The Autism Ideas café is a regular, informal opportunity for anyone with an interest in autism to meet and share ideas. The event, which has been running (in-person and then online) since April 2019, has provided a rare opportunity for people with an interest in autism from a number of different perspectives to meet and have discussions. The events regularly attract attendees who are autistic; who are parents or carers of people with autism; or who are professionals or academics with an interest in the subject. This approach provides a unique melting pot of perspectives.

“I find the ideas cafe a unique and positive approach to bringing different members of society together. In my work within education and learning, I have often wondered how we bring together members of society that may have a range of views and the potential to create meaningful dialogue and action.” – An Autism Café attendee, and tutor on the SENDI programme at BGU

The Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC) was set up to bring autistic people, including scholars and activists, together with early career researchers and practitioners who work with autistic people. Their aim is to build a community network where those who wish to see more significant involvement of autistic people in autism research can share knowledge and expertise.

This ‘symposium’ will showcase four autism research projects undertaken by participatory autism researchers at BGU. Participatory autism research is defined as research where members of the autistic community have control over the research agenda and the analysis of, and reflection on, the data that is generated. It embeds the values of the draft framework for inclusive autism research (Chown et al., 2017 ) including that autism research should be aimed at improving the lives of autistic people.

Each participant in the symposium will introduce an element of their current research and this will then be discussed in the group. Each section of the symposium will last for approximately 15 minutes, with the whole segment lasting one hour. Comments by audience members will not be supported during the symposium, but there will be an opportunity for discussions between delegates after this segment of the event.

Research topics to be covered are:

“The Precariat” is a good name for a band: Autism, employment and the creative industries - Examining the experiences of autistic individuals as they transition from university into employment within the creative industries.

Parents' stories involving autism diagnosis for their child – Exploring the advantages and disadvantages of having an autism “diagnosis”.

Autistic Teachers - The lived experiences of autistic professionals as they enter, manage, stay in, or exit the profession

Exploring classroom literature from an autistic viewpoint – How lenses of perception can impact on emotional interaction with a text. Published article: Lawrence, C., *, C., Collyer, E., & Poulson, M. (2020). “Howling at the scrabble-board”: exploring classroom literature from an autistic viewpoint. English in Education, 1-13.

Event organiser, Dr Clare (Kate) Lawrence (Senior Lecturer in Teacher Development at BGU,

East Midlands Convener for the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC) and

L.C.C. Autism Champion) explained that she is, "very excited by our first event as part of the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC). This symposium showcases how BGU is embedding participatory autism research into our work through interesting and innovative projects that will further enrich and widen understanding of autism”.

This event is funded by the Research England Strategic Priorities Fund.