The fifth Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC 17).



Dr Josephine Barbaro

Dr Josephine Barbaro is a Research Fellow at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, La Trobe University. Dr Barbaro's research interests are in the early identification and diagnosis of autism in infants and toddlers, and family health and well-being following a diagnosis.

Dr Josephine Barbaro will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Her developmental surveillance program for autism, the Social Attention and Communication Study (SACS), has been developed over the past 11 years, and is used amongst healthcare professionals in Australia, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific. Dr Barbaro's early detection program has led to the development of ASDetect; the world's first, empirically-based, autism surveillance mobile app for infants and toddlers. ASDetect has won the AIIA Research and Development Project of the Year Award at the Victorian and National iAwards, and was one of ten finalists for the Google Impact Challenge 2016.


Michael John Carley, M.F.A

Michael John Carley is the Founder of GRASP, a School Consultant, and the author of "Asperger's From the Inside-Out" (Penguin/Perigee 2008), "Unemployed on the Autism Spectrum," (Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2016), "'Why Am I Afraid of Sex?' Building Sexual Confidence in the Autism Spectrum... and Beyond!" (late 2016), and "The Last Memoir of Asperger's Syndrome" (unsigned).

Michael John Carley will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Author of the Huffington Post column, "Autism Without Fear," he was also one of two people on the spectrum to testify at the US Congress' first-ever autism hearings in 2012. In 2000, he and one of his two sons were diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Re-evaluated in 2014, he was diagnosed with ASD. More information can be found at


Lee Casuscelli

Lee is currently the National Project Manager for Positive Partnerships. Lee has a deep understanding of educational practices that best support students on the autism spectrum. She has been working in the education and disability field for over 30 years across all education sectors and K-12 settings in NSW.

Lee Casuscelli will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Her many roles have included classroom teacher, itinerant support (Autism and behaviour), consultant and a variety of executive positions, including Principal. Lee adopts a thoughtful, informed approach to working with communities and values the importance of collaboration. She is committed to building strong sustainable relationships and dedicated to working in the Autism space.


Dr Trevor Clark

Dr Trevor Clark is a special educator, researcher and author with a comprehensive experience and knowledge of educational programs, service provision and research related to the education of students on the autism spectrum; his career in autism spans 3 decades and 3 countries - New Zealand, England and Australia.

Dr Trevor Clark will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

He completed his PhD in autism at the University of New South Wales in 2001 which involved a curriculum designed to make functional use of savant and splinter skills in children on the autism spectrum. He is currently responsible for the Aspect Research Program which is currently involved in 29 research and evaluation projects, and which includes 17 Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for studies. He is also the Senior Education Consultant to the Aspect schools program (8 schools, 117 satellite classes with student enrolment of 1068 students). He presents nationally and internationally on education and research in autism. Trevor is the co-author of A Practical Guide for Teachers of Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in Secondary Education and has a new book published in 2016 by Routledge UK based on his PhD thesis - Exploring Giftedness and Autism - study of a differentiated program for autistic savants.


Professor Cheryl Dissanayake, BSc Hons, PhD Monash, MAPS

Professor Dissanayake is the Founding Director of Australia's first research centre dedicated to ASDs established in 2008. She has been an autism researcher since 1984, when she began her PhD at Monash University. On completion she undertook a postdoctoral fellowship in the Sigman lab at UCLA, and has established and led an active research program since joining La Trobe University in 1996. In addition to her scholarly activities, with numerous grants and publications.

Professor Cheryl Dissanayake will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Professor Dissanayake was instrumental in bringing together Victorian and Australian autism researchers, having co-founded the Autism Victoria ASD Research Group (in 2003), the Australasian Autism Research Alliance (in 2005), the Australasian Autism Research Collaboration (in 2009) and the Australasian Society for Autism Research (2011), a member based society of which she is vice-President. She is also a Project Leader in the Autism Cooperative Research Centre.


Dr Yuebo Fan

Dr Yuebo Fan is Director of the Autism Research Centre at South China Normal University, senior pediatrician, guest professor of a couple of universities, founder and Principal of Guangzhou Cana School (Guangzhou Rehabilitation & Research Center for Children with ASD), which is the 1st public special education school for children with autism in China mainland.

Her researches are focused on neuropsychological mechanism, diagnosis & evaluation, rehabilitation & education of ASD, operation and management of autism rehabilitation & education programs, and personnel development in related fields. She services as the vice Chair of Association of Services for People with Autism affiliated to China Association of People with Mental Illness and their Families and Relatives (CAPPDR), the Vice-chair of Guangdong Rehabilitation & Education Association of Autism(GREAA),and the Director of Guangzhou Guidance Center for Inclusive Education for Children with ASD.

