Parents, carers and autism professionals can hear from a series of specialists and get expert advice at our forthcoming All About Autism conference in Slough on World Autism Awareness Day 2019 – Tuesday, April 2.
Dr Fiona Knott, our opening speaker of the day, will talk about Anxiety and Autism – Tips for Parents. Dr Knott is a clinical psychologist and the co-director of the Centre for Autism at the University of Reading. She specialises in autism and developmental disabilities in children and adolescents.
She became interested in autism during her gap year, working in a school for autistic children in her home county of Dorset. She studied for a PhD at the University of Reading, which looked at the way autistic children interact with their siblings, then trained as a clinical psychologist in Scotland and worked there for a number of years.
After returning to Reading, she worked as a lecturer at the university and as a clinician for Berkshire CAMHS, where she helped to develop the autism diagnostic service, before joining the university full-time in 2014 when the Centre for Autism was established.
Mairi Evans has held the role of neurodevelopmental lead for the CAMHS autism assessment team at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust since 2015. She also oversees the trust’s ADHD assessment service.
She has a background in social work and family therapy, with extensive experience working in CAMHS services, and is a doctoral researcher at the University of Bedfordshire.
The title of Mairi’s presentation is Autism, Girls and Oughtism. She will look at diagnosis, differences in autism in girls and why we need to think about challenging common perceptions about how things ‘should’ or ‘should not’ be when it comes to autism, or criticising or questioning how parents manage their child’s behaviour.
Carly Jones MBE, is an autism advocate, campaigner and film-maker from Arborfield. She also leads some of Autism Berkshire’s training workshops for parents and carers.
She received an autism diagnosis at the age of 32, after two of her three daughters had been diagnosed.
Carly will talk about Autistic Women and Girls. She was the first autistic British woman to address the United Nations about the rights of autistic females and has developed an online safeguarding course for autistic girls, with the title Boundaries, Bodies, Abuse and Reporting it for Autistic Girls.
Conor Eldred-Earl is an advocate for young autistic people, helping their voices to be heard by public services, including CAMHS and GPs.
He got involved with Healthwatch Wokingham as a volunteer in 2016 and was named as the organisation’s Youth Champion in 2017.
He has been a member of CAMHS working groups, gives talks at schools and will be talking about Growing up Autistic – How Diagnosis Helped Me at the conference.
Diagnosed while at primary school, he found being told that he was autistic “both relieving and daunting”.
He has an interest in mental health issues, after suffering depression for a number of years.
Dr Fang Liu is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences at the University of Reading.
She studied for a PhD in linguistics and an MSc in statistics at the University of Chicago in the US.
She will give a presentation about Music and Language Processing in Autism, looking at her work on music-assisted language interventions for non-verbal or minimally-verbal autistic children, drawing on research into how the human brain processes pitch information in language and music.
Helen Cattermole is a sleep practitioner with the charity Parenting Special Children and an NHS behaviour specialist nurse, working with adults who have learning difficulties.
She is the mother of a daughter with additional needs and first came into contact with PSC when attending some of its workshops for parents, before joining the team as a sleep practitioner in 2014, helping parents and carers of children with special needs to manage their sleep issues.
She will be leading a mini-workshop session looking at sleep hygiene and the support provided by PSC’s Sleep Service to Berkshire families who have children with additional needs, including autism.
Alongside the main presentations, parents, carers and professionals will have the chance to put questions about autism to an expert panel in the final session of the conference.
The panel will include Mairi Evans, Carly Jones, Ruth Pearse – the founder and chief executive of Parenting Special Children – and Tricia Kempton, the manager of Maidenhead-based charity The Autism Group.