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05 Mar '20

The Annual Autism Conference 2020

Posted by Carina Hamilton in News

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Over 170 delegates from throughout Scotland attended Medica CPD’s ‘Annual Autism Conference 2020’ which was held at the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor.

We were delighted to welcome keynote speaker World Autism Expert, Brenda Smith Myles, Ph.D. from the USA to Glasgow for the first time! Brenda was also joined by our other superb speakers Geoff Evans, International Trainer and Consultant in Autism and Anna Kennedy, UK Autism Ambassador and Founder of UK Autism Charity Anna Kennedy Online.

It was a great learning day, enjoyed by both speakers and delegates! Here are some of the day’s highlights:

Brenda Smith Myles

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“Autistic people are not broken”

Brenda spoke on “Lightbulb Moments and Lessons: What I’ve learned from autistic people” highlighting her experiences in the field of autism over the past quarter decade (plus!). She gave us a knowledge update and a deeper understanding on the way autistic children and young people process information and lots of sound practical advice. When supporting autistic individuals, it is key to remind yourself ‘most people are doing their best’ and nobody intends to behave badly.

“Potential is Limitless”

Brenda showed the limitless potential individuals with autism must be successful but expressed the need for those supporting them to do more!

Geoff Evans

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“We ALL have challenging behaviours”

Geoff’s presentation was on “Autism a holistic approach to behaviours that challenge” which gave us lots of food for thought! Geoff argues that the reason for behaviours in autism is complex therefore any effective approach must address the whole person and those around them. He spoke on the importance of communication and engaging the sensory elements, as well as reassuring the audiences not to feel guilty about the need of ‘quick fixes’!

“Understanding how autistic people experience the world and learning from each child you support will help you better care for autistic children and young people”

After a fantastic morning of knowledge updates and practical strategies, it was time for lunch! The food was delicious with a two-course lunch! The deserts were incredible! This break allowed delegates to network with each other, discuss their thoughts and visit our superb exhibitors Scottish Autism and Ruskin Mill!

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Brenda Smith Myles

Delegates returned from lunch refreshed and energised to learn! Following on from her morning presentation, Brenda spoke on “Simple strategies that work! Helpful hints for educators of students with AS, high functioning autism and related disabilities”. Amongst all the fantastic information she gave delegates 6 simple and effective strategies for supporting children and young people with autism.

1. Comprehensive Autism Planning System (CAPS)
- CAPS is a helpful tool for scheduling and understanding an Autistic individual’s routine in different situations. CAPS can be used in school, at home, for a full day or one particular activity, to break down important factors such as: Activity, Structure, Sensory Strategies and Social Skills/Communication.

2. Incorporate Priming
- Individuals with ASD process small changes similar to the way another person would process a major change. Preparing students for daily activities and giving an overview of any changes can help make the child feel more comfortable.

3. Simplify the Language
- Individuals with ASD may appear to understand, however this does not mean they do. Changing the language, you use and being visual in your approach can help ensure individuals fully understand instruction.

4. Reinforce
- Use of reinforcements such as allowing them to spend time on a special interest, can help ensure that a certain behaviour will occur again.

5. Create a balanced agenda that conveys energy
- Find a balance of low-stress, high pleasure activities incorporated throughout the day

6. Manage the environment through Predictability and Placement
- Teaching students’ routines directly and preparing for change, will decrease challenges in the classroom.

Anna Kennedy

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The day’s final speaker was Anna Kennedy who is a mother to two autistic sons, as well as being a UK Autism Ambassador, founder UK Autism Charity Anna Kennedy online, author of “Not Stupid” and finalist in BBC Peoples Strictly 2015 and founder Autism got Talent, UK.

Anna shared her experience living with her 2 sons with autism, the highs and lows in life and the need to make a better future for individuals with ASD. We could all see Anna’s real passion in supporting autistic individuals and she campaigns tirelessly to this end she has established two schools, a college, a respite home and a website with over 50,000 international followers!

“Anna was a fabulous speaker. Such an inspiration and selfless in her passion for Autism.”

Medica CPD would like to say a huge thank you to all of our speakers, delegates, Scottish Autism and Ruskin Mill for making 2020’s ‘Annual Autism Conference’ a fantastic learning day! We hope to see you all soon at our future events!

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