File this one under “Mom Nerd.”
You see, technically, I am no longer an Academic. That is, once I received my doctoral degree, I quickly fled university life, seeking to find employment in the ‘real world.’ I was determined to escape the Ivory Towers that held me captive for so long.
That being said, I aspire to read and engage with other academics all the time. (I also aspire to conduct scholarly research in the ‘real world,’ but that’s another story – and perhaps another blog.) Recently, I have gotten word about several conferences that are happening this year that involve autism and technology. Naturally, I am salivating at all of them! Some of these conferences are more academic in nature, but others are opportunities for parents, therapists, and makers of apps, media and toys for people with autism to get together and discuss their experiences. While I cannot attend all of these, I thought I’d take a moment and share what I know, in case some of you might be interested, too.
- The Interaction Design & Children (IDC) conference is an international conference that focuses on research about “designing meaningful, engaging, interactive experiences for children.” It’s held every other year in the United States (with alternate years being in a different country), and this year it’s in New York City from June 24 – 27. This is the 12th year of this conference that brings together researchers, designers, and educators. The conference incorporates papers, presentations, speakers, workshops, participatory design experiences and discussions on how to create better interactive experiences for children. While this conference is about interactive design for all children, there is a subsection that deals specifically for designing for the special needs population. Because I know and respect many of the organizers (and because this conferences is taking place in my hometown this year) I will be sure to attend!
- The Assistive Technology Institute (ATI) is a one-day conference for therapists, parents, educators, and persons with disabilities to explore and share what they know about assistive technology. This conference is not about autism per se, but for anyone who uses or is interested in exploring the tech side of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). It’s a small conference in Orange County, California.
- Last July, a conference called Technologies for Autism: Tools, Trends and Testimonials took place in Valencia, Spain. I learned about this conference from Autism Speaks, which partnered with Fundación Orange and Fundación Adapta to sponsor the event. While I have not heard word of a date for a second conference yet, they did call this the “1st International Conference” on their website, so I suspect this is not the last we’ve heard from them.
- The Touch Technology Applications for Children With Special Needs conference & expo happened in September of 2012 in St. Louis, and they are currently planning another one in 2013. I don’t know very much about this one, but it looks fantastic.
This list is by no means complete. Of course, there are plenty of other conferences out there about autism, and I’m sure many of them address the benefits of technology. (I found this great list of autism conferences for 2013, in case anyone is interested.) If you know of a good conference about autism and technology that I’m missing, please comment here to tell me about it!