[Image description: Dark blue text box with white and orange text. Text reads: ‘Autistic Mental Health and Wellbeing 1-2 May 2021 An Autistic-led online conference’ Illustration of a monarch butterfly. Half of the butterfly is shown in black and white, half in colour. A gold infinity sign lies across the butterfly’s thorax. On a dark blue text box at the top Reframing Autism and Aucademy’s logos appear.]

Aucademy are very pleased to be co-hosting an Autistic mental health event in 2021 with Reframing Autism, and one of our valued contributors David Gray-Hammond of Emergent Divergence. Donation tickets to be released early 2021. Pop this in your calendars!

“We are so excited to bring you this event in May 2021, a collaboration with Autistic-led educational organisation Aucademy. Held online over two days, the Autistic Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference will offer a wealth of expertise and lived experience from a diverse group of advocates.

Event description

Reframing Autism and Aucademy are delighted to co-host a one-off, online conference focusing on the mental health and wellbeing of Autistic people.

The following Autistic advocates will present their experience and expertise on the topics of Autistic mental illness, masking, Autistic burnout, wellbeing, and resilience:

  • Tim Chan
  • Bobbi Elman (Bobbi Elman: NeuroDivergent Autism Support)
  • Dr Chloe Farahar (Aucademy)
  • David Gray-Hammond (Emergent Divergence)
  • Christa Holmans (Neurodivergent Rebel)
  • Yenn Purkis (Yenn Purkis Neurodiversity page)
  • Kieran Rose (The Autistic Advocate)
  • Harry Thompson (Harry Thompson – PDA Extraordinaire)

There will also be a live panel discussion, held on Saturday 1 May at 20:00 GMT, exploring the factors contributing to Autistic trauma. The panel, chaired by Harry Thompson, will include:

  • Chris Bonnello (Autistic Not Weird)
  • Emma Dalmayne (Autistic Inclusive Meets, Autism Inclusivity)
  • JayJay Mudridge (Not Another Autistic Advocate)
  • Tigger Pritchard (The Autistic Coffee Shop with Tigger Pritchard)

Many of the presentations will put forward protective strategies for Autistic wellbeing and resilience, and all the presenters will aim to end their presentations on a hopeful note.

The overall aim of the event is to offer insights from lived experience into a range of co-occurring mental health conditions and wellbeing issues affecting Autistic people and to reduce stigma around mental illness.

The event will be delivered via a closed Facebook group throughout the weekend of 1–2 May 2021.

We are hoping to raise enough in ticket sales to compensate our Autistic presenters sufficiently. We are offering set-price tickets and donation tickets, so as to make the event accessible and affordable for all attendees.

Trigger warnings: Mental illness, trauma

About Aucademy

Founded by Dr Chloe Farahar, Aucademy offers Autistic academics, researchers, teachers, speakers, trainers, and advocates education on Autistic experience for Autistic and non-autistic learners, because the best way to learn about Autism is from Autistic educators.

About the presenters

Chris Bonnello is an Autistic special needs tutor, formerly a primary school teacher. Since 2015, he has become an international speaker on Autism issues. He shares his insights on his blog autisticnotweird.com, which has had more than 2.5 million hits, and with a Facebook community of over 135,000 followers. He is also the author of the Underdogs novels.

Tim Chan is a 25-year-old Chinese Australian. Diagnosed with Autism at 3 years old, Tim has been non-speaking after 14 months of age. He picked up Partner Assisted Communication at age 9 and has used this as his preferred method to “talk”, connect with people and engage with the world. Tim gave a TEDx talk at 18, presumably the first by a non-speaking Autistic person, and published his autobiography Back from the Brink in 2019. Facing discrimination and exclusion at high school, Tim has become passionate about social justice and works with advocacy organisations including The I CAN Network, Youth Disability Advocacy Services and Children and Young Adults with Disability and is a director of Reframing Autism. Defying early gloomy prognosis for his future, Tim is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in sociology.

Emma Dalmayne is an Autistic mother to Autistic children, and the founder and CEO of not-for-profit organisation Autistic Inclusive Meets. She campaigns strongly for Autistic rights and fights to stop Autistic mistreatment, having worked with the police, the BBC and other prominent media. Emma has written two books about Autism, It’s An Autism Thing… I’ll Help You Understand It and Susie Spins.

Bobbi Elman was born in the US and moved to the UK over 27 years ago now. She is happily married and a parent to two amazing young people. Bobbi has worked for more than 8 years in a primary school as an Autism-specific one-to-one TA and completed a postgrad degree in Autism from the University of Birmingham. Now working for herself, Bobbi trains staff in primary schools, organisations, charities, etc., as well as online workshops and presentations. Bobbi only recently discovered her Autistic identity and has happily embraced it.

