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9AM – 4.30PM


At Autism Anglia we are extremely proud to be bringing together ten fantastic speakers with a shared belief that people on the autism spectrum deserve the same life chances as their peers.

We currently live in a country where 17% of autistic children have been suspended from school, 70% of adults on the autism spectrum say that they are not getting the help they need from social services and just 16% of autism adults are in full-time employment (Reid, B. 2011).

The Life Chances Conference will focus on attitudes towards neurodiversity and how best to support people on the autism spectrum. Esteemed professionals and autistic individuals will share research and ideas on continuing to develop a society where people on the autism spectrum are valued, supported and celebrated as integral members of a diverse world, from childhood through to older age.


Who is this conference for?

  • Education professionals
  • Local authority professionals
  • Police
  • Social workers
  • Service industry workers
  • Academics


Early Bird Ticket - £99
Autism Anglia Member Early Bird Ticket - £79

Lunch included

(£129 / £99 after 31.07.2017)

To book your place please email



Lewis Gardens

High Street






9.00 – 9.30


9.30 – 9.40


9.40 – 10.10

Robert Chapman

Autism as a Political Identity

10.10 – 10.40

Annie Sands

On Being a Mother

10.40 – 11.00

Tea Break

11.00 – 12.00

Jane Smart

School Techniques and Strategies

Thomas Madar

An Individual Perspective

Janine Booth

Autism in the Workplace

Chief Inspector Russ Cole

Autism and the Criminal Justice System

12.00 – 12.45


12.45 – 13.45

Sarah Hendrickx

Women and Autism

13.45 – 14.00

Tea Break

14.00 – 15.00

Corinna Laurie

Sensory Strategies

Peter Street

A Late Diagnosis

15.15 – 16.15

Damian Milton

Impaired Compared to What?



Speakers on the Day

Dr. Damian Milton: Impaired Compared to What?

“In 2005 my son was diagnosed as autistic. This began another journey that led me to being diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum myself in 2009 and that there existed a whole ‘neurodiversity movement’ and paradigm for thinking and talking about autism, one that perhaps unsurprisingly, was not so different from my own.”


Dr. Damian Milton is the Head of Autism Knowledge and Expertise at the National Autistic Society, alongside Dr. Judith Brown, and is a member of the scientific and advisory committee for Research Autism. He holds a number of academic qualifications in a range of subjects: Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology, Education, and has a number of years of experience as a lecturer in both Further Education and Higher Education.





Sarah Hendrickx: Women and Autism

Sarah is autistic with a late diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome in her 40s. She has a lifetime of personal experience of autism, its mental and physical impact and how to live with it and shares this during training along with her professional expertise.


Sarah is an independent specialist consultant, trainer and coach in Autism Spectrum Conditions. She has delivered over 1000 autism training workshops to all types of professionals from educators and care providers to counsellors and lawyers and speaks at conferences worldwide. Sarah will be speaking in Bhutan, Australia and the US in 2017.


She currently works with part of the UK Government supporting autistic employees and also with schools and colleges to support autistic children and young people. She was Special Advisor to the Autism Education Trust DoE funded Autism Training Programme (Post 16) and South East Hub for the delivery of the training. Sarah also ran an autism employment project for 4 years at Abingdon and Witney College.


Sarah has worked with more than 400 autistic individuals as a coach and consultant in care, schools, criminal justice and employment.


Sarah has written 6 books on Asperger syndrome and related conditions on employment, sex and relationships, alcoholism, girls and women on the Autism Spectrum and also on the adult neuro-diversity spectrum. She was featured in a BBC Horizon documentary on autism and in a number of national magazines.




Peter Street: A Late Diagnosis

"After 20 minutes, it becomes clear that Street has the most astonishing life story of anyone I've ever interviewed." John Harris, The Guardian. 


Peter Street is a national and international poet and writer. His life has been brutal, turbulent, wonderful, adventurous and resilient all thanks to his then undiagnosed autism.


At Junior School, Peter was beaten, abused and made to stand in waste baskets. He left school barely able to read and write, took any job ranging from chef to gravedigger and worked with bare-knuckle fighters, ex-marines and bouncers at some of the country’s most notorious nightclubs.


In 1983 Peter suffered a serious spinal injury. This gave him the chance to start over. During his nine months in hospital, he became friends with an English teacher who taught him the basics. Peter’s life as a poet then began.


In 1987 Matt Simpson, a senior lecturer and poet at Liverpool University, became Peter’s private tutor and Peter became a writer in residence with “The Windows”- a community arts project in Liverpool. Since he has worked as a poet in residence for youth clubs, schools and prisons, has been a war poet for the BBC and has toured through mid-west America and Europe. Peter has published six books, one of which was published after winning a grant from the prestigious Royal Literature Fund, with past beneficiaries including DH Lawrence and James Joyce.


“My life made sense when in 2016 I was diagnosed (at the age of 66) as being on the autistic spectrum. It had a dramatic positive effect on me and my family. I now know none of the beatings or abuse were my fault.”


Peter will be in conversation with a member of Autism Anglia staff about the effect of a diagnosis later in life, the importance of gaining an autism diagnosis and why professionals must not rule out the potential of undiagnosed autism in adults.




Corinna Laurie: Sensory Strategies

Corinna qualified as an Occupational Therapist in 1993 and has specialised in the area of sensory processing for the last 23 years. She is skilled in a variety of paediatric evaluation tools and treatment approaches, including Sensory Integration, Therapeutic Listening® and Neurodevelopmental techniques. She also has a diploma in Aromatherapy and Massage.


