Making the transition through the autism journey

Catherine Trezona

30 May 2017 – Transitions #Breakthrough2017 is our biennial learning event, held in Auckland July 19 and 20, writes Catherine Trezona.

THANKS TO Te Pou’s Consumer Leadership Development Grant, over 50 consumers – that is, autistic people and their family/whānau – are able to attend. Several of these people are also speakers, bringing a rich range of topics. People with lived experience of autism will present two of our four streams of workshops.

Transitions #Breakthrough2017 will be an extraordinary opportunity for immersion in autistic culture. We feature several of the speakers in this Journal and all the abstracts are on our website. Check out the full programme on our website and register.

“Te Reo Hāpai – The Language of Enrichment”

Keri Opai – Maori strategic lead at Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui

Keri Opai, Paeārahi- Strategic Lead, Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui, met with me recently, to discuss his newly created glossary of Maori language use in the Mental Health, Addiction and Disability sectors. This new creation project is called “Te Reo Hāpai – The Language of Enrichment”.

I am really excited about the possibilities Keri’s work brings to new language for autism and other ‘disability’ terms. I believe language is powerful and the words we use shape attitudes and identity – as we see when we use words not favoured by those we are talking about! Takiwātanga – in my own time/space – is such a fresh way of looking at autism and emphasises difference rather than disability. You can learn more about this new glossary, Te Reo Hāpai – The Language of Enrichment in the article “A time and space for Takiwātanga”. Keri is speaking at Transitions #Breakthrough2017.


Specialisterne employment programme

Altogether Autism and Enrich+ hosted John Craven, Specialisterne Australia, for a week in May to share the Dandelion Programme with businesses and government. This is a very successful model used throughout the world to connect employers with autistic talent. We are very keen to bring this programme to New Zealand and as a first step, we are developing two surveys to learn more about autistic employment in New Zealand. If you have a story to tell, either as an autistic employee or an employer of an autistic person, we want to hear from you. Contact us about this via our website. Read more about Specialisterne.

System Transformation

Paula Jessop

Paula Jessop, our autistic advocate, attended a Ministry of Health funded meeting in Wellington with me to discuss the System Transformation project with Sacha O’Dea, programme lead, Ministry of Health,  and Esther Woodbury, national policy and relationships manager, Disabled Persons Assembly. Gabby Hogg and Joanne Dacombe, two other autistic advocates, also attended this meeting. Sacha invited us to meet with her to discuss ways to include an autistic perspective in the system transformation project of disability support services. We identified some of the issues specific for the autism community. We then discussed why an autistic perspective was important, options for including this perspective and agreed upon some actions. One of these actions was for Sacha to send out information through multiple channels after each workshop.

Keeping in touch

We know there are issues bubbling away between issues of the Journal and we like to keep readers informed via our website and our social media platforms. In recent months, your engagement with us through these channels in ever-increasing numbers has been helpful and we thank you for that. Your feedback, for example, resulted in us creating a search button on our website’s front page and each article, which appears in the Journal, also goes up separately on the website along with any references to other websites.

Keep an eye out on our channels for updates during the conference.

Catherine Trezona

National Manager, Altogether Autism

This article first appeared in the Altogether Autism Journal issue 2, 2017.




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