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Autism-Europe's 11th International Congress took place in Edinburgh, Scotland, between the 16 and 18 September 2016. It was hosted by Autism-Europe Member, the National Autistic Society (UK). The theme of the 11th edition of the congress was "Happy, Healthy, Empowered". A total of just over 1,700 delegates attended the three day event.

Autism-Europe was delighted to welcome over 1,700 participants to the 11th Autism-Europe International Congress, hosted by The National Autistic Society.

Autism-Europe’s international congresses are dedicated to sharing advances in practical and scientific knowledge about autism to as wide an audience as possible, including researchers, professionals, parents and self-advocates.

Autism-Europe’s 11th International Congress focused on the most recent developments in the field of autism, including causes, genetics, diagnosis, early intervention, treatments, education, support, employment, rights and policies, as well as many more.

The Congress also covered the evolution of knowledge, rights and services for people with autism, as well as providing insight into future developments in knowledge and technologies for those on the autism spectrum, which may soon become a part of everyday life.

The theme of the 2016 Congress was ‘Happy, healthy and empowered’. The Congress focused on the most recent developments across the field of autism, including causes, genetics, diagnosis, early intervention, treatments, education, support, employment, rights and policies, and many more. It also covered the evolution of knowledge, rights and services for autistic people, as well as providing insight into future developments in knowledge and technologies for autistic people that may soon become a part of everyday life.

‘Happy, Healthy and Empowered’

Firstly, the category ‘Happy’ discussed improvements in quality of life for people on the autism spectrum, including: wellbeing, coping with anxiety, issues such as self-harming or other behavioural concerns, strategies to improve support in schools and services, sensory difficulties and strategies to improve educational practice.

Secondly, the category ‘Healthy’ welcomed discussions about the improvement of health outcomes for people on the autism spectrum, including: diagnosis and post-diagnostic support, physical health, mental health, practical support or other aspects of improving health outcomes.

Thirdly, the ‘Empowered’ category dealt both with the empowerment of individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as the ways to equip professionals in order to support them better, such as: full participation and co-production, supporting and enabling communication, best practice models of delivery, translating theory into practice, autistic rights and policy issues and other aspects of empowerment.

The three topics mentioned above were designed to help provide coherence to the programme, but not to be overly restrictive. Autism-Europe encouraged individuals of all backgrounds to submit papers.

Keynote speakers 

The following keynote speakers, among others, participated in the congress:

  • Virginia BOVELLParent and Researcher, Ethox Centre and a panel of experts
  • Gunilla GERLAND, Independent Autism Advocate and Speaker
  • Bo HEJLSKOV ELVÉNClinical Psychologist
  • Professor Roy Richard GRINKERProfessor and Chair, Department of Anthropology. The George Washington University
  • Dr Wenn LAWSONPsychologist
  • Professor Tommy MACKAYDirector of Psychology Consultancy Services and Professor of Autism Studies. University of Strathclyde
  • Professor Liz PELLICANODirector, Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE). UCL Institute of Education, University College London
  • Dr Peter VERMEULENLecturer and Consultant. Autisme Centraal
  • Professor Fred R VOLKMAR, M.D., Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Psychology. Yale School of Medicine, Child Study Center

Workshop sessions

  • Gina DAVIESSpecialist Speech and Language Therapist and Sleep Counsellor
  • Dr Wendy KEAY-BRIGHTReader in Inclusive Design, Principal Lecturer Graphic Communication. Cardiff School of Art and Design with Ann HARBER, Autistic Adult and Katie NURSE, Key Worker. Surrey and Borders NHS Trust
  • Diederik WEVEEngineer and Autistic Adult. Stichting Autminds, PAS-Nederland, Shell

The conference was held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) on 16-18 September 2016. Situated at the heart of Scotland’s elegant and historic capital city, the EICC is one of the world’s most outstanding venues for conferences, conventions and exhibitions.

To see the full programme, please click here