reason
We will also provide an opportunity to register for a “quiet lunch” option.
Lighting & Smell
We will ask attendees to disable flash on their phones, if taking photographs. Our official photographer will ask for people’s preferences before using flash.
We will ask Delegates to avoid wearing perfume or aftershave to the event
Accepting & Empowering atmosphere
The most important part of our Conference is the atmosphere. We encourage everyone to be themselves and to “do what they need to do” once accepting the needs and experiences of other Delegates
To that end, in preparing for Conference please feel free to bring any sensory equipment or coping tools which work for you. If you need to pace or move about please feel free! The only consideration we ask is that you are mindful of other people’s experiences – when we are all considerate of each other’s needs, a great event (and indeed society!) is made!