Pre-Conference Masterclasses (19 June 2019)

All Pre-Conference masterclasses will be held at:

Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) / Pathlight School Campus 1
5 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10
Singapore 569739

We are pleased to offer discounted rate of SGD132 to applicant who has signed up for Main Conference. Standard ticket price of SGD268 will be for applicants keen to only attend the Pre-Conference masterclass. Please click on the title of masterclass to read more about respective programme description.

Masterclass Topic by Dr Peter Vermeulen:

Autism, Friendship and Other Social Relationships: Clarifying the Challenge and the Challenge of Clarifying        

Program Description:
Engaging in relationships, especially close relationships such as friendship, is a tough challenge for people with an autism spectrum conditions. Many of the relational skills and knowledge that neurotypical people seem to develop effortlessly and spontaneously are clogged by the way an autistic brain understands the world. Most people with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome have a desire to relate to other people and many of them want to have friends. Unfortunately, for them, the road from desire to successful relationships is often strewn with obstacles.

In the first part of the Masterclass, we explore the challenges people with ASD are facing when building relationships. We will describe how many of these challenges are linked to the specific way of information processing in the autistic brain, which we describe as context blindness. Relational competence is not just a matter of social skills, Theory of Mind or knowing the ‘hidden and unspoken’ rules. Since there are no fixed scripts or rules in friendship and other social relationships, relational competence is first and most of all a matter of context sensitive guessing.

Building upon this knowledge we will outline in the second part of the Masterclass the general principles for helping people with ASD to understand and build relationships. How can we teach them to do all the smart guessing involved in relationships? In particular, we will focus on the importance of clarifying for people with ASD the abstract, vague and context sensitive rules and ingredients of friendship and other close relationships. We will also show that we should clarify even those things that most people think of as being obvious. And we will demonstrate how we can teach, talk or counsel about the abstract issues in relationships in a concrete and autism friendly way. We will illustrate with examples from a new psycho-education program that we developed for youngsters and adults with ASD, named “autism@relations”.

Masterclass Topic by Prof Christine Bigby:

Enabling Engagement of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in Meaningful Activity and Social Relationships

Program Description:
Active Support is an evidence-based practice to enable people with intellectual disabilities to be engaged in meaningful activities and social relationships. It is a way of working applicable to support at home as well as in the community. If used consistently by staff or family members Active Support has been shown to increase the time spent participating in household and community-based activities, and improve skills, choice and self-determination. This workshop will introduce the concept of Active Support, provide some of the evidence about its effectiveness and illustrate with video material the four essentials – Every moment has potential - little and often – graded assistance and maximizing choice and control.

Masterclass Topic by Prof Mark Brosnan:

Digital Technologies for Autism: Integration or Inclusion?

Program Description:
What are the aims of digital interventions developed for autism? Are technologies developed to support the weaknesses associated with autism so that autistic people can integrate with the social world? This assumes a deficit model of autism, that it is something that needs to be ‘fixed’ to facilitate integration. An example may be an app that teaches autistic people to recognise emotional expressions.

Or are technologies developed to enable the inclusion of autistic people? This assumes that the social world contains barriers for autistic people, and that technology can help overcome these barriers so that they are included. An example may be a robot that creates an environment in which autistic and non-autistic people can contribute equally.

This session will explore a range of digital technologies developed as interventions for autism to develop our understanding of both integration and inclusion.

Masterclass Topic by Prof Patricia Howlin:

Interventions for Adults with Autism      

Program Description:
This masterclass addresses the range of evidence-based interventions and the research findings, taking a closer look at their long-term effect on autistic adults.

The role and extent of research on impacting the real life functioning on the adult life of individuals with autism and their families will also be discussed. There will be a particular focus in the areas of well-being, overall quality of life and the possible enablers and barriers for meaningful research.

Case studies showing strategies that can be utilised in real-life situations will also be shared at this masterclass.  These case studies seek to illustrate what can be done to improve social competence and inclusion, minimise mental health issues, reduce burden on families, and enhance the well-being in individuals with autism throughout adulthood.

Masterclass Topic by Dr Damian Milton:

Building Connections with Autistic People

Program Description:
This workshop session will explore differing ways of conceiving of autism and the problems that autistic people face in navigating everyday life. 

Historically, autism has been viewed in terms of how it has appeared to non-autistic people. This workshop gives an insider account of autism, as the presenter is both autistic himself and a parent to an autistic teenager with severe learning disabilities. Participants will be introduced to ideas such as an ‘interest model of autism’ and the ‘double empathy problem’, the growing evidence-base to support these theories, as well as their implications for practice and support strategies. This workshop will also give practical advice in regard to designing environments to better cater for the needs of autistic people.