The last two academic years have presented unprecedented challenges for autistic students, families, and educators in Ireland, Scotland, and indeed, across the world. A loss of structure and routine, changed environments, new rules, remote learning, and a universal sense of anxiety are just some of the obstacles which were challenging for all young people but in many instances presented unique barriers for autistic students.
As we look to a new, brighter school year ahead, many will ask what steps can be taken to support autistic young people re-connect with learning, this should only be the start of the conversation, however. As a new normal emerges globally, we must take the opportunity to explore how we can re-imagine our education systems to be truly inclusive of autistic students. So much of what we once took for granted, from classroom layout to how we teach and learn has now been unfixed and this presents an opportunity to redefine what it means to be an inclusive school community and education system. As schools open this August/September, we explore the simple but powerful question "Can you teach me as I am?" through the prism of people, place, and policy within the Irish and Scottish education system. We will hear directly from autistic students and educators, parents and international thought leaders on how our schools can deliver an empowering, supportive and safe learning environment for all students.
This webinar is not to be missed for anyone with an interest in the future of autism-friendly, inclusive education.
Target Audience: Education staff including: head teachers, teachers, policy makers and autistic people and their families
About the speakers
Gary Cooper has been Chief Executive of Middletown Centre for Autism since April 2007. The Centre was established in 2007 and is funded by the two Departments of Education in Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. Prior to his appointment Gary worked as Principal of a school which had a number of specialist units catering for children who had a confirmed diagnosis of autism. The school also had developed an outreach support service for children with speech, language and communication difficulties.
Gary has also served on a number of Special School Management Boards. He currently served as an Editorial Board member of the National Autistic Society as well as a member of the Judging Panel of the annual Professional Awards. In 2017 Gary was invested with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of his services to children with special educational needs.
Adam Harris is the Founder and CEO of AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity. Adam founded the organisation based on his own experiences growing up on the autism spectrum.
A Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awardee, Adam is a frequent contributor to media and conferences in Ireland and overseas. From Greystones in Co Wicklow, Adam was appointed to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission in July 2020.
Charlene Tait has worked in the field of autism for thirty years. In that time she has been engaged in direct practice and service development. She was lecturer and Course Director in Postgraduate Autism studies at the University of Strathclyde and has been involved in a number of national strategic initiatives. Charlene’s time in autism began in 1990 with Scottish Autism (then Scottish Society for Autistic Children), she returned to the organisation in 2011 to take up the post of Director of Development and is now Deputy CEO.
Her main areas of interest are in family support and enabling quality of life and quality lifestyles for people across the autism spectrum.
Maja is an autistic psychologist, speaker, self-advocate and author. She has worked in autism communication for more than a decade, primarily as a speaker at conferences, parent groups and local networking groups for people with Autism Spectrum Conditions. During this time, she has written articles and blogs regarding her experience living with Asperger’s. Maja has worked closely with autism experts Dr. Tony Attwood and Kirsten Callesen for many years, gaining clinical experience and helping to run social groups for teenage girls with ASD.
In 2016 she published her first book, What Your Child With Asperger’s Wants You To Know, combining her personal and professional knowledge to educate and advise parents on the inner life of their children.
Magda Mostafa is an architect, scholar and educator focusing on autism and inclusive design. She is currently an Associate Professor of Design at the American University in Cairo and practicing architect.
Through her Cairo-based practice, Progressive Architects she specializes in autism inclusive design and is the author of the Autism ASPECTSS design guidelines, the world’s first research-based design framework for autism worldwide. Information about her work can be found here.
She was recently selected to develop the world’s first Autism Friendly University Design guide at Dublin City University, which will be published in 2021, where her ASPECTSS Index is expanded to urban scales of higher education formal and informal learning spaces. The published guide can be found here. Her work was also selected for inclusion in the exhibit Time/Space/Existence at the European Cultural Center as part of the 2021 Venice Architectural Biennale. A preview of that work can be found here.
Dr Rebecca Wood is a Senior Lecturer in Special Education at the University of East London and Principal Investigator of the Autistic School Staff Project (ASSP), funded by the John and Lorna Wing Foundation. She completed her PhD at the University of Birmingham, where she was also Project Manager of the Transform Autism Education project which was funded by the European Commission. Rebecca subsequently completed an ESRC postdoctoral Fellowship at King’s College London. Her book, Inclusive Education for Autistic Children, is published by Jessica Kingsley and her next book, an edited compilation based on the ASSP, will be published in 2022. Rebecca can be found on Twitter @thewoodbug.
Elaine began teaching in the mid-eighties. She has worked across a variety of settings in both Mainstream and Special Education. She has achieved Post Graduate Diplomas in Special Education and ICT in Education. She has organised and coordinated weekly dyslexia workshops for the Dyslexia Association of Ireland.
Identified as autistic three years ago, Elaine is determined to challenge autistic myths and stereotypes, particularly within education. Burnout led to an early retirement for Elaine, however she is now hoping to pursue her passion for autistic voice in Continued Professional Development as part of a Professional Doctorate in Education.
Elaine plays a key role in promoting autism acceptance in her local area, Clonakilty, which has been accredited by AsIAm as Ireland’s first Autism Friendly Town.
Kate is a parent and Disability/Equalities rights campaigner. Her son is severely autistic and has learning disabilities. Kate's experience of trying to get appropriate education and care in Aberdeenshire has been so brutal that she founded a families support and advocacy group called ‘Because We Matter’.
This came out of a conversation with a few other people in the North East who shared their traumatic experience. One parent said ‘they treat us as if we just don’t matter’...hence the name.
It is now a rapidly-growing, widespread support network with connections to many families and other third sector organisations across Scotland.
It remains largely ‘underground’ as many of their families are concerned about openly challenging local authorities. Kate's biggest passion remains trying to get some degree of accountability, into local government, for service users.
Follow Because We Matter on Twitter
Ciara Jones is a mother of 3 children, Gavin 11, Darragh 7, Orlagh 6 and is step Mam to Michael 29. Three years ago Ciara took a career break to become Gavin’s carer. Gavin is autistic. Throughout this time Ciara has become more and more involved in advocating for their autism community. She had been using social media through her Facebook page ‘Reaching out to Autism’ to help people, as well as run fundraising events and also to bring information and support to families and educators.
Last year Ciara founded the ‘Autism Support Hub’ and along with 3 other Mam’s they run a weekly support group to help parents on their autism journey. Over the last 5 years Ciara and Michael have been fundraising and are just about to pass €170k. Together they have founded, The Sparkle for Autism Ball, their Annual ‘5k Run for Autism' which sees hundreds of families come together, and also their annual parachute jump.
Ciara's aim as an advocate is to work towards no one feeling alone, left out or left behind on their autism journey. To furnish parents with as much information and empower them so they know what they and their child is entitled to.
How to book
On Demand Webinar
Date: 9th September 2021
Location: Online | Zoom
Please email any queries to email@example.com