On 13th October, BGU hosted the second in its series of Participatory Autism Research Symposia, which featured presentations from members of the current BGU community and alumni.

Attendees joined in with the online event from as far afield as Sweden, Canada and Malaysia, and heard presentations from four researchers.

The first presentation described the artistic and academic journey taken by a current BGU staff member and an autistic BGU alumnus who created a short film called “Broken” (Rimmer, 2020) to detail an autistic pupil’s experience of trying to communicate with his teacher that his glasses were broken. This film has been used as a tool to support trainee teachers’ understanding of fluency issues in autistic pupils in the mainstream classroom. It can be viewed here.

Sophie, a BGU alumnus then shared details of her participatory PhD research project which focuses on autistic women's experiences of university, with specific regard to wellbeing. As she is particularly interested in the use of creative methods as a research tool, Sophie asked project participants to create creative pieces such as poems or artwork which expressed barriers to university and a desire for universities to be more inclusive.

In 1990, Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop published an essay outlining the importance of children’s books as both ‘windows’ and ‘mirrors’: books that are windows enable children to learn about the lives of others, and those that are mirrors support children to see themselves reflected. Clare, a PhD candidate at Cambridge University who is supporting three members of BGU’s academic staff with a research project into the representation of black autistic characters in picture books provided information on the study, which critiques this representation both from a Black and from an autistic perspective and investigates how these books work both as windows and mirrors.

Finally, Dan, a PhD candidate at BGU gave a short presentation on the BGU Autism Resources Community Hub (ARCH), which aspires to be a one-stop starting point for all members of the BGU autism community (autistic students and staff, family members, friends and allies) to access information about autism at BGU. This community-based, exploratory work aims to build a positive resource that emerges from our autistic community. The ARCH web pages can be found here.

If you missed the first Participatory Autism Research Symposium, you can view the recording on the Participatory Autism Research Collective Website here.