So I have this friend, Chris. And one day, Chris called me up and says “Do you fancy running an autistic conference/fun weekend for 300 people?” And I says, “When?” And Chris says “This summer.” And I says “You want to organise a three day conference for three hundred people this summer?” And Chris says “Yeah. ”

And I said, “Sounds great.” And Chris said, “Cool, let me send you want I’ve planned so far.”

So, the long and short of it, mainly the long on account of the fact that all plans written by autistic people tend to be very, very detailed, is that AUTConf, as it is now known, has a small committee and a big vision. We’re thinking workshops on autism, talks by autistic people, gaming rooms, editing parties, panel sessions, commercial exhibitors for all your autistic needs, bouncy castles, full catering and accommodation, and lots and lots of autistic people in one space talking about how great or problematic is to be one of us. Think Autscape but about seven times the size. It’s going to be amazing.

Autistic Conference club night
Artists' impression of what AUTConf in the spaces marked noisy.

It’s going to be in Manchester, venue to be determined by number of people wanting to come. International visitors are welcome (and have already expressed interest) and helicopter parents discouraged. Ridiculous amounts of thought are going into making the event as accessible as possible, to all forms of autism, common co-morbid conditions, and the usual range of access needs. You should be able to come on site, pick up your badge, and not need to leave for the rest of the weekend. A kind of autistic summer camp, if you will. Run by autistic people, for autistic people.

So, we’ve done that. But in order to get the hundreds of people we would like, we need to know what would make a conference for autistic people worth visiting for you? We therefore have a questionnaire. The contents of this questionnaire will significantly shape the actual programme for the weekend, so it is important that we get as much feedback as possible.

So here it is:

Autistic Conference knitting circle
Artists' impression of spaces for AUTies who don't like crowds.

Please fill it out. We have lots of contingency plans for if the feedback we get doesn’t fit our current working plan, but that’s ok. But we do need to get that feedback before we can move ahead.

Please also pass on to friends, colleagues, co-workers, lovers, priests, and partners. Post on forums, email on, share on Facebook, etc. The more people we get to AUTconf, the more fun it will be! I personally cannot imagine a better way of spending my summer than dealing with hundreds of autistic people in a single space with all their attendant pickiness and clumsiness. :)

But it all starts with this questionnaire. So fill it out, and pass it on. :)

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