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Autism: The Challenges and Opportunities

June 1, 2016 @ 8:30 am - 2:00 pm

Autism: The challenges and opportunities, 25 May 2016, Manchester

Phone Telephone: (0161) 376 9007       Book now  Register your interest   Previous event View Programme


Overview                                       View Programme

Autism_The-Challenges-and-Opportunities-web-bannerDeveloped in association with Autism Together, the second annual Autism conference will help to develop a better understanding of the needs of autistic people, including actual experiences of those on the autistic spectrum, as well as informative insight into services available.

The programme will focus on life stages ie childhood, adolescence, and the transition to adulthood, focusing on key challenges such as diagnosis, education, SEN, family and social situations, employment, identity, and more. Presentations from those with first-hand experience of autism will be supplemented by practical sessions which are designed to be transferable, encouraging adoption across different teams and organisations.

Open Forum Events are delighted to be gaining a reputation for “truly inspirational” health and social care conferences. Delegate feedback from our last Autism conference includes:

“A good introduction to autism and services”
“Interesting information on current thinking and initiatives”
“A good insight and very good networking”

Join us at Autism: The Challenges and Opportunities to hear the latest developments in autism care and support, and examples of best practice from leading organisations across the health and social care and education sectors. You will have the opportunity to question, discuss and debate the very latest policies, projects and emerging models of care, as well as sharing your own stories and experiences with the conference and contributing to wider thinking about autism in the UK.

More details                View Programme

Autism affects over half a million families in the UK. Since the 1990s there has been a surge in reported cases, attributed to greater awareness and better diagnosis, although more recently numbers have levelled off. Improved diagnostic services, along with enhanced knowledge and skills amongst professionals, have helped those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) receive the support they require to unlock their full potential. However, areas which still need to be addressed include research, diagnostics, promoting independence, employment, awareness, education and transition to adulthood.

In April 2014 the government published “Think Autism: Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives”, which is an update of the 2010 Autism strategy for adults with autism in England. The foundations of the original strategy, which set out 56 commitments to achieve better health and social care outcomes, were strengthened through the update to make greater difference to people’s lives. The strategy has been supported by £4.5 million being put towards an Innovation Fund and a community-led awareness programme.

There cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach when dealing with autistic people, as each individual has their own unique needs. Some may also have additional considerations, such as a learning disability and serious mental or physical health issues. It is important that agencies work in partnership to provide the local services and solutions to support individuals in accessing life’s opportunities and ensure that autism is not a disqualifying factor.

Join us at Autism: The Challenges and Opportunities to hear the latest developments in autism care and support, and examples of best practice from leading organisations across the health and social care and education sectors. You will have the opportunity to question, discuss and debate the very latest policies, projects and emerging models of care, as well as sharing your own stories and experiences with the conference and contributing to wider thinking about autism in the UK.

Benefits of Attending               View Programme

    • The conference will bring together professionals from health and social care, education, academia, and the wider public, private and third sectors with people with autism and their families, providing a chance to engage with and learn from each other.
    • The programme has been designed to offer maximum practical value, featuring a mix of keynote speeches, service-user presentations, and case studies from those who are doing things well.
    • Get a real understanding what life is like for people living with autism and their families.
    • Discover what progress is being made in improving the lives of autistic people.
    • Be inspired by examples of best practice from leading organisations across the health and social care and education sectors.
    • Debate ideas to improve the experience of autistic people and their loved ones.
    • Gain new ideas, new thinking and new contacts.
    • Network with a wide range of organisations all dedicated to effecting real change in autism care and support.
    • Benefit from the opportunity to question, discuss and debate the very latest policies, projects and emerging models of care.
    • Take advantage of excellent networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities.
    • Share you own stories and experiences with the conference and contribute to wider thinking about autistic spectrum disorder.
    • Be awarded CPD credits

Please see Terms and Conditions.



Rompa & Winslow LogoRompa was the first company to bring Snoezelen® Multi-Sensory Environments to the UK. 30 years on we have helped to improve the lives of people around the world and built a brand that you can trust. Our reliability, service, aftercare and product knowledge are second to none. We also continually strive to keep in touch with the issues and policies that affect you, improving and updating our services accordingly. We believe in inclusion, equal opportunities, independence, participation in the community and bringing awareness of people with disabilities into the mainstream.

