Dr. Grandin didn't talk until she was three and a half years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping, and humming. In 1950, she was diagnosed with autism and her parents were told she should be institutionalised. She tells her story of 'groping her way from the far side of darkness' in her book Emergence: Labeled Autistic, a book which stunned the world because, until its publication, most professionals and parents assumed that an autism diagnosis was virtually a death sentence to achievement or productivity in life. Dr. Grandin has become a prominent author and speaker on the subject of autism because 'I have read enough to know that there are still many parents, and yes, professionals too, who believe that 'once autistic, always autistic.' This dictum has meant sad and sorry lives for many children diagnosed, as I was in early life, as autistic. To these people, it is incomprehensible that the characteristics of autism can be modified and controlled. However, I feel strongly that I am living proof that they can'.
Martin Wren - CEO Nova Employment
Since 1987 Martin Wren has assisted people with disabilities to access ‘open employment’ – that’s work in the same settings as everybody else and including the same wages and conditions. Martin clearly sees work as life defining and, since what you ‘do’ is often used as a measure of personal worth, getting the best possible job has life changing implications.
More than 10,000 people have passed through the doors of NOVA Employment, the Australian Disability Employment Service for which Martin is Chief Executive Officer. NOVA has grown to a large organisation with 17 offices spread across Sydney NSW. While admitting to not remembering each story the collective experience Martin brings to his role gives a broad perspective to the history and development of vocational programs for people with disability.
Dr Julie Petersen - Clinical Psychologist
Dr Julie Peterson is a Clinical Psychologist, qualified relationship therapist and sexologist. Julie is a leading expert in childhood, adolescent and adult Development Disorders, and is the Founder and Clinic Director of Embracing the Other Half Psychology Clinic. She specialises in the assessment and treatment of individuals, couples and families who have Developmental Disorders, including Autism Spectrum Disorders and Asperger’s Syndrome, and complex relationship concerns. Julie is also the Founder of Embracing the Difference Foundation, a Health Promotion Charity established to improve the lives of individuals with Developmental Disorders, and their families, friends and work colleagues. Among the programs created by the Foundation are programs for Human Resources Staff and Managers of individuals with Developmental Disorders and also programs to assist individuals with Developmental Disorders to successfully transition from school to the workplace.
Matthew Bennett – Researcher
Matthew Bennett combines his PhD research on adults with Asperger syndrome with his own personal experiences with Asperger syndrome in the South Australian workforce. This presentation has two key messages. Firstly, employing people with Asperger syndrome is a complex process which requires ongoing assistance from many stakeholders. However, in many circumstances the rewards outweigh the challenges to recruitment. Secondly, employees with Asperger syndrome, their family and friends, employers, disability service providers, the Australian Public Service (APS), and the Federal Government of Australia must all work together in order to help adults with Asperger syndrome find and maintain suitable employment.
Berinda Karp - Mount Druitt TAFE
Berinda Karp is a Teacher/Consultant for Students with Disability at Mount Druitt TAFE in the Western Sydney Institute. She services students with Intellectual Disability, Learning Disability and those on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Berinda has held this substantive position for nearly 20 years and has four degrees including a Masters in Education majoring in Special Education. She is currently enrolled for a PhD with her thesis topic being the transition of young adults on the Autism spectrum from School to post school education and training.
Martin Wren & Joanne Lee Interview
Joanne Lee is the mother of 3 children. Joanne has 2 boys, Daniel (14 yrs) who has Autism with a moderate learning delay and Jayden (12yrs) who has Aspergers. Her third child Kara (9 yrs) does not have Autism. Joanne shares her experience as a mum and the challenges she has faced with parenting 2 children on the spectrum. She talks about her journey of the the boys early years and the difficulties she faced with their challenging behaviours. Joanne discusses the very emotional impact that the boys diagnosis' had on her personally. Her wish is that by sharing her story that it gives parents who have a child on the spectrum hope and the general public more awareness.
Tim Fischer AC
Tim Fischer AC is an Australian former politician. He served as Deputy Prime Minister in the Howard Government from 1996 to 1999. He retired from Parliament in 2001. Since leaving Federal Politics he has taken on a wide range of roles and responsibilities such as: Chairman of Tourism Australia, National Chairman of the Flying Doctor Service, Co-Chair for rural section of the Australian 20/20 Summit and the resident Ambassador to the Holy See in Rome. Tim was also awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2005.
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