She has published more than 30 papers nationally and internationally, 15 of which were accepted in SCI/SSCI, 2 autism guidebooks, 1 translated book; and has led12 autism research programs.


Dr Emma Goodall

Dr Emma Goodall is a passionate educator and autistic advocate. On the board of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network Australia, New Zealand and Oceania she is also on the executive of the Australian Society for Autism Research and a visiting fellow at the University of Wollongong and when not writing or researching, Emma works in the South Australian education system as their autism adviser.

Dr Emma Goodall will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Jake Gratten

Dr Jake Gratten

Jake Gratten is a NHMRC Career Development Fellow (2) at the Institute of Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland. His research aims to improve understanding of autism and other psychiatric disorders through whole genome analyses. He leads an Autism CRC–funded project on the systems genomics of autism, he holds a NARSAD Young Investigator Award to work on genomic analysis of sex differences in psychiatric disorders, and he holds NHMRC grants to work on genomic analysis of the relationship between parental age and risk of psychiatric illness, and gene discovery in schizophrenia through analysis of de novo mutations.

Dr Jake Gratten will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.


Dr Wenn Lawson, PhD, CPsychol. AFBPsS MAPs

Psychologist, lecturer and author, Dr. Wenn has run his own business for 25 yrs. At 2yrs, misdiagnosed as intellectually disabled, at school of being incapable of doing as he was told, at 17yrs misdiagnosed with schizophrenia; in and out of Mental Health Institutions; eventually age 42yrs, diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition (ASC), ADHD, dyspraxia and learning difficulties.

Dr Wenn Lawson will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Dr. Wenn is passionate about the rights of those who so often cannot speak for themselves.  He is the parent of four children (youngest son has ASC), and grand-parent to three, (including two gorgeous little girls, both with ASC).

Dr. Wenn is currently a Teaching Fellow with Birmingham University. He resides on the Autism Open Access board and the board for SEAL, (Community College in Warrnambool). He is participant and advisor for Autism CRC, Australia. He has written numerous books (and papers) on ASC.


Mark Lever

Mark Lever joined the National Autistic Society as CEO in March 2008. Since then he has led the organization through significant strategic change. The NAS is the UK's leading organisation for people affected by autism. It runs 6 independent autism specific schools, has developed inclusion units in mainstream settings and opened 2 free schools with a 3rd free school in development. In addition, the Society delivers thousands of packages of community based support for adults affected by autism.

The NAS is a highly effective campaigning organisation and champions the rights and interests of all people with autism. It provides individuals with autism and their families help, support and services that they can access, trust and rely upon and which can help them lead the life they choose.

Mark is a member of the National Autism Programme Board which oversees the implementation of the strategy for adults with autism.

As a founder member and CEO of the NAS Academies Trust he has led the development of the organisation's autism specific free schools. The first, Thames Valley School in Reading, opened in September 2013 with the second, in Cheshire, opened in 2015. A third free school is in development in London.

Prior to the NAS Mark worked for 12 years at the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (WRVS), holding a range of roles, including, Director of Strategic Development and Operations and then CEO. He was previously a partner at accountancy firm Kidsons (now Baker Tilly). He is a Cranfield MBA, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Chartered Institutes of Personnel and Development, and Marketing.


Dr. Samuel L. Odom

Dr. Samuel L. Odom is Director of Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and Professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He is Principal Investigator of the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders, Project AFIRM, The Efficacy Study of Elementary Learners with Autism (TESELA) Project, and the Center on Secondary Education for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Dr. Samuel L. Odom will be speaking at a Keynote Plenary session.

He is the author or co-author of more than 150 journal articles or chapters and editor or co-editor of ten books on early childhood intervention and developmental disabilities. His current research is addressing treatment efficacy for children and youth with ASD, early intervention for toddlers with disabilities and their families, and professional development for teachers of children and youth with ASD. In 2013, he received the Arnold Lucius Gesell Prize awarded for career achievement in research on social inclusion and child development by the Theordor Hellbrugge Foundation, Munich, Germany, and in 2016 he received an honorary doctoral degree from Stockholm University, Sweden.


Ms Denise Phua

Ms Denise Phua is the President of Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) and a Board member of Autism Association (Singapore). She supervises 2 special schools for persons with autism, the Pathlight School - which she co-founded - and the Eden School.

Ms Denise Phua will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Denise is also a Member of the Singapore Parliament and a Mayor of Central Singapore District where one million people reside.

As an MP, Denise has focused on advocating for the vulnerable, especially for persons with special needs, the elderly and others who are at risk of being left behind. She is part of the team behind Singapore's three 5-year Enabling Masterplans which chart services and programmes for persons with disabilities. Prior to her current portfolio, Denise acquired more than 20 years of corporate management experiences in Hewlett-Packard, the Wuthelam Group and founded the Centre for Effective Leadership (Asia).


