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15 Nov '19

Autism Manchester 2019

Posted by Carina Hamilton in News

Opening Manchester.jpg
Autism Manchester 2019 was another fantastic CPD event bursting with knowledge updates, keynote speakers and practical strategies! It is always nice to see delegates not only wanting to update their knowledge but also make a difference to the children and young people they support with Autism.

Our superb line up of speakers did not disappoint! Below are some highlights and key take-home messages from the conference:

Professor Rita Jordan Ph.D. OBE: “Strategies for Teaching Students with ASD and Supporting Inclusion”

Rita opened the conference and provided super knowledgeable updates. She spoke on ‘What is special about ASD’ and the needs of Autism children and young people. Her presentation went on to explore how these needs translate to a classroom environment, stating:

“Understanding is Key!”

It is important for teachers to understand the ways in which children and young people with Autism process aspects of daily life and be equipped with the knowledge of both needs and strategies to make classroom life easier for them. Rita gave 5 strategies teachers can apply in the classroom to better support children with ASD.

1. Teaching to Cope – Teach relaxation and social understanding
2. Train for Sensory Panic
3. Use of Learning Support Assistants – Care from a distance and check, do not create ‘learned helplessness’
4. Teaching Adaptions - Create visual instructions and lists for meaning. Ensure you allow time to explore their interests.
5. Managing Democracy


Geoff Evans: “The Impact of Sensory Differences on Behaviour which Challenges”

Geoff Evans, International Trainer and Consultant in Autism, gave an inspirational and very down to earth talk on the ways our senses affect people with Autism. Some of Geoff’s golden nuggets of information:

“If you experience the world differently to others, you will think, live and behave differently”

“Recognise my differences with the intensity of my senses”

Geoff not only gave our delegates the understanding of sensory difficulties but also the ways they can make sensory adjustments both at home and in a school environment. Practical Strategies:

· Use a pop-up tent in the corner of a room to provide sanctuary
· If concentration is affected by noise, noise reduction headphones or earplugs could be used
· Use dimmer switches for lighting
· In circle time, provide squares for each child when sitting on the floor to keep them in their own space
· If a child is easily distracted, make sure his seat is away from doorways or windows
· Use alternative seating equipment; sit on therapy balls, stools, bean bag chairs

Dr Martin Hanbury: “Anxiety, Stress and Pressure: Autism as a Coping Mechanism”

Executive Headteacher at Chatsworth Multi-Academy Trust, Dr. Martin Hanbury explored the ways we might construe autism as a coping mechanism which enables people to address the bewildering and confusing world they experience. Martin presented ways we can assess the impact and response individuals have too stress and find out what makes them HAPPY!

• Think of some questions you might ask to help you begin to better understand the impact of stress on the person you are working with
• Consider the domains you are thinking of focusing on
• Consider the ‘direction of travel’ which would be best for the person
• Remember it’s not always the same direction of travel
• Draft some ideas for interventions which focus on an evidence-based understanding of the person’s needs

Kedleston Group: “Birds of Prey, Therapeutic Caine’s and Everything Dinosaur Case Study with High Peak School”

We were first introduced to ‘Falconry as an intervention’ and how the interactions with these birds allows children with Autism to:

· Build Trust and Confidence
· Understand Body Language
· Be more Comfortable with teamwork
· Deal positively with Changing Environments
· Face their Fears

The adoption of this therapy technique has not only made for extremely happy children, it has also allowed them to build skills and confidence for their future!

“In general, therapy activities involving animals are useful for improving social interaction” - Temple Grandin

We also heard about ‘Fozzy’ too! Fozzy is a therapy dog, who offered support to 11-year-old John in his transition to a new, ASC specific school. Fozzy gave John comfort on that first day of school, gave him the opportunity to engage with his other classmates and use his furry friend to make new friends of his own.


Professor Adam Ockelford: “Music, Language & Autism”

Our final speaker of the day, Professor Adam Ockelford, gave an inspiring talk on the impact that autism can have on the relationship between music and language in the brain and demonstrated the power of music as a tool for communication for all. Adam shared with us a set of videos of children who have used music as a bridge to communication and explained the importance of engaging children in music.

“We can all engage children in musical activities and help them off their Ipads too!”

This powerful presentation was a perfect end to a great day of learning!

MedicaCPD would like to thank everyone who helped make ‘Autism Manchester 2019’ such a fantastic learning day: our speakers, Prof. Rita Jordan, Geoff Evans, Dr Martin Hanbury, and Prof. Adam Ockelford; The Kedelston Group; event partners Salford City Council, Chatsworth Futures and Jim Taylor: Knows Autism - and all our wonderful delegates for attending!

Forthcoming Event:
The Annual Autism Conference 2020: with Keynote Speaker Brenda Smith Myles
A One Day Conference
Friday 28th February, Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor

Why you can’t miss this event:

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Twitter: @MedicaCPD

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