Five great take-aways & some of our highlights from Temple Talks Autism 2019
Posted by Carolyn in News
Here in the Medica CPD office, our heads are still spinning from the flat-out amazing day that was Temple Talks Autism 2019! With 600+ educators, health and social care professionals and parents attending, this has been one of our most popular ever CPD events.
Here are just some of the take-home messages, highlights and photos from the conference below:
1. Dr Temple Grandin: “Too many kids become their labels and never get to do the fun stuff”
Whether signing books and inspiring delegates face-to-face throughout the day, or asserting her advice and sharing her life-lessons from the stage, Temple was an absolute wonder.
We couldn’t possibly cover everything Temple had to say on topics as far-ranging as education for children and young people with ASD conditions, the world of work and autism, sensory processing and the autistic mind, but here are some of the key ideas from Temple’s three sessions at the conference:
People with autism learn differently
Temple laid out some of the foundation principles of supporting autistic pupils. These include continuous gradual stretching to gain new skills, an emphasis on hands-on activities, and teaching how to take turns – be it in a board game or a conversation. Early educational programs for non-verbal children are also essential.
Stretching their comfort zone is a positive thing
As Temple puts it, for many young autistic people, a lot of improvements can be observed by “filling up [their] database”, i.e. increasing the number of concepts and experiences they are familiar with. There are many ways to do this, for example: “Put business and science magazines in the school library”, or asking them to undertake tasks like shopping or ordering food.
Jobs can be crucial in an autistic person’s development
Temple on jobs: “Learning work skills needs to start when kids are eleven. It can be a volunteer job at a church or walking dogs for the neighbors. They should get summer jobs as soon as they are of legal age. Teaching work skills young creates a gradual transition from school to work.”
Find the back door
Although some companies are working on it (more on that later), interview processes can be a nightmare for autistic applicants. Temple’s advice: “find the back door”. If your work is good enough and you can get it to decision makers – just as she did with her animal equipment designs in the 50s and 60s – you can sometimes bypass interviews altogether.
2. Anita Morris and her feathered friend: improving the mental health and wellbeing of autistic individuals
Temple is a tough act to follow, but Anita Morris of social enterprise Hack Back had a secret weapon in the form of Axel, her owl!
While Axel charmed the crowd with his birdy ways, Anita presented an engaging overview of the work she has done using falconry to help get autistic children grow more comfortable with concepts like unpredictability, body language and trust, increasing their self-esteem and independence.
Anita is working on a PhD, part of which will involve creating materials that will make it possible for other organisations to follow her successful model – follow Hack Back and keep your eyes peeled!
3. JPMorgan Chase & Co.: recruiting more autistic people is win-win
As head of Autism at Work and Employee Accessibility programmes, James R. Mahoney spends his time at JPMorgan Chase & Co. driving recruitment of autistic people in areas like engineering and data processing, as well as other fields that make the most of the richness of the autistic spectrum.
This is no purely altruistic charity-case, more a symbiotic relationship that benefits the employer as much as the employee. Mahoney was at pains to stress – they don’t go around creating specific jobs for autistic people. What they are doing is removing the barriers: working through all stages of their recruitment process from interview to hire, they are making sure that autistic people have a clear path to demonstrate their talents.
Internal promotion and progression for autistic staff within JPMorgan is now actually at a higher rate than the staff as as a whole – showing the way for other big companies across the world. Check out their Autism at Work video!
4. Autism-friendly yoga: get active and think outside the box
Whilst many flocked to lunch, others stayed back in the main hall and got a chance to chill and join in with a practical session of yoga with Donna Nelson and Lindsey Porter of YogaNuU.
Donna and Lindsey have both worked in the corporate sector for over twenty years and now share the benefits of yoga including sessions to children with autism and ADHD.
Similar to Dr Grandin’s own hug machine (which she invented to relieve the over-sensitivity associated with her own autism), this special session was designed to demonstrate the power of breathing and the effect on the vagus nerve, which is highly beneficial to autistic people – as well as giving our delegates a bit of mid-conference relaxation!
5. Adam and Derek: develop the strengths to find something amazing
In arguably the most moving presentation of the day, Derek Paravicini took to the stage with his mentor Professor Adam Ockleford, sat at the baby grand piano and began to play.
Derek lost his sight at birth, and was soon diagnosed with severe learning difficulties and autism.
Now, he’s an international concert pianist, who’s gigged at venues from Ronnie Scott’s famous London jazz club to Buckingham Palace. Derek not only has perfect pitch, but can also transpose songs into different keys on the fly, and play requested material even after hearing just a snippet of a song – all skills he demonstrated at Temple Talks Autism!
The crowd instantly took Derek to heart, marvelling at his mash-up of Bohemian Rhapsody and The Beatles and even grooving to a tune Derek created especially for the day! Under the wing of Prof. Ockleford, Derek shows the power of working with autistic people’s existing strengths and fascinations rather than squashing them – a thought echoed by Dr Grandin herself.
Medica CPD would once again like to thank everyone who helped make Temple Talks Autism 2019 so special: our Headline Sponsor JPMorgan Chase & Co.; our Silver Sponsors Fresh Start In Education, Acorn Care and Education Ltd and Ruskin Mill Trust; our Health Sponsor: RIS Products; event partners Scottish Autism, National Autistic Society, Jim Taylor: Knows Autism and Glasgow City Council; our helpers and staff – and of course, every single one of you who came along!
We’d love to see you at another event soon – check out the Annual Children’s Mental Health Conference 2019 or keep an eye on our forthcoming events here…
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