Dr Stephen Mark Shore, PhD.
Keynote via video
Dr Stephen Mark Shore is Clinical Assistant Professor in Special Needs and Autism, at Adelphi University, Pennsylvania, USA. He will be delivering the Keynote address by video on "the Awesomeness of Autism" . Stephen is himself on the spectrum and passed through what he calls the "autism bomb" years when he was very young.
He particularly enjoys teaching music to special needs children and also travels the world, speaking to organisations everywhere about Autism and Asperger Syndrome and the absolute imperative for Neurotypical people to treat us with respect and understanding.
He is also the Patron of Aspie Help / The Aspire Trust (Inc)
Jeanette Purkis is an autistic advocate. She has written three published books on elements of autism, has another book due out in November 2017 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 recent Asia Pacific Autism Conference and the Autism@Work conference. Jeanette regularly speaks at universities, for state and Federal Government departments and as a guest speaker at professional conferences. Jeanette 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. Jeanette is highly visible in the autism community. She has a number of awards for leadership including two from the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia. She was the 2016 ACT Volunteer of the Year and a finalist in the 2017 ACT Woman of the Year award. Jeanette featured in the 2010 ABC documentary 'Alone in a Crowded Room'.
Michael is a member of Aspiehelp Christchurch and a year 13 student at Ao Tawhiti/Unlimited/ Discovery School. He has discovered a passion for film making
and will be showing his 30 minute 2016 film The Parcel followed by a Q&A.
Synopsis of "The Parcel":
For the past four months, a teenager has been becoming a recluse as his fear of the outside world increases. One day a wrongly addressed parcel is delivered to his door.
After failed attempts at ringing the post office and the police, he decides to travel outside the house and find the rightful owner of the parcel. His travel leads him to a journey of self discovery with a mixture of crazy characters and shocking situations.
Aspiehelp "Subverting the dominant paradigm"
Leith McMurray: Founder and Co-Counsellor.
Leith McMurray has a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work from the University of Canterbury.
Recently she gained registration with the Social Worker Registration Board.
Leith was diagnosed at the age of 58 with Asperger Syndrome and spent the larger part of her life trying to cope in a Neurotypical world before finding her "true" nature.
In exploring her Aspieness, Leith identified a need for more services for people with Aspergers/Autism in the community. This led her to found Aspiehelp Christchurch in 2010 with Jan Brooking. Her Social Work training proved to be a great foundation for this work. Recently she has been advised she will be awarded with a Christchurch Civic Award
for services to the city and community, in December 2017
Julie McGeorge: Co-Counsellor
Julie had experience with Asperger's students while working in a Special Needs Unit in a High School in Timaru, and worked one on one with students.
She has great "people skills" and communicates well with all ages. She wishes to further these skills and add to them whilst working for Aspiehelp.
Julie is currently doing her Diploma of Psychology and Counselling at The Career Academy (distance learning) and has come to realise her true being as an Aspie!
Leith and Julie will be running a workshop that focus on what Aspiehelp does and how the "By Aspie for Aspie" holistic approach assists our clients to reach their full potential and to be proud of being part of our unique community.
This will be followed by a Q&A.
We have gathered together a group of experienced parents who have all raised children with Aspergers/Autism who have gone on to be successful in life. Each parent has had to advocate and support them to overcome challenges along the way. The topic for this panel is, "what advice do you wish you had been given at the start of your journey?," followed by a Q&A.
Rod is one of three generations; Rods father, Rod himself and his two sons who were written off in childhood from an educational point of view. Rod's father was expelled from mainstream education in his primary school years because his ticcing and noises were a disruption to the other children. Rod was deemed unteachable but it was uncertain about what his true ability was, which caused divisions between his teachers. Rod couldn't read until he taught himself after leaving school. Rod's sons were deemed retarded (which was the term used back then) and Rod and his wife were urged to keep the boys away from mainstream education. Rod home-schooled the boys interspersed with conventional schooling.
Today Rods oldest son is a fully qualified audio engineer through Mainz and was their top student. Rod's youngest son early this year received his Degree in 3 D animation.
Rod and his then wife started the first Aspire Trust NZ in 1998 to directly cater to the needs of Aspergers students They ran a Respite care centre for Aspergers children and teenagers for eight years. Rod also worked full time on Area Health and Education teams for over twelve years working with many children and teenagers with Aspergers in schools throughout the Auckland and Northland areas.
Rod also trained as a student advocate (Youth law e.a.s.y program) and advocated for students as well as did Irlen screening. Rod has written many articles and features in books overseas and is also well known for his poems and quotations about Aspergers.
Sebastien is an Autistic Frenchman of 35 years. He owns a business in France in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning but is also back-end developer at Kathmandu at Christchurch. In France autism is treated as the old way (refrigerator mothers). From birth, Sebastien was a non-verbal autistic person, who started life dividing his time between a psychiatric hospital, school, and work. His synesthesia (sees words and ideas in colour in his mind) helps him to survive in the world. Now, he lives in joy in New-Zealand with his future wife and has lots of projects to improve their lives. During his conference, Sebastien will try to introduce his way to see the world with example, happiness, and interactive presentation.