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Autism Open Day aims to create ‘a better future’ for people on the spectrum

Media release

Researchers from Curtin University and the Telethon Kids Institute will explore the strengths and skills that can help build a better future for people living on the spectrum at this year’s Autism Open Day.

Professor Andrew Whitehouse, Head of Autism Research at Telethon Kids Institute, Mr Aaron Sta Maria, Mrs Virginia Sta Maria, Mr Oliver Sta Maria, Professor Torbjorn Falkmer, Dean of Research in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University, Professor Sonya Girdler, Director of the Curtin Autism Research Group, the Honourable Stephen Dawson MLC Minister for Environment; Disability Services; Electoral Affairs, Professor John Cordery, Provost of Curtin University, Mr Jim Joseph, President of the Rotary Club of Scarborough, Professor Angus Buchanan, Head of School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology at Curtin University, Professor Tele Tan, Director of the Autism Academy for Software Quality Assurance

Adults and children with autism, their families and the wider community are invited to attend the free annual event, which will include presentations from autistic adults and information on current research and programs aiming to support people with autism.

Autism Open Day will mark the start of Curtin’s Research Rumble, a series of events that promote the innovative research projects being undertaken at Curtin University, from March 24 to 27.

Curtin Autism Research Group (CARG) Director Professor Sonya Girdler, from the School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology at Curtin University, said only 42 per cent of Australian adults with autism participate in employment, compared to 53 per cent with other disabilities and 83 per cent without disabilities.

“People with autism possess unique skills and qualities that include being punctual, having high attention to detail and a high tolerance for repetitive tasks, and these skills can be beneficial to many employers, especially in the technology and software development industries,” Professor Girdler said.

“It is essential to prepare and mentor young adults with autism throughout their education to ensure they are ready to tackle the workforce. Employers can play an important role in supporting autistic people in work environments, making small changes to the workplace and tailoring job descriptions to match an autistic individual’s skill set and strengths.

“Australia has historically performed poorly in creating employment opportunities for autistic individuals compared to other nations, but the combined work of researchers, employers, the autistic and the wider community is working to improve that and create a brighter future for people on the spectrum.”

Professor Girdler explained that Autism Open Day offered a great opportunity for people with autism and their families to exchange knowledge and experiences in a safe environment.

“Members of the public attending this year’s Autism Open Day will have access to a range of important information about pathway planning for school leavers with autism, quality of life tips for adults with autism, medication use amongst adults with autism, the transition to school, and peer-mentoring programs for university students with autism,” Professor Girdler said.

Autism Open Day will be held in the Technology Park Function Centre, 2 Brodie Hall Drive, Bentley, on Sunday, 24 March, from 10am to 3pm. Further information can be found online here.