Dr Jill Ashburner’s career in the disability sector has spanned 40 years, including a number of senior occupational therapy positions. As Manager Research and Development at Autism Queensland since 2007, her research has focused on the education of students on the autism spectrum, professional development of clinicians working in the autism field, bullying, written expression, and telehealth. She has led Autism CRC projects on written expression, structured teaching, an evaluation of a post-school transition program, and goal-setting for adults and adolescents on the spectrum. Jill has a longstanding interest in the sensory processing issues of people on the autism spectrum. Her doctoral study explored the relationship between the sensory processing issues of children with ASD and their classroom behavioural, emotional and educational outcomes. She has also published articles on (a) an evidence-informed framework to guide clinical reasoning for children on the spectrum experiencing sensory challenges, (b) a survey of occupational therapy practices for people with autism, and (c) a qualitative study exploring the sensory experiences of young people in the spectrum. She is currently conducting research on the development of My Sensory Experiences, a tool which utilises photographic representations of sensory experiences in everyday contexts (e.g., classrooms, supermarkets), combined with open-ended questions to assist young people in describing their sensory experiences. Jill is also conducting a detailed analysis of the responses of parents and teachers in relation to sensory issues of students with ASD at school from the Autism CRC nationwide survey, the ASD: Educational Needs Analysis.
Dr Wendi Beamish lectures in special needs education at Griffith University, and has a strong practitioner background in special education and early childhood intervention. Her research interests focus on teacher practice in the areas of education transitions, behavioural support, social-emotional competence, early intervention, and inclusive schooling. To date, Wendi has over 60 publications, many in the area of autism. She is the lead researcher of the Early Years Stream within the ACRC Transition Models of Practice Research Project.
Dr Matt Capp, EdD, is a Senior Education Officer: Inclusive Education at Brisbane Catholic Education and visiting academic at universities across South-East Queensland. His areas of research interest are Universal Design for learning, professional learning communities, and effective use of teacher aides. Matt has presented at numerous conferences, workshops, and schools across Australia focussing on the practical application of educational research within classroom contexts. During his free time Matt likes to spend time with his wife and son, read, watch movies, travel, and exercise.
Suzanne Carrington is a Professor and Assistant Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Education, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia. Suzanne’s areas of expertise are in inclusive education, disability and teacher preparation for inclusive schools. She has engaged in research to inform policy and practice in Australian and international education contexts, more recently extending this research to the South Pacific and Asia. She has broad knowledge of education research, and her publication list provides evidence of extensive collaboration with education, health and medical research. Her publications are available eprints.qut.edu.au/view/person/Carrington,_Suzanne.html
Suzanne is currently the Program Director of Program 2: Enhancing Learning and Teaching for The Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC). This is the world’s first cooperative research Centre focused on autism across the lifespan. www.autismcrc.com.au.
Dr Trevor Clark is a special educator, researcher and author with a comprehensive experience and knowledge of educational programs, service provision and research related to the education of students on the autism spectrum; his career in autism spans 3 decades and 3 countries – New Zealand, England and Australia. He completed his PhD in autism at the University of New South Wales in 2001 which involved a curriculum designed to make functional use of savant and splinter skills in children on the autism spectrum. He is currently responsible for the Aspect Research Program which is currently involved in 29 research and evaluation projects, and which includes 17 Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for studies. He is also the Senior Education Consultant to the Aspect schools program (8 schools, 117 satellite classes with student enrolment of 1068 students). He presents nationally and internationally on education and research in autism. Trevor is the co-author of A Practical Guide for Teachers of Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in Secondary Education and has a new book published in 2016 by Routledge UK based on his PhD thesis – Exploring Giftedness and Autism – study of a differentiated program for autistic savants.
Professor Valsamma Eapen MBBS., FRCPsych., FRANZCP., PhD
After graduating in Medicine, Prof. Eapen completed her clinical postgraduate training in Child Psychiatry through the Great Ormond Street Hospital Training Scheme, London, and PhD research at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London. Her academic career began at the University College London, UK, and then moved to the UAE University, before taking up her current position as Professor & Chair, Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales, and Head of the Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry South West Sydney (AUCS), Liverpool hospital, Sydney, Australia. She is internationally known for her expertise in neurodevelopmental disorders including Tourette Syndrome and autism and has authored over 200 scientific publications including five books, several book chapters and peer reviewed journal articles. She is a member of several international consortiums including Obsessive Compulsive Foundation Genetics Collaborative, Homozygosity Mapping Collaborative for Autism and Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC). She is involved in research covering genetics and neurocognitive pathways to clinical diagnosis and management. She is part of several collaborative grants with over 30 million Australian dollars in funding including from National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Australian Research Council (ARC), and is a Program Director for the Autism CRC which is the world’s first national Co-operative Research Centre focused on autism.
