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New Swansea event created to listen to and learn from autistic people

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A new event that aims to help people become more autism friendly and best support those who are autistic is coming to Swansea.

The first Autism Conference will take place on April 1st as one of the few in the UK to largely feature speakers with lived experience. The event is free to attend in order to make it as accessible as possible.

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The event at Swansea.com Stadium is being held by Orbis Education and Care during World Autism Awareness Week, to help deliver the message that people living with autism can only truly be accepted and supported if they are listened to.

Designed to increase understanding and acceptance through providing a platform for autistic people to be heard, the event will also feature a choir of autistic young people using Makaton (a system of signs and symbols) as a communication aid.

Jock Andrew, Head of Autism at Orbis Education and Care, said: “As people working to support autistic adults and children we are constantly mindful of the need to genuinely listen, understand, accept and ultimately co-produce good support systems that promote, well-being, health and happiness. We can only do this by listening to autistic people.”

“In providing this free-to-attend event, we wanted to support professionals working to improve the lives of autistic people, but also extend an invitation to community members interested in becoming more autism aware, and as a result more autism friendly too.”

Orbis Education and Care operates 16 schools, residential homes and day facilities for autistic children and adults, and is one of the UK’s leading specialist providers.

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More than 100 visitors expected to attend its inaugural Annual Autism Conference will hear first-hand from speakers including Emma Reardon and Dr Rorie Fulton of Swansea-based social enterprise Autism Wellbeing, alongside others living with autism, parents representing autistic children, and more.

They will be joined by Pamela Hirsch, co-author of 2003 book ‘Conversations with Autism’, Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Peter Carpenter, who has worked with and studied autism for more than 30 years, and Nada Brothers, the parent of two autistic young men.

The conference starts at 9am, with the focus being on ‘Promoting Personal Growth Through Autism Intelligent Practice’. It will provide insight into how we can all support the journey from being autism aware to becoming autism friendly, and ultimately achieving autism intelligence in all that we do.

The free conference aims to help people become more autism friendly and best support those who are autistic.

Jock said: “Our first Annual Autism Conference is going to be an opportunity for us all to really think about how we can improve upon the way we listen to and strive to truly understand, people with autism.”

“We also hope it will give Wales a focus during World Autism Awareness Week, as the first in what we envisage will become an annual celebration of the strengths, skills and achievements autistic people living locally have to offer.” he added.

To book a free place, visit the conference’s eventbrite page.

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