Utah has one of the highest rates of Autism in the nation. Nearly 1 of every 58 children born in Utah are on the autism spectrum, that’s 13% higher than the national average. The vast majority of services and resources for Autism are directed toward supporting children on the autism spectrum. But children with Autism grow up to be adults with Autism. With few mentors, and even fewer resources available, many adults on the spectrum struggle to get the support they need to lead successful and independent lives.
This one-of-a-kind convention is designed for adults on the autism spectrum, to support both professional and personal networking, to provide accurate information, and to highlight services and resources available in the community. Presenters and panelists on the spectrum, will share their knowledge and personal experiences in an autism-friendly setting.
Thank you for joining us for AutCon 2018. Information about the event can be found below.
Stay tuned for next year's AutCon!
What's in it for me?
Sarah Heuser, AutCon organizer and presenter
“I first suspected I was autistic when I was 16 after seeing a character on TV who was explicitly labelled as "Asperger's" and who shared a lot of the same traits as I did. I brought it up with a a few people, and I was told there was no way. I was too good with words, and way too social to be anywhere on the spectrum. I still felt a connection to the spectrum, but I dropped it. Two years later I got my diagnosis. I did then what I always do; I went to the Internet to research. As I researched I found that the best information for me did not come from "experts" who had gone through years of schooling and performing clinical research. No. It came from other people that had lived with the same traits and challenges I had for their entire lives. It came from other autistic people. That's what AutCon is. It's people on the spectrum talking to other people on the spectrum. It's sharing coping methods, and work-arounds, and ways of using our strengths to overcome our weaknesses. Since my diagnosis I have immersed myself in real life situations with other people like me. I love my non-autistic friends and family, but there is something special about being in a group of people whose brains are wired like mine. It's a bit like the feeling of coming home. This is the feeling I hope we can help others feel with AutCon. I hope we can make it feel a little bit like you are coming home.
Jared Stewart, AutCon organizer and presenter
Why should I come to AutCon? That is a great question. We fully realize that the idea of going to a convention of any kind can be an unknown and overwhelming thought for some of us on the Spectrum. (Of course, there are those of us who absolutely love conventions too--otherwise ComicCon and all the others wouldn't even exist!) We're doing everything we can to make sure that the environment at AutCon is accommodating and autism-friendly in every way possible, and that the speakers, panels, and other opportunities will be fun, low-stress, meaningful, valuable, and powerful. That having been said, we're learning as we go. As far as we know, this is the first convention in the history of the world put on BY individuals with Autism FOR individuals with Autism. We think that there is inherent value in this, but truth be told, we have no idea how successful it will be. It could be 20 people who show up this first year, or it could be 200. It could be the absolute perfect mix of information and experiences, or we might be accidentally missing something really significant. We'll never know unless we try it though. No matter what happens, the people who choose to come will be the trailblazers who will shape the future of the autism movement in Utah and beyond. Look over the topics, think about the things you've always wanted to know about being an adult on the Spectrum, and imagine what it will feel like to be around a group who shares your challenges and accepts you for who you are. Come make a positive difference in your life and be a part of history!
Josh Olivas, AutCon organizer, presenter, and Star Wars enthusiast
Ever heard the phrase "you'll get out of it what you put into it"? Well, good news... That doesn't apply here, because AutCon is putting all the hard work into it for you. It's a conference for those with autism by those with autism - and there's no better source of life advice than that. Looking for answers and guidance to help you overcome the daily struggles of being autistic? Check. AutCon has it! Hoping to find others just like you and build out your physical and emotional support group? Yup. AutCon has it! Wanting to just play in a room full of legos? Of course, AutCon has it! Honestly, all that's left is for you to show up. And whether you show up excited or suspicious, I guarantee you'll leave AutCon feeling motivated and empowered.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are non-autistic friends/family allowed to attend?
A: If having a safe person along will enable you to feel comfortable attending, we welcome them. However, to avoid a crowded or over-stimulating environment the tickets are limited. We ask that non-autistic friends and family members will respectfully keep in mind that by buying a ticket to the event, they may be taking a space that could benefit an autistic person.
