On 5 July 2019, Ceredigion Autism Spectrum Team and Aberystwyth University Accessibility Services hosted the Ceredigion Autism Conference at Aberystwyth University.
At the sixth annual conference, autistic people focused on what is important to them about how other people think about autism. They also looked at how they are supported if and when they need support, and how other people can help them to build self-esteem, confidence and identity.
The conference was attended by over 130 people, bringing together autistic people, parents, carers and professionals from health, education and social care services and the voluntary sector. The agenda promoted our shared ethos and vision of understanding autism as a different way of thinking, learning and being; different but equally valuable.
Councillor Alun Williams, Ceredigion County Council’s Cabinet member with responsibility for Adult’s Services and Champion for people with learning disabilities co-chaired the conference with John Harrington Head of Accessibility Services, Aberystwyth University. The conference was opened by Carys James, Corporate Lead Officer for Children and Adult Services.
Councillor Williams said, “This was the sixth autism conference to be held in Aberystwyth and once again was very well attended. Whilst the audience was a healthy mix of autistic people, friends and carers alongside professionals working in related fields, the speakers and panellists were all autistic people. This allowed them to set the agenda and provided a unique learning opportunity for professionals to better understand the kind of support that can make a positive difference and to further improve the services we provide in Ceredigion.”
John Harrington said, “It is always an immense privilege to co-host the Ceredigion Autism Conference at Aberystwyth University. This year’s line-up of key note speakers were all inspirational and thought provoking about their autistic journeys through life.”
Key notes speakers this year were Chris Bonnello, who gave his 11 top tips for building autistic adults and children; Marianthi Kourti, who spoke about the challenges of being an autistic autism professional; and Kieran Rose, who gave a moving and insightful presentation about the effects of ‘masking’ and about what needs to change for autistic people to be fully accepted and supported.
For the closing session of the day, local autistic individuals joined the key speakers to form an expert panel, giving their experiences and perspectives of support services and answering questions from the audience.