Autism book launch showcases how to support autistic people

The launch of Professor Sandra Jones’s new book, Growing in to Autism, highlighted work from the Autism at ACU research program and demonstrated how to create an inclusive, autism-friendly event.

Professor Jones, ACU’sPro Vice-Chancellor Research Impact, wrote Growing in to Autism after being diagnosed as autistic in her 50s.

She tells the story of gradually realising she was autistic and how she experienced the world in ways which were markedly different from neurotypical people.

In the book, she shares her path to diagnosis, the cost of masking her true self and the decision to disclose her autism while shining a light on the highs and lows of her journey.

More than 100 guests attended the launch, hosted by the Office of the Vice President and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise, at ACU’s Melbourne campus.

At the launch, the Research Impact Unit showcased the Autism at ACU research program, including autism research undertaken by undergraduate and postgraduate students.

This display focused on how research can be translated into impactful resources using different formats.

It  included a range of posters created by the Honours and HDR research students, and work currently being undertaken by ACU winter scholarship students, who are translating ACU autism research into resources for the broader community.

These include a six-episode podcast mini-series by Joana Simmons, Am I Aspie or Autistic?, which presents the findings from the team’s research on experiences of people with an Asperger’s diagnosis after the changes to the DSM-5 categories.

The event was carefully planned to be autism-friendly and lauded as an example for future events.

Key aspects included a detailed website providing a sensory map of the building and surrounds, a quiet room near the main room, sensory information, options for communication preferences, fidgets, baseball caps and ear plugs for those who needed additional support.

A quiet area was also set up in the lecture theatre to illustrate Professor Jones’s ideal low-sensory space.

Growing in to Autism by Sandra Thom-Jones is available at book stores and the Melbourne University Publishing website.

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