Dr Chloe Farahar: late diagnosed, perpetually, enduringly, eternally, weird, odd, standoffish, but also beautifully, irredeemably Autistic. Dr Farahar is an Autistic academic whose research interests revolve around her Autistic specialisations (not “special interests”). Her specialisations include: reducing mental health stigma with a neurodiversity script Stigmaphrenia© (Farahar, 2012); supporting Autistic people with her co-founded So, You’re Autistic? post-diagnostic support programme; reimagining the spectrum as a three-dimensional Autistic space; and educating both Autistic and non-autistic learners about Autistic experience in her training courses and on her educative platform, Aucademy.

David Gray-Hammond is an Autistic addiction and mental health advocate. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis. David is Chief Operating Officer of NeuroClastic and runs the Facebook page and blog Emergent Divergence. He has published numerous articles on the topic of addiction, mental health, and asexuality amongst Autistics and has also spoken on the topics of addiction and mental health. David has also been involved in the commissioning of substance addiction services in his home city, and has consulted in city Council meetings on addiction treatment policy to represent the treatment rights of Autistic addicts.

Christa Holmans is an Autistic self-advocate from Texas who runs the neurodiversity lifestyle blog Neurodivergent Rebel. Holmans is also known as the pioneer of the #askingautistics hashtag, which connects neurodivergent people who would not otherwise have a reason to engage with each other, and fosters collective understanding of Autism. Christa currently lives in an RV with their best friend and four dogs, pursuing new interests wherever they can be found.

JayJay Mudridge is an Autistic advocate, hobbyist, crossfit athlete, multiply published poet, and academic tutor existing in and around Massachusetts, USA. They run the page Not Another Autistic Advocate on Facebook where they attempt to dispel cultural myths about Autism and Autists.

Tigger Pritchard is an Autistic advocate, trainer and consultant. Tigger has devoted the past thirty years to working with neurodivergent individuals in many capacities. He consults to individuals, families and organisations, sharing his extensive skills, knowledge and lived experience. Tigger is the longest-serving Makaton (keyword sign) tutor in the United Kingdom. He’s also involved with the National Autistic Society in the county of Cornwall. And he runs the Facebook page The Autistic Coffee Shop with Tigger Pritchard, as well as an Instagram account and YouTube channel.

Yenn Purkis is an Autistic and non-binary advocate, presenter and author and co-author of 10 books. Yenn has been a trailblazer in Autistic self-advocacy, with their work in this area beginning in 2005. They are prolific, producing memes, blogs, videos, and undertaking many speaking engagements, including a TEDx Canberra talk in 2013. Yenn has won several prestigious community leadership awards over the years, including the winner of an Achievement in Inclusion award at the 2019 ACT Chief Minister’s Inclusion Awards and ACT Volunteer of the Year in 2016.

Kieran Rose is a published author and international public speaker, whose essays at theautisticadvocate.com have been read by over 1.5 million people.

With a background in SEND Education and service delivery for children and adults, Kieran delivers his own specialist Autism and Neurodiversity training to families and professionals; and provides private consultancy for charities and organisations across the world.

He is founder of The Autistic Cooperative, an international network and lobbying group for Autistic professionals and advocates; Managing Director of the social enterprise Infinite Autism, which supports Autistic people and families in the North East of England; he is advisory board member of the US-based international Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Education organisation Therapist Neurodiversity Collective; and is Neurodivergence Educator for the US-based Occupational Therapy charity the Star Institute for Sensory Processing.

Alongside consulting on various research papers, Kieran is co-producing his own research into different areas including Autistic masking, victimisation; and monotropism and Autistic identity with his research partner, Developmental Psychologist Dr Amy Pearson; he has a co-produced published paper on Autistic masking with Dr Pearson; and another one on masking in the publication process with Dr Louise Chapman. Kieran is also a published research partner with the Institute of Leadership and Management on the experiences of Neurodivergent people in employment. He has lectured at universities across the UK and is also a PHD supervisor for Durham University.

Kieran was diagnosed as Autistic in 2003 and is parent to three children, two of whom are diagnosed Autistic.

Harry Thompson was born in Edgeware and grew up in Barnet (North London). He is currently based in London, UK and is an avid reader and researcher. He launched his YouTube channel in March of 2017 which has since amassed a strong following.

Harry began to write the first draft of his book in 2015. After connecting with many Autistic and PDA families, he pivoted his direction and completed his book in about 6 weeks, a memoir entitled The PDA Paradox: The Highs and Lows of My Life on a Little-Known Part of the Autism Spectrum.

Harry has been elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) in recognition of his work in the field of PDA, and also in recognition of the publication of his book, The PDA Paradox, which has been deemed an outstanding contribution to our knowledge about PDA.

2 thoughts on “The Autistic Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference 1st – 2nd May 2021

  1. So I was just wondering if I could help you out with your Autism and Mental Health conference? I cannot see any other mental health nurses on this conference and my job every day is working with Autism and Mental Ill Health. Just a thought? Thank you, Lavinia

    1. Thank you for your offer. We are booked for speaker slots, and it is not clear from your comment if you are Autistic yourself, or only working with Autistic people. The event has only Autistic speakers of different backgrounds. =)

Leave a Reply