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Attending a Conference or Workshop

An adult raises their hand at a conference.

Photo by Christina Morillo via Pexels

For Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Overview

Attending a conference is a great way to learn more about a specific topic, and meet other people who also have an interest in that topic. Here are some things you should know before you go:

  1. Make sure you have completed the registration process before going to the conference. Most conferences re-quire you to register and sometimes pay a conference fee, in advance. When you preregister, be sure to tell the registration coordinator about any accommodations you may need (e.g., food allergies, seating in a certain part of the room, etc.).
  2. Go to the registration table when you arrive to let the organizers know you are there. You may receive a schedule for the conference, a name tag so people know you are with the conference, and any special instructions you may need for the conference. You might also receive a meal ticket. This is often a good place to discuss any accommodations you may need for the conference. The registration table is usually near the front entrance of the building but if you can’t find it, ask one of the building staff with a name tag to help you find it.
  3. The registration table is also a great place to go if you have a question or can’t find a room you are looking for. The person behind the table will be able to answer your question or find someone who can if they don’t know.
  4. Be sure to wear your name tag for the entire conference.
  5. Read the schedule to see where you should be at what times. If there is more than one session for a time block, you can pick which one you would like to hear the most and go to that one.
  6. Before your first session starts, locate the rooms where the sessions you want to go to are being held, if there is enough time. This can help you feel more comfortable about where you are going.
  7. Go to your first session a few minutes before it starts and sit in a seat that you like. If you think you may need to get up and leave the room to take breaks, consider sitting closer to the back of the room, or on the end of a row, so your movement does not distract the rest of the people in the room.
  8. While the presenter is speaking write down any questions you may have about the presentation.
  9. When the presenter is finished speaking or asks for questions, you can take this time to ask your questions by raising your hand and waiting to be called on by the presenter. You might only be able to ask one question, because others in the room need a chance to ask their questions too.
  10. If you don’t get all of your questions answered during your session, ask the presenter if you can email or call him/her another day to finish asking your questions.
  11. The time between sessions is a good time to use the restroom if you need to.
  12. During breaks, you can also try to start a conversation with someone who is also attending the conference. A good conversation starter is, “What session did you go to? What did you learn that was interesting?” Then share something you learned from the session you went to.
  13. Many conferences provide food and drinks as part of the event, and usually there is no extra cost to enjoy them.
  14. Be sure to fill out any feedback forms they may request of you. Often this is required as proof of attendance or to receive any credits for attending the conference.
  15. Remember, if you have any questions, ask the people behind the registration table to help you.
  16. Enjoy the conference!

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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or info@PAautism.org. ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.