Corinna currently works for the National Autistic Society as an independent practitioner and is director of Evolve-Children’s Therapy Services Ltd. In addition, Corinna provides clinical training and presents nationally to a wide variety of audiences and establishments.


Corinna is the author of "Sensory Strategies- practical ways to help children and young people with autism learn and achieve", an NAS publication.

This book further expands on the content of today’s session and provides a practical resource for both teacher and parents of children with Sensory Processing Disorders.




Robert Chapman: Autism as a Political Identity.

"At around the age of 6, I was utterly fascinated by the stickers that came attached to pieces of fruit… For those fruits we did buy, the stickers would be duly plucked, arranged, and pasted in a precious little book that I either carried around the house or kept hidden under my bed.


…Autism needs to be re-conceptualized as a meaningful social category that is, more than anything else, political. Now, we can offer the fruit sticker collectors of the world not a disorder, but a culture.”


Robert Chapman is a ‘neurodivergent’ academic with an interest in radical politics. He is currently working on his PHD on the ethics of autism at the University of Essex, and teaches part-time at King’s College, London.


Robert’s blog, Intersectional Neurodiversity, challenges dominant representations of autism and neurodiversity, and highlights how the struggles of autistic persons intersect with other neurodivergent categories, and, in turn, with other disabled, excluded, oppressed groups globally.




Annie Sands: On Being a Mother

Annie has worked for Autism Anglia for 5 years, originally in post as the Suffolk Autism Co-ordinator, setting up the Autism Room in Sudbury. Annie has a passion for welfare rights and has worked in the field for 25 years. Annie has been involved in campaigning for better understanding of Autism and Welfare Reform.


Annie is a single parent and has two sons on the autism spectrum. She understands the difficult and challenging path this can be for parents. Annie is passionate about injustice and empowering individuals who may not be able to speak up for themselves.


“As a mum of two lads who have autism, there are daily challenges. Both my sons suffer with additional mental health issues and learning difficulties. However, Sebastian, 18, is a committed Anglican who loves attending church every week, and is going to spend time at a monastery later this year! Alex is 24, enjoys freestyle rapping and successfully completed training in the security sector. He is hoping to gain employment in the near future. I look forward to sharing with you the trials, tribulations and triumphs of being a single parent of two sons with autism.”




Janine Booth: Autism in the Workplace

Janine Booth is the author of 'Autism Equality in the Workplace: removing barriers and challenging discrimination' (JKP, 2016). She is an active trade unionist and co-Chair of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Disabled Workers' Committee.


Janine designs and runs training courses on autism and neurodiversity for trade unions and voluntary sector organisations. She is also a railway worker, a poet and an author. 




Thomas Madar: A Personal Perspective

Thomas was diagnosed with autism in 1960 at the age of three. His parents had difficulty finding a suitable education placement; however found that a mainstream boarding school with a class size of no more fifteen pupils was the most successful strategy for his condition. Since leaving school in the 70s, Thomas has gained a degree and a collection of post-graduate qualifications.


Poor social skills and other manifestations of autism/Asperger Syndrome resulted in a very difficult start to Thomas’ career life. Eventually, he learned what areas to avoid, and what areas to aim for, and for more than a decade has enjoyed a reasonable degree of success. Until 2008, Thomas worked as a software developer for an information systems company called Steria. Following compulsory redundancy, Thomas studied for a Masters in Web Development and despite graduating with a distinction, work was hard to find, and long spells of unemployment followed. In 2014 Thomas came to the attention of Specialisterne, an agency specialising in employment of people on the autism spectrum, and through them obtained work as a software engineer. Following a successful two years, compulsory redundancy struck again. On this occasion, he discovered Auticon, an IT consultancy specialising in employing people on the autism spectrum on account of their distinctive abilities, and has now been offered employment at this consultancy.


Thomas’ talk will focus on the impact of his autism spectrum condition on aspects of his life. Both positive and negative aspects of living with the condition will be discussed, whilst addressing the lack of understanding which causes autism to be viewed as a disability.




Jane Smart: School Techniques and Strategies

Jane Smart is the Head Teacher of Autism Anglia’s specialist co-educational school for children and young people aged 3 – 19 on the autism spectrum.


Jane has worked for Autism Anglia since 1992, initially as a teacher then as Deputy Head, and now as Head of Education. Before working at Doucecroft, Jane taught in a secondary school on Humberside and then moved to Essex to work in a large generic special school. She has also taught in mainstream primary.


Jane has a degree in History, a Post graduate certificate in Special Education and an Advanced Diploma in Special Education.




Chief Inspector Russ Cole: Autism and the Criminal Justice System

Russ is the District Commander for Tendring and has worked for Essex Police since 1989.


Russ started his career in Clacton and is honoured to be back at the helm in Tendring, in what is a very busy role.


The District is an area that he cares passionately about; its community, the diversity, complex challenges and changing profile of modern policing are set against a back drop of needing to work in greater harmony with partnerships to achieve better outcomes.


Delivering reductions in crime, bringing offenders to justice and improving satisfaction are his priorities, however equally as important is tailoring poling methods to local needs of individuals and groups.


Russ is honoured to attend the presentation and looks forward to meeting you all on the day.




If you have any further questions about the Life Chances Conference, please contact Jonathan Marriott on 01206 577678 or