In July 2019, CRAE’s Brett Heasman presented at the “How I Communicate” conference in London. Organized by Dr Rebecca Wood (SGDP, King’s College London), this conference explored the diverse ways in which autistic people communicate. Presentations were done in various formats e.g. artwork, musical compositions, theatre and comedy in the interest of inclusivity. A particular focus was placed on non-verbal forms of communication in order to consider how the participation and inclusion of autistic people who are minimally verbal can be improved.

Brett presented his research on neurodivergent intersubjectivity, using his animated visual form. His presentation looked at his recent research on how autistic adults build a shared understanding and therefore communicate with one another. Analysis suggested that an assumption of common ground, when understood, leads to rapid rapport and when not understood resulted in potentially disruptive utterances and a low demand for coordination. These findings reveal potential for unconventional forms of social relating that differ to that of neurotypical norms. Interactions between autistic people take a distinct shape and therefore have their own intrinsic value.

The conference was opened by Professor Francesca Happé and other presenters included:

 •  Jon Adams (artist, poet and speaker)
 •  Freya Cumming-Webb (researcher and presenter)
 •  Dr Marion Hersh (Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering, University of Glasgow)
 •  Jamie Knight (developer, writer and public speaker)
 •  Dr Shaun May (Senior Lecturer, University of Kent)
 •  Dr Damian Milton (Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disability, University of Kent)
 •  Sarah Playforth (speaker and campaigner)
 •  Prof Nicola Shaughnessy (Professor of Performance, University of Kent) & Dr Melissa Trimingham (Senior Lecturer, University of Kent)
 •  Anya Ustaszewski (musician and composer)