Speaker Biographies

Robin Bush, Chief Executive, Autism Together
Robin_Bush_portraitRobin has worked within the care sector for over 20 years. He began his career as a support worker at a residential school for children with severe learning disabilities in South Devon. It was during his time at the school, that he developed an interest in autism spectrum conditions, which was to become a feature of his career.
On leaving Devon, he lived and worked on the Isle of Man and was instrumental in developing the first specific services for individuals with an autism spectrum diagnosis on the island. Robin returned to England and continued to develop supported living services for adults with a range of complex needs, including those with mental health conditions, severe learning disabilities and physical disabilities.
Robin came to the Wirral Autistic Society from a private social care provider in Lancashire where he held the position of Managing Director. He has a firm commitment to ensuring continued development of bespoke quality support services.
As a social care professional, Robin has gained a Master’s Degree in Social Services Management, Post Graduate Diploma in Social Services Management and an Advanced Certificate Special Education Autism (Adults).
He has been recognised through the Great British Care Awards, reaching the regional finals in 2012 and the National Finals in 2013 for his work in developing person-centred organisations. Since Robin joined WAS, the organisation has won a Laing & Buisson Specialist Care Award in 2013 and 2014 and a National Autistic Society Autism Professional Award in 2014.

Catherine Aldred, Researcher, University of Manchester and Consultant Speech and Language Therapist, Roundway Centre
Catherine_Aldred_portraitCatherine is a specialist in the field of autism and associated social communication impairments. She has led pioneering therapy trials developed from her Ph.D. research at the University of Manchester and 32 years clinical experience. She is a principle investigator in a series of UK and international autism intervention trials (PACT, Pre-school Autism Communication Trial, PACT 7-11 follow-up, PASS, Parent-mediated intervention for children with Autism Spectrum disorder in South Asia in India and Pakistan, PACT-G, Paediatric Autism Communication Therapy- Generalised), The multi-site studies aim to provide evidence based practice by rigorously evaluating the effectiveness of communication treatment delivered in the home and school context working collaboratively with parents and teachers.

Catherine is an honorary lecturer at the University of Manchester; she works in an independent therapy clinic Roundway Centre and provides expert opinions, therapy advice and therapy intervention for children with communication impairment. She is a national trainer in autism diagnostic and assessment instruments and developed a sensitive measure of change in child communication competencies (DCMA, Dyadic Communication Measure for Autism). Catherine is also is a professional advisor within the NHS on assessment and treatment issues for children with autism.

Kevin Oakhill, Director of Service Development, Ambitious about Autism
Kevin_oakhill_portraitKevin Oakhill has been Director of Service Development at Ambitious about Autism for around a year, managing the development and delivery of services including two new sites of Ambitious College, co-located with mainstream FE College partners. The team also runs support services for families and young people; offers training and consultancy services, including the national Succeeding at College programme; and leads on the Employ Autism campaign for Ambitious.

Kevin was previously a strategic commissioner at Ealing Council, taking a long-term view of the needs for an increasing cohort of young people with SEND and autism; national lead on education at The Prince’s Trust; and worked at the LSC and Central Bedfordshire College.

Kevin is or has been a trustee and governor at MIND in Ealing and Hounslow, Autism Schools Trust, Ambitious College, Changemakers and Harpenden Free School.

He firmly believes that we haven’t run out of ways to both save money, and do the right thing for children and young people.

Jacqui Shepherd, Teaching Fellow and PhD researcher (autism), School of Education, University of Sussex
Jacqui_shepherd_portraitJacqui contributes to teaching and research on inclusive education, special educational needs and disability and research methods at the University of Sussex. She has been a Teaching Fellow there since 2001 initially running the PGCE in English for secondary trainee teachers and more recently convening the BA in Childhood and Youth as well as contributing to MA programmes. She runs a specialist option within the initial teacher education courses where trainees spend six weeks in a special school setting and receive additional training. She has recently completed a PhD in Education funded by the ESRC that investigated the transitions of young people with autism leaving special school and going on to colleges of further education. She also has a son with autism and severe learning difficulties.

