Autism Ideation & Hackathon

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Microsoft Reactor

70 Worship Street



United Kingdom

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Interested in tech for good? Have ideas on how digital solutions could support those impacted by autism? Autistic yourself or just want to give something back? Love problem solving and finding creative solutions to interesting problems? Come and join us at Microsoft’s brand new Reactor and spend the weekend finding amazing solutions to four core challenges.

Never been to a hackathon? Not a developer? Don’t really know anything about autism? It really doesn’t matter! We believe that the best solutions come from bringing diverse groups of people together, so if you’re interested please come along and be part of exploring this exciting area.

On the diversity point, if please let us know if there's anything you need. There's lots of information below on the agenda for the weekend and on the venue (all very accessible), but if there's anything else, from equipment, to dietary requirements, please just drop us a note.


CHALLENGE 1: Concentration - how can we help autistic children to focus their attention?

Autistic children can find it particularly hard to concentrate on activities that don’t interest them – for example, tasks that involve shared attention (like reading a book with a parent or teacher), turn-taking games, or even walking safely across the road. They may also find it hard to switch attention between different stimuli or demands. Conversely, they often have the ability to focus intently and for prolonged periods on activities that do interest them - for example, a child who enjoys Minecraft might become totally absorbed in extending their world for hours at a time. Therefore, how can we ensure that the tasks we are expecting autistic children to work on are meaningful, relevant and important for their quality of life? How can we make acquiring necessary life skills as engaging for autistic minds as possible? And how can we harness autistic superfocus, for the benefit of the child and others?

CHALLENGE 2: Emotional cues - how can we help autistic children and adults to recognise emotional cues in near-real time?

Autistic people often have trouble identifying and responding to other people’s emotions in a ‘neurotypical’ way. Their approach may be unconventional and appear one-sided. This reflects their difficulty with ‘cognitive empathy’ – the ability to read facial expressions, tone of voice and other non-verbal cues in the subtle, fast-moving and sophisticated way that is expected. They may appear insensitive or unusual as a result, despite often having a strong instinctive sense of how others are feeling (‘affective empathy’). Their neurotypical communication partners also find it hard to empathise with the autistic person’s experience and style of communication. This can lead to confusion and misunderstanding on both sides. This is known as the ‘double empathy’ problem. Therefore, how can we help autistic and non-autistic people to bridge their communication gaps?

CHALLENGE 3: Anxiety - how can we help autistic children and adults to manage their anxiety?

Anxiety is a real issue for many autistic individuals. It can occur for a range of reasons - unexpected changes, new social situations, sensory processing issues, among others. Autistic people vary in their ability to cope with anxiety. Sometimes it is possible to remove triggers and therefore reduce anxiety; at other times anxiety can lead to a variety of psychological and physical symptoms (e.g. difficulty concentrating, thinking persistently about the worst outcome, difficulty sleeping, meltdowns, shutdowns or regressions, physical pain and exhaustion). Therefore, how can we help autistic people to manage situations in a way that gives them control over their anxiety and that ultimately improves their well-being?

CHALLENGE 4: Sleep - how can we help autistic children to sleep better?

Many people have sleep issues but for autistic children, sleeping is often particularly problematic. Irregular and insufficient sleep can result in daytime sleepiness, learning problems and behavioural issues such as hyperactivity, inattentiveness and behaviour that concerns their parents and carers - not to mention the indirect impact on the sleep of other family members. Therefore, how can we help autistic children to establish healthy sleep patterns, including going to sleep, staying asleep, waking at an appropriate time, and remaining alert during the day?



0930: registration

0945: welcome

1000: the challenges

1030: find your team

1100: start exploring, ideating and hacking

1230: buffet lunch

1330: exploring, ideating and hacking

1500: tea and cakes

1530: exploring, ideating and hacking

1730: drinks & socialising

1830: doors close for the evening


0930: doors open

1000: exploring, ideating and hacking

1300: lunch & presentation preparation

1400: regroup for team presentations

1600: wrap up & beers

1630: doors close for the weekend


Do I need to come for both days? Ideally, yes.

Do I need to be a coder? No! All you need is a curious mind and bags of energy.

Are tickets free? Do you give travel expenses? This is a free event… but places are limited so you need to register. Unfortunately we can’t cover travel expenses this time around.

What if I’ve never been to this kind of thing before? Perfect. Come and see what all the fuss is about.

Do I have to come with a team? No! We will help you find a great team.

What is the minimum age of the participant? 18

Should I bring a laptop? Yes. Even if you’re not coding it's a good idea to bring some sort of internet-enabled device.

Can we sleep over? No. Sleep is important. We will close the doors at 1830 on Saturday and ask you to come back refreshed and raring to go on Sunday at 0930.

Who owns the IP associated with the event? All intellectual property rights in the ideas and applications of a participant shall remain owned by, and shall vest in, the participant who creates them.

See our website and our terms and conditions for more details.

For more information and even a 360 degree tour of the venue, see here.

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Microsoft Reactor

70 Worship Street



United Kingdom

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