Making Sense of Autism


A one-day conference suitable for teachers, teacher assistants, practitioners and parents/carers. The conference includes key note presentations by experts in autism research, participant discussions, and hands-on activities.


Autism can be hugely variable, from one child to the next, and there is much about how autistic children learn best that we do not yet understand. The combination of this variability and uncertainty often makes it very difficult for educators to know how best to support autistic children in their classrooms. Myths and misunderstandings abound, with even experienced teachers often finding themselves relying on unreliable sources for their information about what works best for each individual child.

This one-day conference will consider and discuss what we can do in the face of this confusion, and how teachers can gain the useful information they need in order to help autistic students in their classrooms. More specifically we will cover:

  • Up-to-date scientific knowledge of what we know about autism
  • Information on the ways that autistic children can present differently in classroom contexts, depending on their own specific characteristics and the classroom environment
  • Insight into how these differences might impact upon their learning
  • Recommendations for how educators can best support autistic children, in partnership with their families
For parents and carers, we will consider how we can make sure the environment we live in is not distressing and what we can do to help autistic children and young people in their daily interactions.


Date: Face-to-face presentations / workshops will be held on Friday, 3 December 2018, 9:00am- 3:30pm (5.5 hrs excluding lunch)


Participants are required to complete an online reflective experience about their personal experience prior to the conference (1 hr). Participants will also be required to complete an online feedback and reflection post conference (o.5 hrs). The online activities are compulsory for teachers. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to participate.

Registration Fee:

Teachers: AUD 350 (GST incl.). Enrol on this page.

Others: Eligible for a 30% discount. Contact us at to enrol.

Further info:

Please see Terms of Use & Enrolment


9:00am – 9:15am Registration
9:15am – 10:00am Talk by Prof. Liz Pellicano on “Making sense of autism”. During this initial talk, Prof. Pelican will provide an introduction to up-to-date scientific knowledge about autism, with special focus on autism in the classroom.
10:00am – 10:45am Group-based activity related to sensory differences.

  • Participants with take part in a fun and engaging activity to get them thinking about autistic students’ life at school – and especially the sensory differences that are now known to be a core element of autism.
  • Participants will work in groups to discuss and explore people’s sensory differences using a sensory profiling tool to gain a sense of an individual’s sensory preferences and challenges in touch, taste, sound, smell and sight and discuss how these differences – even amongst neurotypical adults – could impact upon learning.
10:45am – 11:15am Coffee/tea break – Opportunity to network
11:15am – 12:00pm Talk by Dr. Wenn Lawson on “Attending to individual children’s needs”. Dr. Lawson will hi light the importance of developing trusting – interdependent – connections between teachers and autistic students to understand their specific needs and strengths.
12:00pm – 1:00pm Case-study discussion groups. This group-based activity will allow attendees to discuss one of 5 key case scenarios of pupils relevant to their stage (early years, primary, secondary), which details a challenging situation, and, in particular, to consider possible ways of managing the situation and supporting the students’ learning.
1:00pm – 1:45pm Lunch – opportunity to network
1:45pm – 3:00pm Talk by Dr. Amanda Tattersall on “Promoting parent-teacher relationships”. Dr. Tattersall will consider the importance of developing strong relationships with families, which is critical in promoting the learning and wellbeing of autistic children and young people – both from a personal perspective (as a parent of a young child on the autism spectrum) and from her internationally recognised research expertise in community organising.
3:00pm – 3:30pm Whole group reflection and further clarifying questions.

Establishment of ongoing networking opportunities.

Thank you and close.



Prof. Liz Pellicano
Liz recently joined the Department of Educational Studies at Macquarie University having previously been Professor of Autism Education and Director of the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE) at University College London. An internationally-regarded experimental scientist and trained educational psychologist, she is committed to understanding the distinctive opportunities and challenges faced by autistic children, young people and adults and tracing their impact on everyday life – at home, at school and out-and-about in the community. She has been consistently dedicated both to ensuring that the outcomes of her research are as influential as possible in education policy-making and to enhancing public understanding of autism, its challenges and opportunities.
Dr. Wenn Lawson
Wenn is a well-respected and highly knowledgeable expert on autism. He combines his lived experience insights with professional knowledge as a psychologist, lecturer and author. At 2 yrs, he was misdiagnosed as intellectually disabled, at school of being incapable of doing as he was told, at 17 yrs misdiagnosed with schizophrenia; in and out of Mental Health Institutions; eventually age 42 yrs, diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition (ASC), ADHD, dyspraxia and learning difficulties. Being on the autism spectrum, Wenn is passionate about the rights of those who so often cannot speak for themselves.
Dr. Amanda Tattersall
Amanda is an internationally recognised scholar and community organiser. She founded the Sydney Alliance in 2007, bringing to Australia a new way of connecting communities – called community organising. Amanda is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Sydney and also currently hosts the ChangeMakers Podcast, a high-production value podcast that shares stories about people trying to change the world. Amanda is also the mother of a child on the autism spectrum.

NESA Accreditation

Completing this course will contribute to 7 hours of NESA Registered Professional Development addressing 6.2.2, 6.4.2 and 7.4.2 from Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.