Q: Can I wear ______?
A: We want you to feel empowered and comfortable, if that means wearing a suit and tie (hahaha), wearing your favorite sweatshirt, or dressing as your favorite anime character, do it! Keep in mind that you will be around others so please be sure that you are clean, free of strong smells, and that your body is covered. Shirts and shoes are required.
Q: What if I need accommodations?
A: It is important to us that everyone who attends AutCon is able to participate to the extent that they are comfortable. We are happy to make any necessary accommodations. Because we cannot presume to know what you need, we are relying on you to tell us what you need with enough time to make the necessary arrangements. Please contact us via email at AutCon@svacademy.org to request accommodations.
Q: Do I have to be there the entire time?
A: Again, our priority is your comfort. If you can only be in social environments for a short amount of time, we’re cool with that. You can come when you want and leave when you want as long as you have a ticket. However, we will not be offering full or partial refunds based on time spent at the event.
Q: What do you mean by “adult”?
A: In order to attend the conference you must be between the ages of 18 and 99. No exceptions. We have sessions geared toward different ages of the lifespan and hope you will attend those that appeal to you most.
Due to licensing constraints, childcare will NOT be provided, and anyone under the age of 18 will not be permitted to attend the event.
Q: I get nervous about visiting new places. Can I come visit the location before the conference?
A: Absolutely! But please schedule your visit. Email us at AutCon@svacademy.org to request a tour.
Q: What do you mean by an “autism-friendly environment”?
A: This includes:
Q: What if I don't have an official diagnosis?
A: It would be inappropriate for us to require a "proof of diagnosis," and quite frankly, we don't really care. Whether you are self-diagnosed, officially diagnosed, or even just suspect that you may be on the spectrum, we invite you to come and be with your tribe. We like you.
Q: What do you mean when you say that your screening of Avengers: Infinity War is "autism friendly" ?
A: For our screening, we have set the following guidelines:
Meet Our Presenters & Panelists
A note from the organizers: Mental health can be a highly personal topic, and in our search for presenters, no autistic individuals came forward in this category. Rather than leaving such an important topic unaddressed, we chose to reach out to local professionals.
Sessions and Activities
Everyone needs a little coaching now and then. Our experts are here to teach you how they not only live with autism but thrive. Not comfortable asking questions verbally or in front of others? No worries. Non-verbal options will be available in each session.
Plus sessions about mental health, emotional regulation, and more!
Let's face it, autism can be very isolating. Come spend time with your tribe, ask them about their experiences, ask them how they make it work, ask them whatever you'd like. Not comfortable asking questions verbally or in front of others? Non-verbal options will be available in each panel.
Stuff to Look At/Read/Listen to About AutCon
4:00 – 4:50 CHECK-IN & RESOURCE FAIR
4:50 – 5:00 Seating for dinner
5:00 – 5:50 DINNER & KEYNOTE ADDRESS
5:50 – 6:00 Transition Time and/or Resource Fair
6:00 – 6:50 CONCURRENT SESSIONS
6:50 – 7:00 Transition Time and/or Resource Fair
7:00 – 7:50 CONCURRENT SESSIONS
7:50 – 8:00 Transition Time and/or Resource Fair
8:00 – 8:50 CONCURRENT SESSIONS
8:50 – 9:15 Travel time to theater for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR!
9:30 - Midnight AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR! at Cinemark University Mall
SUPPORT THIS UNIQUE EVENT
- Gold Sponsors ($3000 or more) will receive logo placement on all advertising leading up to the event, signage and verbal recognition at the event, logo placement in event program and on event T-shirt, and 8 tickets to our autism-friendly screening of Avengers: Infinity War.
- Silver Sponsor ($1500) will receive verbal recognition at the event, logo placement in event program and on event T-shirt, and 4 tickets to our autism-friendly screening of Avengers: Infinity War.
- Friend of ScenicView Academy ($500) will receive logo placement in event program and on event T-shirt.
For more information contact:
Kari Bushman, Community Relations
To become a sponsor contact:
Jessica Savage, Sponsorships