j.shepherd@sussex.ac.uk #jacshepautism

David Ellams BSc(Hons), Founder & Managing Director, Yoga4Autism
David_Ellams_portraitDavid is Founder & Managing Direcrot of Yoga4Autism.org. When David was a child he was diagnosed with Asperger’s, Dyspraxia & Dyslexia. He has managed to turn his life around though natural healthy methods, such as Meditation, Yoga & Mindfulness. He is now one of Europe’s leading Mobile Phone Apps. and Software Developers, highly rated by Nokia and other big names. David was one of the few people to be hired by Nokia, without even a face to face interview. Despite being termed ‘Asperger’s’, he is a recognised Tech Genius and has a First Class Honours Degree in Computer Science and Business. He is currently a top IT contractor and Architect working in London. He has used his successful career to get Y4A and NextGen Software off the ground. He also donates to many charities, which are listed on the NextGen Software website (http://www.nextgensoftware.co.uk)
It is David’s Goal to now share the Secrets of his Success, along with other coping strategies, so that others with similar disabilities, do not have to suffer and struggle like he once did. In doing so, he hopes to help people lead successful, happy and fulfilling lives, with Yoga and Mindfulness at the forefront.
It is also David’s wish to help others find their own individual gifts and to help hone them further, and then assist them with sharing these with the World. His Big Dream is to help as many people as possible practice Yoga and Mindfulness, especially those that Society tends to overlook, including the Homeless, Unemployed, and of course those with Disabilities. David knows that with a healthy body and mind, Autistic people of all ages, can follow their hearts and dreams, because anything is possible.

Leena Haque, BBC Project CAPE Lead
Leena_photoLeena came to work for the BBC as part of the Extend trainee scheme 3 years ago. Following her Extend placement, Leena recognised a need to raise awareness of Hidden Disabilities and submitted a business case to support a project to review Neurodiversity in Employment, a project aimed at investigating workplace issues for people with hidden neurological conditions. Before joining the BBC, Leena worked within the finance sector after having gained a 2:1 BA degree from Durham University and an MSc degree from London School of Economics.




Sean Gilroy, Finance Business Partner & Senior Project CAPE Lead, BBC North
Sean picSean is a Chartered Management Accountant and has worked at the BBC for 9 years. He is based in Salford with BBC North following the move to MediaCityUK in 2011. An advocate for inclusion he is committed to accessibility and diversity, he has managed 4 recruits from the BBC Extend trainee scheme over 3 years including Leena Haque with whom he leads on Project CAPE researching Neurodiversity in the workplace.




Jamie Knight + Lion, Senior Accessibility Specialist, BBC
JamieKnight_Lion_portraitJamie, and his constant side kick Lion, live in Romford where they are transitioning to independence and exploring what it means to be autistically happy.
Jamie loves all things technical from software to gearboxes. Jamie’s been a developer for over 10 years, in the last 6 years he has been a senior developer in BBC platform engineering and was a lead developer on iPlayer Radio.
Jamie is at the intersection of technology and ability; both from a personal assitive technology and digital accessibility perspective.
Lion is Jamie’s constant companion. He holds the fictional post of “Head of Antelope Management” at the BBC. Mostly because he said he did and no one has felt brave enough to argue.
Since 2009 Jamie + Lion have worked with a range of clients including Channel 4 and Apple. He has also guest lectured for Birmingham University and City University London and contributed to print magazines in both technical and autism fields. Jamie has given over 50 presentations for clients including Good Autism Practice, NAS, UK Disability Forum and many others.
Jamie + Lion write about autistic life and happyness at SpacedOutAndSmiling.com where they share reviews, tips and are keeping a transition journal.

Julie Simpson, Founder, Autism Adventures



Julie Simpson is mum to Joe who has severe autism and learning difficulties.
She set up Autism Adventures because when they were out with Joe there was nowhere they could play, eat or shop. Autism Adventures aims to provide suitable social settings for autistic families to access, as well as providing training to customer facing companies to give them a better understanding of autism.
Since the company was formed, which is a CIC, it has worked in partnership with Autism Together to try and create an autism friendly city in Julie’s hometown of Liverpool.
This is Julie’s dream for Joe and all the other young people in the spectrum, to be able to access as many play and shopping facilities as their peers, as well as joining their family to enjoy get togetherness in restaurants.
Autism Adventures are currently working with 2 Major retail parks; Liverpool One and Mersey Retail, Signature Living Hotel Group, Matel Play, Mersey Travel and Lifestyle Gyms. When Julie started the organisation she had nothing but a bag, a pen and a phone. But with passion, desire and an attitude nothing is impossible and anything can be achieved or overcome. Julie wants to show other mums it is possible to do anything if you believe. Her motto is “I wouldn’t change my son for the world but I will change the world for my son”.

