‘Connections’ and Autism will explore connections between persons who are neurodivergent and their family, friends, schoolmates and colleagues. The event will also discuss issues related to sexual identity and intimate connections.
Should you attend? Yes, if you are:
- A neurodivergent person
- A person with neurodivergent peers, family members or friends
- An educator
- A professional in the field of autism
- Interested in intersectionality – gender, identity, and autism.
The event is also open to anyone interested in the subject or working in a related field.
The incredible line up of speakers includes leading experts in the field as well as individuals who will be presenting personal life experiences.
|09:00||Opening||VIP still to be confirmed|
|09:15||Dr Wenn Lawson||“Intersectionality: Autism, sexuality & gender”.|
|10:00||Charlene Borg (joined by Mr & Mrs O’Dwyer parents of 2 sons both of whom are on the spectrum)||The connection between families & persons on the spectrum.|
|11:00||Prof Richard Mills||SPELL framework on principles of an autism-friendly way of working|
|11:45||Dr Alistair De Gaetano||Title still to be confirmed – theme around connections throughout lifetime and any challenges faced in drive to become the successful lawyer of today.|
|12:25||Gina Gomez de la Cuesta & Jon Adams||Building connections, Brick-by-Brick: Using collaborative LEGO® play to support meaningful social opportunities for autistic children|
|14:00||Dr Ruth Moyse||‘Attending and thriving: lessons on inclusion from autistic adolescent girls who stopped attending school’|
|14:45||Dr Jacqui Ashton Smith||How the development of resilience supports social connections and life changes and vice versa|
|15:30||David Perkins||“Autism mentoring: connection and wellbeing”|
Lunch and a coffee break will be made available. Guests are requested to choose between a packed lunch constating of a ftira or salad, dessert and a bottle of water (to be eaten in the grounds) or a light lunch consisting of Pasta & dessert.
Dr Alistair de GaetanoAlistair de Gaetano has been Chairperson of Malta’s Autism Advisory Council since its inception in 2018. Aside from engaging in activities locally and abroad, the Council’s key efforts have been focused on preparing and launching ‘Respecting Diversity – Safeguarding Equity: Malta’s 2021-2030 National Autism Strategy’ in November 2021. As an autistic activist, Alistair was also involved in autism and disability-related efforts and outreach over the years, including as a co-founder of EUCAP, the European Council of Autistic People. He worked on setting up Government’s Directorate for Disability Issues (DDI), where he developed key legislation, policy and actions to reform and strengthen the Maltese disability sector. Alistair regularly participates in events abroad, as guest expert or representing Malta, including at UN and EU level. He is a warranted lawyer, having studied in Malta, Maastricht and Dublin, where he was awarded a PhD by Trinity College, after defending a dissertation on denial of rights to autistic persons.
Prof Richard Mills
Richard is currently an Associate Consultant, AT-Autism, London, and a Research Fellow in the dept of Psychology, University of Bath, He is also a visiting Professor at Taisho University, Tokyo, Japan: Senior Research Fellow and visiting Scholar, Bond University, Queensland, Australia, and an Associate lecturer, at the Tizard Centre, at the University of Kent. Richard holds other positions as a Consultant, Autism Resource Centre (ARC) Singapore; Advisor: Government of Jersey CI: and as Research Associate, Centre for Practice Innovation, Scottish Autism. Richard also has a long association and strong connection with Malta. In the early 1990’s he became an adviser to the Eden Foundation, and in more recent years the Inspire Foundation. His other activities and interests include, Expert member, National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE), the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), the Cabinet Office, London: He is an Editor of ‘Autism the International Journal of Research and Practice’ Sage, and ‘Advances in Autism’ Emerald. He is a member of the Westminster Autism Commission and a trustee the John and Lorna Wing Foundation. For twenty-five years Richard was with the National Autistic Society, London, UK, as Director of Services, and later Director of Research, a joint appointment with Research Autism, London. His current research and practice interests are in programme and service evaluation, autism and mental health, forensic issues, in particular cybercrime, and in behaviours of concern- the Synergy programme. He is a lead on the SPELL framework programme in conjunction with the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent. He has authored numerous scientific articles.