Dr Emma Goodall is a passionate educator and autistic advocate. On the board of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network Australia, New Zealand and Oceania she is also on the executive of the Australian Society for Autism Research and a visiting fellow at the University of Wollongong and when not writing books, journal articles or researching, Emma works in the South Australian education system as their Senior Autism Adviser. Emma’s drive comes from a belief that individual autistics need opportunities and understanding in order to achieve their potential and to live happy and meaningful lives.
Liz Pellicano has recently been appointed Professor in Educational Studies at Macquarie University, having previously been Professor of Autism Education at University College London. An internationally-regarded experimental psychologist, she is also committed to understanding the distinctive opportunities and challenges faced by autistic children, young people and adults and tracing their impact on everyday life – at home, at school and out-and-about in the community. She has been consistently dedicated both to ensuring that the outcomes of her research are as influential as possible in education policy-making and to enhancing public understanding of autism, its challenges and opportunities.
Jeanette Purkis is an autistic advocate. She is passionate about making positive change for autistic people and those who love and support them. She has written four published books on elements of autism and is a regular blogger. Jeanette is a prolific public speaker and has presented for TEDx Canberra in 2013 and as a keynote speaker at a number of events including the 2017 Asia Pacific Autism Conference and the Autism@Work conference. She speaks on many topics including autism and mental health, resilience and employment. Jeanette has worked in the Australian Public Service since 2007. She has facilitated a support group for autistic women in Canberra since 2011 and hosts a regular online radio program for UK advocacy organisation Positively Autistic. She is also a guest presenter on the Canberra Radio 2CC Talking Disability program. Jeanette is highly visible in the autism community. She was named the 2016 ACT Volunteer of the Year and a finalist in the 2017 ACT Woman of the Year award. She was a finalist in the Institute of Managers and Leaders Leadership Excellence awards in 2016 and 2017. Jeanette featured in the 2010 ABC documentary Alone in a Crowded Room. She lives in Canberra with her little black cat, Mr Kitty.
Emily Rubin, MS, CCC-SLP is the Director of the Educational Outreach Program at the Marcus Autism Center, an academic affiliate of Emory University and an NIH Autism Center of Excellence. She has served as a member of an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Ad Hoc Committee on Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), a committee charged with developing guidelines related to the role of speech-language pathologists in the diagnosis, assessment, and treatment of ASD. As a co-author of the SCERTS Model, she lectures internationally both in-person and through distance learning. Currently, the focus of her work is on supporting community-based educational systems to build internal capacity for supporting social emotional engagement and social emotional learning competencies within classroom lessons.
Dr Beth Saggers originally trained as a primary and special education teacher. During her thirty years of teaching experience she has worked across all educational age groups in a diverse range of educational contexts. A focus of her teaching has always been developing supportive educational environments for students on the autism spectrum (ASD) and for many years she worked across a range of educational contexts as an Advisory Teacher for ASD. As a result, much of her experience lies with working to support success for staff, parents and students with ASD of all ages within inclusive settings. While a key focus is best practices for supporting students with ASD in schools, she also has a particular interest in:
- supporting social emotional wellbeing and positive mental health
- working with students with challenging and complex needs
- providing supportive learning environments for ALL students, and
- Supporting education stakeholders to implement best practices
Beth is currently an active research participant in the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) which is the world’s first national cooperative research centre focused on autism and takes a whole-of-life approach to autism focusing on diagnosis, education and adult life.
Natalie Silove is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Discipline of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney and Senior Lecturer (Conjoint) at the School of Psychiatry (UNSW). Her research career includes being Co investigator on numerous NHMRC grants with a focus on autism spectrum disorders and ADHD. Natalie has a particular interest in research for medical interventions relating to rarer genetic disorders e.g and Fragile X. Natalie is primarily a Clinician and is Head of Child Development Unit at The Children’s Hospital Westmead; She has over 20 years experience working with children and young adults with special needs, their families and schools. She is a strong advocate for collaboration on an individual and organizational level and focuses on making intervention and supports meaningful and evidence based. To this end Natalie is on the executive committee of many leading organizations integral to maximizing the potential of individuals living with a disability including the Agency for Clinical Innovation (ACI). One of the highlights of her career was being part of the establishment of the Centre for Effective Reading, collaboration between The NSW Ministry of Health and Department of Education. It is the adults and professional bodies’ utmost responsibility to maximize the students educational and personal potential while they are in our care, and that demands respectful, meaningful and timeous collaborations.
Dr Tom Tutton started work for the severe challenging behaviour team in the UK in 1997 working closely with students on the spectrum to maintain home and school placements. Subsequently, after 3 years completing a clinical psychology degree at Southampton University and more than 10 years supporting people on the spectrum in classrooms, schools, family homes and communities through direct service, training and research, he has never wanted to do anything else. Tom has spoken at Asia Pacific Autism Conferences, the Autism Congress in Singapore 2017 and the Association of Positive Behaviour Support conference in Denver 2017. Tom is currently starting 3 years of research into the implementation of PBS in Aspect schools and staff attitudes to discipline and behaviour.
Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.