This month’s event was a small discussion group, with input from a BGU student engagement champion who is involved in a piece of work to review the university’s provisions for autistic people. Discussions mostly centred around the on-campus support and facilities available to students with autism at BGU, which include designated quiet spaces, sensory equipment, and a lanyard system to show face mask exemption, as well as bespoke support plans for autistic students that are put in place in conjunction with course tutors. Considerations were given to how these facilities could also be utilised by autistic staff members.
Other discussions included considering what masking behaviours and coping mechanisms people find helpful, and how engaging in these can impact on wellbeing, both positively and negatively. We also continued on two of our discussions from last month, one around special interests; considering how these can present and how people draw a distinction between hobbies and special interests; and another around adult diagnosis, particularly in older adults and how society’s understanding of, and attitudes towards, autism have changed over the last 30-40 years.
The next Autism Café event will be held in March and will feature a research symposium, hosted in conjunction with The Participatory Autism Collective (PARC) featuring the presentation of research discussions by post-graduate and doctoral students from Bishop Grosseteste University. Topics which will be covered are:
How can autistic people be supported to enter the creative “gig” economy?
Advantages and disadvantages of pursuing a “diagnosis” of autism.
The lived experiences and journeys of autistic teachers.
Is the reading of literature different in autistic and neurotypical pupils?