Dr Barry M. Prizant, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Dr. Barry Prizant has more than 40 years experience as a scholar, researcher and international consultant for individuals with autism. He is an Adjunct Professor, Brown University, and Director of Childhood Communication Services, a private practice. Formerly, he was an Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry in the Brown University School of Medicine.

Dr Barry M. Prizant will be speaking at a Keynote Plenary session.

Barry is co-author of four books, including The SCERTS Model: A comprehensive educational approach for children with ASD (2006). He has published more than 130 articles and chapters, presented more than 700 seminars and keynote addresses internationally, for 20 years, he has co-facilitated an annual weekend retreat for parents of autistic children.

Barry has received many awards including the 2014 Honors of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2005 Princeton University-Eden Foundation Career Award in Autism, and the 2013 "Divine Neurotypical Award" of the Global and Regional Asperger's Syndrome Partnership. Barry's latest book, Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, has received critical acclaim from renowned researchers, practitioners, parents and autistic people.

Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism

There are many misconceptions about autism and the experience of autistic people. In this presentation, myths surrounding 1) behaviors observed in autism, 2) the view of autism as a tragedy and 3) the belief that autism is only experienced by the individual with the ASD diagnosis will be challenged and a paradigm-shifting perspective will be offered. ASD is defined by a checklist of impairments, and this perspective leads to treatments that often focus on ridding a person of “autistic” symptoms. Instead of classifying behavior as deviant and pathological, we will examine such patterns as part of human development and human behavior— a range of strategies to communicate and to cope with a world that feels confusing, overwhelming and frightening. Informed by published research, four decades of experience working with autistic people and their families, and first person accounts, the experience of autistic people is addressed in a manner leading to more respectful and developmentally appropriate approaches. The notion of autism as a tragedy for the individual and family will also be challenged by parental accounts of raising and living with family members with autism. Finally, the notion that autism is best understood as a shared human experience rather than a condition within a person will also be considered. The presentation will conclude with a summary of evidence that leads to a compelling new way of understanding and living with autism, by honoring the uniqueness of each individual, by building on interests and strengths and by providing a range of appropriate supports. Specific educational/treatment implications will be presented that challenges approaches that focus on "fixing" people with autism and that measure progress primarily on the basis of eliminating symptoms.



Dr Selim Pullu

Selim was born in Istanbul Turkey in 1970. He graduated from the University of Istanbul, Department of History, in 1992 as the honour student of the department. Due to a perfect transcript he received a scholarship from the Turkish Government, so he completed his M.A and started his Ph.D. in U.S.A. After he completed his studies he returned back to Turkey.

Selim Pullu will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

He has been teaching history for more two decades and is proud to say that he has had a long string of successful students pass through him. With a keen knowledge of ancient history and archaeology, in addition to his expertise in archaeology, he also has extensive experience in field surveys and museum work. He attended many archaeological excavations throughout Anatolia, over more than consecutive 15 years, including surveys and restorations as well. He is also experienced at working with international academic research teams. He is also interested in the Gallipoli War Era.

During his academic career he had certain administrative positions, such as being assigned to Chairman in Ancient History and Archaeology Departments in Universities. Beside this he was also assigned to the role of Director of Western Anatolia Archaeology, at the Institute of University of Afyon in Turkey.

Lastly, he has dedicated his last four years to understanding and helping his son Ege who was diagnosed with autism. He is proud and honoured to be nominated and received "ASPECT's The Parent of the Year Award 2016".  He would like to thank all his family members and a big thank to The Positive Partnership for all their support and training.


Jeanette Purkis

Jeanette Purkis is an author, public speaker and autism advocate who has a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome and atypical schizophrenia. Jeanette has worked full-time in the Aus-tralian Public Service since 2007 and has a Masters degree in Fine Arts.

Jeanette Purkis will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Jeanette is the author of three books on elements of autismand hosts an internet radio show. She has been speaking about Autism since 2005. Some of the events Jeanette has presented at include  TEDxCanberra 2013 and presenting alongside Professor Temple Grandin and artist Tim Sharp in Melbourne in 2015. Jeanette has also been a keynote presenter at a number of events, including the Aspect Autism in Education Conference and the Victorian Autism Conference in 2016. Jeanette facilitates a support group for women on the autism spectrum in Canberra. Jeanette is the 2016 ACT Volunteer of the Year.


