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On Goldsmiths and being vulnerable

2015-06-16

Last Friday I made my way to Goldsmiths (in London) for a conference about passing. More specifically, I was to speak about disability. Even more specifically, I was to speak about being autistic yet being able to pass/being viewed as neurotypical.

Doing a talk like this… means having to prepare yourself to be somewhat vulnerable in front of people. Fortunately this is kind of expected at such an event. I was also extremely worried about making myself visible.

This was the second event I have been to that involved that kind of rawness, and I am growing quite fond of it. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the times I have received most comments/compliments about my talk have been these two. Not because my style of delivery had changed, or the passion I have for what I was talking about had changed, but rather because I feel people at such events make more of a conscious effort to let you know that what you said touched them in some way.

In my case, I was really happy and excited when several autistics in the audience asked questions, and then came to me after the talk. There is something to be said about the immediate connection we feel with each other and the assumption that our stories will have things in common. Other people also approached me on Twitter to let me know they enjoyed my talk, which felt great.

I spent the day with one of the other speakers, as we had been in touch previously and it was really nice to have a buddy. It also meant being able to take advantage of the fact her partner is an excellent coach, which helped lessen my inability to “network” post any event I usually attend.

All of the speakers were excellent, and it gave me a lot to think about. I will definitely be checking out what is happening at Goldsmiths some more, as it seems to be such a vibrant place!

There is a lot more I could say about the event, and about my talk, but I just wanted to leave a quick record of my initial thoughts while I am still processing everything.

Tags: academia, autism, conferences