David set up AS Mentoring (ASM) in mid-2013 to provide specialist support to people with autism and other neurodiverse conditions, with a primary focus on enabling social inclusion through employment. ASM employs 20 or so staff and currently supports over 150 individuals across a range of programmes. ASM also works with employers including in the private sector, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Willis Group; and in the public sector the NHS, the Bank of England and the Cabinet Office. Before leaving to set up ASM, David spent seven years running the National Autistic Society’s specialist employment service Prospects. He has spent most of his working life in the voluntary sector, and prior to his work at the NAS ran a group of nine specialist adventure play and respite care centres in London which supported some 1200 disabled children and their families (around 30% of these kids were autistic).
Dr Wenn Lawson
Dr. Wenn is an autistic researcher (PDAer), has 3 autistic offspring and 3 autistic granddaughters. Wenn is also a lecturer, psychologist, advocate, and poet, sharing his experiences for almost 3 decades. Wenn is published internationally, is an Associate Researcher with Curtin University (WA), and Macquarie University, NSW; Tutor Practitioner with Birmingham University (UK), a Board member for Autism in Adulthood, and the Australian Research Council, Ambassador for I CAN (Autistic Youth Advocacy) has a Youtube channel and home page. In 2008 he won 4th. place as Victorian Australian of The Year, in 2017 he presented to the United Nations on matters of Autism and ageing & in 2021 he won the Lesley Hall, disability leadership life time achievement award. Wenn is passionate about all things LGBTQIA+ and autism… www.wennlawson.com
Dr Jacqui Ashton SmithJacqui is an experienced educationalist and trainer with 40 years of experience in the field of autism, education and leadership. Her education experience ranges from specialist teaching to Principalships and Education Operations management to developing and opening new schools and Directorships for a national UK charity. She is currently an Independent Consultant and also develops and delivers training modules for an EU training provider. She has delivered a wide range of training nationally and internationally, presented at major conferences world wide and currently her special interests are the identification and education of girls and women on the autism spectrum, Neurodiversity and Leadership.
Charlene Borg has been working with Inspire since 1998. She moved through different roles and responsibilities, and in 2011 she started leading the Family Relations Department. Charlene has a bachelor’s degree in Inclusion and Special Educational Needs and a Masters in Systemic Family Psychotherapy, working both with individuals and families. Her belief is that the relationships a person is surrounded by, is a powerful indicator of positive outcomes. With this in mind, she does her utmost to provide Inspire families with a variety of services not only aimed to support and educate, but to also empower the building of strong relationships between the families that will accompany them throughout their journey as caregivers of an autistic individual. Charlene has a special interest in couple relationships and her master’s dissertation was an in-depth study of the couple relationship of parents of an autistic child; the relationship between the disability, the couple dynamics and the life cycle of romantic love.
Gina Gomez de la Cuesta
Gina founded Play Included C.I.C. in 2018. As one of the Directors, Gina has developed training and resources in the Brick-by-BrickTM programme, a learning through play-based concept involving collaborative LEGO® play for children who need extra support with social communication, such as children on the autism spectrum. As a clinical psychologist, Gina has specialised in autism and child and adolescent mental health and is dedicated to supporting young people’s wellbeing and development through play and positive relationships. She continues to work as a practitioner as well as being involved in academic research. Gina lives in a small village just outside Cambridge in the UK with her family. She loves playing with her two children, singing, cooking and travelling to Spain where her husband is from. She would like to do more gardening and pilates, but she also likes vegging out watching Netflix!
Jon is both a contemporary Artist, working cross-platform, in image, poetry, sound, performance, and spoken word, a Neurodivergent advocate and researcher. He makes a variety of work in many differing media often referencing synaesthesia, autism, dyslexia, autobiography, science, and hidden metaphor resulting in unique visual perspectives of systemizing history, time, and place.
He’s shown in galleries such as Royal Academy, Tate Modern and been commissioned by many arts and science organisations including projects for Parliament, London 2012 and on stage. He advocates for the rights of Neurodivergent people to fully access the arts, funding, health care and relevant research.