Reflections on Budapest
Our Director of Development, Charlene Tait, recently attended the Autism Europe Conference in Budapest, here she reflects on what she learned.
Attending conferences can sometimes be a bit of a hit or miss. When you have worked in the field for a long time it can be a challenge to find something that is new and inspiring. However in autism there is always much to learn and there is no shortage of inspirational thinkers, practitioners and of course people who are on the spectrum who are generous enough to share their personal perspectives.
The Autism Europe congress took place in beautiful Budapest this year. First note to self was a promise to return and spend more time taking in all that the city has to offer.
In terms of the conference programme what was striking was the range of topics and issues that were addressed over the three days - neuroscience, wellbeing, quality of life, love, ageing, happiness, therapeutic approaches and family support to name but a few. This in itself goes some way to highlighting the complexitites of autism and all the different facets of life that it can affect. At the same time though, the topics are all areas that each and every one of us can relate to thus also highlight the similarities between those with autism and those without, rather than purely the differences. For me, that is refreshing.
The conference also demonstrated how far our understanding and thinking has developed in a relatively short period of time. I am not naive enough to think that people with autism are not met still with misunderstanding and prejudice in their daily lives. However, conferences like this give a real sense of a movement for change; thinking is so much more aspirational and expectations are, quite rightly, high.
In this context, it is humbling to see nations who are not as progressive as us but who want to be invovled in current thinking and are demanding change in their own cultures and service structures. That has got to be a great thing.