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Asia Pacific Autism Conference: Inclusion of People on the Spectrum Across the Lifespan

Oct 9 2017 3:00 PM

The fifth Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) 2017 was hosted in Darling Harbor, Sydney in September. People on the autism spectrum, family members, practitioners, researchers and policy makers from across Australia and around the world were all welcomed to the conference to share stories, listen to and present on lived experience,  research,  innovative therapies and supports.   

‘Growing with Autism’ was the conference theme, reflecting the shift in autism research and practice to look beyond the early childhood and school years and focus on the whole lifespan for people on the spectrum. The theme also reflected on our growing understanding of autism as we move to a strengths based approach and the necessary inclusion of people on the spectrum in society.

The conference opened with an energetic, insightful, and motivating presentation by the humorous Peter Vermeulen from Belgium. Peter shared a new perspective of shifting from neurodiversity to ‘neuroharmony’ to truly understand what ‘successful outcomes’ and the important definition of happiness means for individuals on the spectrum, that society can so often overlook. APAC attendees were also fortunate to see and learn from the inspirational likes of Dr. Barry Prizant, Professor Samuel Odom and Associate Professor Stephen Shore from the USA.

Autism SA attendees

Autism SA is a recognised leader for the provision of specialised consulting and services to people on the autism spectrum, their families and the broader community. We enable opportunities for employees to undertake professional development. This is to ensure the latest research and knowledge inform our practice to work with every individual on the spectrum to realise their potential and help them achieve their life goals.

Presentations covered education, person centred approaches, diagnosis, working with strengths and inclusion in school and therapeutic settings. 

“I am amazed, truly inspired and fuelled with passion to be a part of the autism community and to see the many great individuals working together to ensure acceptance and inclusion always remain pillars of our society for individuals on the spectrum” said Adam, Autism SA’s School Facilitator and Person Centred Project Manager who attended the conference. “I am fortunate and grateful with the opportunity I have every day to be a part of the life journey of many wonderful individuals on the spectrum. It is truly inspiring to see each individual realise their potential, build on their already incredible achievements, overcome challenges, build relationships and mostly important be happy in the person they want to be.” 

Autism SA also participated in the APAC conference with the CEO Jenny Karavolos as session chair twice and Greg, ASD Advisor, (pictured) presenting “Adapting acceptance and commitment therapy for people on the Autism Spectrum”. 

South Australian representatives

Autism SA would like to recognise and congratulate the South Australian talent pool at APAC:

  • Kathryn Annear: who received the Asia Specific Autism Award for her contribution to the autism community
  • The inspirational young individuals from South Australia who were announced as Autism Future Leaders;
    • Jon Martin, JM Consulting: elected Young Future Leaders’ steering committee member;
    • Dr Emma Goodall, member of the autism community: as session chair and for her engaging and perceptive presentation “ Dinner, dating and relationships – being safe and being sexual”
    • Ian Ward: for his extremely moving and thought provoking presentation “Mental health and the involvement of dad with children on the autism spectrum”
    • Madison Ward: for her inspiring and insightful presentation of “Guess What I’m Normal Too”
    • Vanessa Alexander, Positive Partnerships: for her thoroughly informative and appealing presentation  “Whole school professional learning  to support students on the autism spectrum”
    • Dr Julie McMillan (Flinders University/ Autism SA Director) and Associate Professor Kerry Bissaker, Flinders University for their pertinent and interesting presentation “School connectedness: are schools in SA addressing the need?”

What is APAC?

The Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) is held every two years and is convened by the Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders. In 2013, Autism SA hosted this incredible event bringing together the international Autism community to explore and present on the conference theme “True Colours” inspiring us to reveal, encourage and support the collective skills, talents and abilities of all of us that are part of the autism community.

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