Dr Rosalind Bergemann, Chair, Asperger Leaders and Non-Executive Director, Dimensions

Rosalind_bergeman_portraitAs Chair of Asperger Leaders, Non-Executive Director of Dimensions and CEO of Globalite Management Services, Dr Rosalind Bergemann is shedding new light to correct the stigma associated with Autism in the workplace. As someone who has received many awards for both leadership and mentorship – Chartered Management Institute Mentor of the year Award and the National Managerial and Leadership Award for Consultant of the Year to name a few, she is no stranger to being a successful businessperson. What most people do not know is that she has accomplished this despite being autistic herself.

Without any type of formal or informal support system available to her, Rosalind had to learn to understand and work through the challenges she experienced as someone with autism in the workplace. Today she is able to combine that knowledge from a professional and personal perspective to offer the best advice to others, whether that through her books, her mentorship or through public speaking, so that autism can finally be recognised, not as a mental disability but rather a neurological difference.

She encourages individuals to recognise their strengths to amplify their talent and be proud of themselves as unique and valuable employees, as well as advising employers and support workers how to prepare people on the spectrum for the workplace.

Booking Information

If you would like assistance registering your place please contact Jonathan Smith on 0161 376 9007 and we will be happy to assist.

Discounts for 3 or more delegates are available.

Want to pay by invoice? If you select your tickets and click on the green Register button. Once you’re through to the registration page, you can switch payment method from Credit/ Debit Card to Pay by Invoice– if you get stuck please call us on 0161 376 9007 and we will be happy to help.

Chairs/Chief Executives
Clinical Nurse Specialists
Consultant Physicians
Directors/Heads of Access and Inclusion Teams
Directors/Heads of Autism Services
Directors/Heads of Child Protection Teams
Directors/Heads of Children’s and Youth Services
Directors/Heads of Commissioning
Directors/Heads of Educational Welfare Teams
Directors/Heads of Employment Services Teams
Directors/Heads of Equality and Diversity Teams
Directors/Heads of Housing and Care Providers
Directors/Heads of Independent Living Teams
Directors/Heads of Learning Disabilities Teams
Directors/Heads of Local Safeguarding Children Teams
Directors/Heads of Looked After Children Teams
Directors/Heads of Mental Health Teams
Directors/Heads of Nursing
Directors/Heads of Operations
Directors/Heads of Public Health
Directors/Heads of Residential Care Teams
Directors/Heads of Sheltered and Supported Housing
Directors/Heads of Support Teams
Directors/Heads of Voluntary Sector Providers
Directors/Heads of Young Offenders Institutions
Directors/Heads of Safeguarding Adults Teams
SENCOs and SEND Teams
Educational Psychologists
Head Teachers/Principals/Education Professionals
Mangers of Jobcentre Plus, Connexions
Medical Directors
Members of Health and Wellbeing Boards
Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub Members
Senior Autism Leads
Senior Police Officers and Public Protection Units
Senior Probation Officers
Social Workers
Senior Lecturers
Speech and Language Therapists
Occupational Therapists

Manchester Conference Centre
Sackville Street
M1 3BB

Hotel 1:
Premier Inn Manchester City Centre Portland Street Hotel: From £51 http://www.premierinn.com/en/bookingSummary!execute.action

Hotel 2:
Premier Inn Manchester Central Hotel: From £55 http://www.premierinn.com/en/bookingSummary!execute.action

Hotel 3:
Travelodge Blackfriars Street: From £49 http://www.travelodge.co.uk/search_and_book/extras.php?room_0=DNBARFLEX&bookerName=

We also now have special rate code for delegates wishing to stay at the Pendulum Hotel (MCC) the night before the event at a rate of £87.00 Bed and Breakfast inclusive.

Please enter the code ‘DELEGATE’ in order to receive this rate for events organised by Open Forum Events only. Please see the link below: http://www.manchesterconferencecentre.co.uk/on-site-hotel-bedrooms/

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Benefits of Attending.

Phone Telephone: (0161) 376 9007      email Email: tickets@openforumevents.co.uk      Book now


June 1, 2016
8:30 am - 2:00 pm
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Open Forum Events Ltd
(0161) 376 9007


Manchester Conference Centre
Sackville Street
Manchester,M1 3BBUnited Kingdom
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0161 955 8000