June Riemer

June Riemer is a descendant of the Dunghutti people of the Kempsey region of Northern NSW and comes from a long line of strong Aboriginal women, the empowerment and education of her people has been her life's journey. Currently the Deputy Chief Executive Officer for First Peoples Disability Network (Australia).

June Riemer will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

June's work through policy change and Aboriginal community development programs over the last 20 years supports this Peak activity work. With previous experience as policy officer at NSW Council of Social Services and development programs overseas in Israel with holocaust victims for a period of 10 years, has enabled her to develop a diverse skill set for management and Aboriginal community engagement.


Professor Jacqueline Roberts

Jacqui holds the Chair of Autism in the Autism Centre of Excellence (ACE) at Griffith University. Jacqui worked in Aspect schools for children with autism as a teacher, speech pathologist, principal and Director of Services, as a consultant and held several short-term fractional research appointments at different universities teaching autism studies and leading/managing research projects including content in the Australian Autism Education and Training Consortium (AAETC) Positive Partnerships program.

Professor Jacqueline Roberts will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

ACE is an essential partner in the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Living with Autism Spectrum Disorders and offers an extensive multidisciplinary postgraduate study program in Autism. In 2015 Jacqui co-authored a book for parents, Understanding Autism. The Essential Guide for Parents with Professor Katrina Williams. Jacqui is committed to achieving the best possible quality of life for people with autism.


Dr Stephen Shore, Ed.D.

Diagnosed with "Atypical Development and strong autistic tendencies" and "too sick" for outpatient treatment Dr. Shore was recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much support from his parents, teachers, wife, and others, Stephen is now a professor at Adelphi University where his research focuses on matching best practice to the needs of people with autism.

Dr Stephen Shore will be speaking at a Keynote Plenary session.

In addition to working with children and talking about life on the autism spectrum, Stephen is internationally renowned for presentations, consultations and writings on lifespan issues pertinent to education, relationships, employment, advocacy, and disclosure. His most recent book College for Students with Disabilities combines personal stories and research for promoting success in higher education.

A current board member of Autism Speaks, president emeritus of the Asperger's Association of New England, and advisory board member of the Autism Society, Dr. Shore serves on the boards of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association, The US Autism and Asperger Association, the Scientific Counsel of OAR, and other autism related organizations.


Judy Singer

Judy Singer identifies as being "in the middle of 3 generations of women somewhere on the Autistic Spectrum". Her 1998 Honours Thesis from the University of Technology Sydney, was the pioneering sociological study of this then new kind of disability.

Judy Singer will be interviewed at the end of Barry Prizant's presentation.

In her thesis, she argued that AS was not a new medical condition, but a "socially constructed" disability which emerged due to social changes in the post-modern era. She was credited with coining the term "Neurodiversity" to call for a new "liberation" movement for people who were neurological atypical. Judy was the founder, via the internet, of the world's first support group for people raised by autistic parents. She was Secretary of Sydney's Inner West Autism and Asperger's Support Group for several years, and co-founded ASteen, a Sydney-wide social club for teenagers with AS, which is now affiliated with Aspect NSW.


Peter Vermeulen, PhD

Master in Psychology and Pedagogical Sciences at the University of Leuven, Belgium (1985) and PhD in Psychology and Pedagogical Sciences at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands (2002).

Peter Vermeulen will be speaking at a Keynote Plenary session.

From 1987 till 1998 working for the Flemish Autism Association, first as home trainer for families with a child with autism, later as director of the home training centre and finally as trainer / lecturer.

Since 1998 working as autism consultant / lecturer /trainer at Autisme Centraal. Chief Editor of "Autisme Centraal", bi-monthly magazine of Autisme Centraal. President of the editorial board of the Belgian-Dutch Journal of Special Education, Child Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology. Published more than 15 books and several articles on autism, a.o. "This is the title: on autistic thinking" (2001), "I am Special: handbook for psycho-education" (2000, revised edition 2013), and "Autism as context blindness" (2012), a book than won several awards in the USA.


Winthrop Professor Andrew Whitehouse

Professor Andrew Whitehouse directs the Autism Research Team at the Telethon Kids Institute (University of Western Australia), and is a Program Director within the Autism Cooperative Research Centre. His research team use a range of methodologies to develop new and improved methods for the early identification and intervention of children with autism.

Winthrop Professor Andrew Whitehouse will be speaking at a Keynote Symposium session.

Andrew has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, including two books, and two internationally used clinical assessments. He writes a popular column on child development for The Conversation, and he produces a weekly '60 Second Science' video on the latest in autism research ( ). He sits on the Editorial Board of four international journals, and is a member of several committees that provide advice to State and Commonwealth Governments regarding autism policy. Prior to coming to the Telethon Kids Institute, Andrew was a Fellow at the University of Oxford.


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