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Top international researchers to keynote conference

Top international researchers to keynote national autism conference

For immediate release

Two world-renown autism researchers from the University of California are headlining Autism New Zealand’s national conference in Wellington on August 19-20. The conference is proudly sponsored by Pak’ n Save Petone and Hutt City.

The theme for the conference, to be held at Shed 6 on Wellington’s waterfront, is Empowering people living with Autism, which is the vision of Autism New Zealand.

The MC will be entertainer and speaker Nick Tansley. Former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast will open the conference.

Early bird registration for the conference close on July 7.

Keynote speakers, Dr. Karen Pierce and Eric Courchesne, are directors at the University of California’s Autism Centre of Excellence. The aim of this world-leading centre is for its research to identify and treat those at risk of autism as early as 12 months.

Other speakers include Josephine Barbaro, Research Fellow at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre, La Trobe University, and co-founder of Australia’s first ‘Early Assessment Clinic’ for Autism and last year’s speaker Craig Smith, Deputy Principal of the Aspect Hunter School for Children with Autism in Newcastle, New South Wales.

While most of the 300 delegates will be health and disability sector professionals, people with autism and their families and friends are equally welcome to participate in workshops and engage with other delegates.

Workshops will cover core areas of empowerment: Empowering People with Autism, Empowering Parents and Family/Whanau, and Empowering Professionals.

Autism New Zealand chief executive Dane Dougan says the two keynote speakers make this year’s conference the strongest yet, as delegates will gain valuable insights from two key influencers within autism research.

Dr Pierce is a leading expert on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disability affecting social and communication skills. Her research spans a range of topics from early screening and detection to eye tracking. Her early detection approach, called the 1-Year Well-Baby Check-Up Approach, has resulted in rapid treatment access of toddlers.

“Dr Pierce’s research is fundamentally fitting with where we see the direction of our first ever Autism Resource Centre,” Dougan said.

“Her findings on eye tracking and brain imaging technology will be very valuable for our conference delegates, and the subsequent discussions that will be held at, and after, the conference.”

Eric Courchesne is internationally recognised for his research on the developmental neurobiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder. His ground breaking studies provide evidence that ASD is a prenatal neural disorder.

“His findings are game changing for our community and the ability to hear him first hand here in New Zealand is tremendously exciting,” Dougan said.

The Autism New Zealand website provides a full overview of the conference, programme, ticketing as well as full synopsis of the keynote speakers.


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