Conference outline & call for contributions: Inside Out: Autistic identities, participatory research & gender – two day conference July 2019

Two day conference with a difference

Inside Out:

Autistic identities, participatory research & gender


Day 1: Perspectives on participatory research practices, ethics and themes

Day 2: Perspectives on gender and creativity


When: Thursday 4th July & Friday 5th July

Where: The School of Arts, University of Kent

Cost: £25/day or £40/two days (fee waivers available by emailing the organisers)

Deadline for proposals: Friday 7th June 2019


This two-day conference is a collaboration between the Participatory Autism Research Collective, and the Playing A/Part research project in which the experiences and identities of autistic girls are being investigated through participatory, interdisciplinary and creative research methods (AHRC funded, Universities of Kent and Surrey). The event is in the context of increasing interest in processes and practices to facilitate research across different communities of practice and considers how these approaches are informing research on autistic identities and neurodiversity. In ‘Making the future together: shaping autism research through meaningful participation’ (Fletcher-Watson et al, 2018), the authors identify a need for more work to create supportive and inclusive research environments, to address the methodological challenges of participatory research and encourage researchers to work with autistic led organisations within the UK:

The opportunity is to create a burgeoning, merged community of research practice, including autistic and non-autistic people and other partners who work collaboratively to create facilitative environments and resolve important, relevant questions.

The event responds to this call as an invitation for researchers investigating autistic identities using participatory and/or interdisciplinary or creative methods to share their work. We particularly encourage contributions from the autistic community and we are designing the conference as an accessible event, informed by recent research on good practice (Brown, Thompson & Leigh, 2018). As we are seeking to facilitate conversations and to share practice, this call is for posters or exhibits based on research and creative practices rather than traditional paper presentations. We will publish contributions on our website and will consider ways of developing and disseminating the work featured through, for example a special issue or edited volume. Examples of practice-based contributions to the Day 2 event will be considered for inclusion in a tool box of creative resources for working with neurodiverse groups.

Our purpose is to map the current state of play in researching autistic identities and to facilitate dialogue between autistic and non-autistic researchers within a supportive environment. Each day will consist of a dialogue event (short presentations by two invited speakers addressing key questions), panel discussions, open space forums (focussed on posters and examples of practice) and workshop activity. The conference will bring autistic and non-autistic researchers and practitioners into dialogue about future research, new directions, new methods and creative opportunities. In creating dialogue between different communities of research and practice we aim to recognise and respect differences rather than attempting to force a consensus (Milton et al., 2012).


Confirmed Contributors include:

  • Sonia Boue (autistic advocate; multi-form artist and autistic practice)
  • Dr Laura Crane (Deputy Director and Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education, CRAE; co-author of Making the future together: Shaping autism research through meaningful participation)
  • Prof Jonathan Green (Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Manchester)
  • Dr Helen Kara (author of Creative Research Methods for the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide)
  • Dr Will Mandy (clinical psychologist and senior lecturer at University College London, UCL)
  • Dr Damian Milton (autistic advocate; academic; Chair of PARC)
  • Dr Dinah Murray (researcher, developer of the theory of autistic monotropism)
  • Dr Katrien Schaubroeck (Autism Ethics Network; co-author of The ethics of autism)
  • Dr Catriona Stewart (Founder and Chair of Scottish Women’s Autism Network; Scottish Convenor for PARC; writer and contributor to Spectrum Women: Walking to the Beat of Autism)

In-residence stand-up poet: Kate Fox, stand-up poet, researcher and broadcaster

In-residence journalist: Sara Harvey AKA Agony Autie, autistic self-advocate, vlogger, speaker


Topics covered in the panels include:

  • Exploring an interest model of mind (i.e. monotropism)
  • Autistic girls’ experiences of education
  • Autistic mothers and daughters
  • Autistic experiences of pregnancy and childbirth
  • Autistic girls and the BAME community
  • LGBTQ+ and gender fluidity within the autistic community


Contributions are invited in the form of posters or creative artefacts from projects that engage with the conference themes, issues and questions. These might include (but are not confined to):

  • Creative practices with autistic participants
  • Participatory research, neurodiversity and inclusive practices
  • Ethical issues in participatory autism research
  • Creative research methodologies and neurodiversity
  • Gender, sexuality and neurodiversity
  • Monotropism and related concepts
  • Interdisciplinary and inclusive research outcomes



Proposals for contributions are invited in the form of 150-word abstracts. These need to outline the rationale, content and form of the work to be featured. Please see our guidelines for further information on poster or creative artefact/resource contributions. The contributions will be presented as part of an exhibition in which there will be an opportunity for presenters to talk about their work and to engage in discussion of key themes emerging from the exhibition.

Please send proposals for contributions to with the subject line “Inside Out Proposal”. The deadline for proposals will be Friday 7th June 2019.

Please note the preferred language for this event is identity first (i.e. autistic person).


The conference will be inclusive and accessible, informed by the training and practices Kent has developed through its pioneering autism arts festival and research projects such as Imagining Autism and Playing A/Part.


The conference is priced to be accessible to as many as possible while covering catering and administration costs. Fee waivers are available by writing to the conference organisers.


Examples of creative/practice-based contributions to the Day 2 event will be considered for inclusion in a tool box of creative resources for working with neurodiverse (comprising neurodivergent and neurotypical) groups – details of what this creative box might look like can be found here. We will publish contributions on our website and will consider ways of developing and disseminating the work featured through, for example, a special issue or edited volume.


Brown, N., Thompson, P. & Leigh, J. S. (2018). Making academia more accessible. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 6(2), 82-90. doi: 10.14297/jpaap.v6i2.348

Fletcher-Watson, S. et al. (2018) ‘Making the future together: Shaping autism research through meaningful participation’, Autism, 1-11.  doi: 10.1177/1362361318786721.

Milton, D, Mills, R, Pellicano, L (2012) ‘Ethics and autism: Where is the autistic voice? Commentary on Post et al. ‘Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 44(10): 2650–2651.


Conference Organisers

Professor Nicola Shaughnessy (PI Playing A/Part), Dr Damian Milton (Chair of Participatory Autism Research Collective), Dr Hannah Newman (Research Fellow, University of Surrey), Chloe Farahar (PhD University of Kent and Playing A/Part Steering Group), Dr Dieter Declercq (University of Kent).