APAC finished this time last week and I have been thinking about the conference. At Auckland airport on my way home I met another delegate who said they wished there had been more practical strategy workshops for teachers, caregivers and families of those on the spectrum. Perhaps at the next APAC they could have a stream that was more explicitly about this, as this delegate had missed some good tips presented in the lived experience stream.
The young (under 30) future leaders had a fantastic time, as one of their mentors it was wonderful to see their enthusiasm for (self) advocacy and a desire to dream big dreams and achieve their goals. The conference organisers had put a lot of thought into how to ensure access and comfort for delegates and speakers on the spectrum and this was appreciated greatly by many.
I personally would have liked to see autistic spectrum adults represented on the boards of the large research groups as our insights would help to ensure research results are interpreted meaningfully as well as hopefully ensuring that the effectiveness of research on the lives of both children and adults on the spectrum is a key driver for researchers.
Hearing from people around Asia about the types of autism services available (or not) was fascinating and I am going to be keeping in touch with a service provider in Bangladesh to try and develop educational services that are minimal cost with resources that can be made locally. The difference between countries was spectacular, although the biggest differences are between private providers and voluntary service providers.
The need for autistic spectrum adults and young people to act as role models for not just spectrum children in developing countries but their teachers and families was made clear. Although a request was made for this to happen, the countries themselves are not able to fund this, nor are many spectrum adults. If they are, they may find it difficult to get the time off work to go. It occurs to me that a DVD could be put together with the stories of many autistic spectrum adults, young people and children. This could showcase the different talents and choices that others have made, demonstrating what could be possible. Using phone and iPad cameras etc and basic editing this could be created for a minimal cost and distributed via the Internet or disc.
It was great to meet and talk with Stephen Shore, Ari Ne’eman, Katherine Annear and many other spectrum adults and to hear about the things they are doing to help ensure autistic potential is realised for an increasing number of people around the world.
Following on from this I had the pleasure of doing a presentation for some educators on understanding the autistic brain and the behaviours of spectrum children. These adults were so keen to tell me they saw so much potential in the children they were working with, that I was able to feel confident that they would facilitate the achievement of those children’s potential.