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The chosen theme of the 2022 Congress is “Happy Journey through Life”. It addresses the fact that autism is a life-long journey and brings focus on the well-being of each autistic individual. We plan for the Congress programme to be challenging, diverse, inclusive and to create debate. 

The Congress programme will be made up of keynote presentations, pre-selected symposia topics, oral presentation sessions, poster presentations, panel discussions, workshops, “meet the expert” sessions and networking. 



KEYNOTE SPEAKERS




Isabel Dziobek
Professor of Clinical Psychology of Social Interaction and Head of the University Outpatient Clinic for Social Interaction at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.##MORE## She is a psychotherapist interested both in understanding the bio-psycho-environmental mechanisms of order and disorder in social information processing. In her clinical work she focuses on autistic adults. She has a broad interests in research including: social cognition, neurobiology, technology and robotics. Along with Sven Bölte she started the German Society for Autism Researchers. Amongst other things, they hold an annual conference. She has also started a participatory group Autism-Research-Collaboration, which is a way to include autistic people in research design, activity and outputs.


Ewa Furgal
Founder and President of the Fundacja Dziewczyny w Spektrum (Girls on the Spectrum Foundation), organization empowering girls and women on the autism spectrum and creating safe space for them.##MORE##She’s an anti-discrimination and equality educator, winner of the Polcul Foundation award for civic activities. She is a member of research team at University of Warsaw working on the project ‘Queer people with disabilities in Poland’. She’s an author of the blog and initiative Dziewczyna w Spektrum (Girl on the Spectrum), also author of the project for non-working women with Asperger syndrome ‘Vocational Befriending’ admitted to the Social Innovation Incubator Transfer HUB.


Catherine Lord
The Distinguished Professor-in-Residence School of Medicine at UCLA and a Senior Research Scientist in the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour.##MORE## Dr. Lord is a licensed clinical psychologist with specialties in diagnosis, social and communication development and intervention in autism. She is renowned for her work in longitudinal studies of social and communicative development. She has also been involved in the development of standardized diagnostic instruments for autism: the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS), an observational scale, and the Autism Diagnostic Interview — Revised (ADI-R), a parent interview, now considered the gold standard for autism diagnosis all over the world.



Professor Connie Kasari
Professor of Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a leading international expert in developing interventions for autistic children and their families.##MORE## Her research focuses on targeted interventions for early social communication development in at-risk infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with autism, and peer relationships for school-aged children with autism, leading to the recognition of her therapy JASPER as an established evidence-based ASD treatment. Much of this work involves populations that have traditionally been understudied and underrepresented in research, including low-resourced children and minimally verbal children. Her work is often conducted in schools. She has published widely on topics related to social, emotional, and communication development and intervention in autism. Dr. Kasari regularly presents to both academic and practitioner audiences locally, nationally, and internationally.


Emily Simonoff
Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the head of the Department and Academic Lead for the CAMHS Clinical Academic Group in King’s Health Partners.##MORE## Professor Simonoff is medically trained in psychiatry. She is American born but conducted her clinical training and research at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. She is a Senior Investigator in the National Institute of Health Research and a Theme Lead for Child Mental and Neurodevelopmental Disorders in the Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre. She is well-known for her work on co-occurring mental health difficulties (particularly anxiety) and autism.


Brian Boyd
Professor and Director of the Juniper Gardens Children's Project at the University of Kansas, USA. As Director of a community-based, applied research centre focused on child development, he has been heavily engaged in research that involves the most vulnerable, and often marginalized, populations.##MORE##As a special educator by training, much of his research has involved the development and evaluation of evidence-based interventions that could be implemented within school-based contexts. This work led to some of the first comparative efficacy studies of classroom-based interventions for preschool-aged children on the autism spectrum. Further, Dr. Boyd has been actively engaged in research on the sensory and repetitive behaviours of autistic children and adolescents, including the development and validation of outcome measures for this core symptom domain. He also has been involved in the development of behavioural interventions to promote the behavioural flexibility of autistic children so they are able to meaningfully participate in their environment. Dr. Boyd's work has been continuously funded by both the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Institutes of Health. Currently, he serves on multiple national boards that are dedicated to improving the outcomes of individuals with disabilities and those from historically underserved communities.


Petrus de Vries
The Sue Struengmann Professor of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and Director of the Centre for Autism Research in Africa and the Adolescent Health Research Unit at the University of Cape Town.##MORE## Between 2004-2011, Prof. de Vries established and led a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary service for school-aged children with neurodevelopmental disorders in the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, UK with strong partnership working between Health and Education sectors. In 2012 he returned to South Africa to take up the Sue Struengmann Professorship. He oversees 4 research programmes at the University of Cape Town, including the Centre for Autism Research in Africa, an Adolescent Health Research Unit, a Tuberous Sclerosis Complex programme, and a Staff Research Development Programme.




 
SYMPOSIA TOPICS

We have been guided by our Scientific Committee, as well as suggestions from the wider community, to create a diverse and exciting programme that will include symposium topics on the following:

1. Diagnosing and supporting co-occurring difficulties in the early years
2. Reviewing the evidence base to support early communication development
3. Research review and practice recommendations in adult diagnosis
4. Best practice working with autistic adults with high support needs
5. Outcomes for adults on the spectrum: whose quality of life is it anyway?
6. Building healthy living: a lifetime perspective
7. Better mental health and wellbeing for autistic people and their families
8. What is the future of telehealth in autism services?
9. Reviewing the evidence: how to create the right environments for autistic pupils in school
10. Building positive peer relationships in schools
11. How do we support families marginalised by ethnicity, culture, language or finances?
12. Gender Identity and autism
13. Cognitive neuroscience – where are we now and where are we going?
14. Sensory differences – brain, behaviour and management


3 PERSPECTIVES

For many of the Congress sessions, there will be a balance of presentations from researchers, practitioners (i.e. from health, education or social care), autistic people, their family members and carers, and those involved with policy or advocacy. At the end of sessions, there will be time allotted for discussion and Q&A.