Aspies all over the country are thinking hard about how to make a National "Body" for us work, where we would establish a HQ and so on. News of a Conference in Hamilton next July with a "hui" (meeting) especially for Aspies, would seem to be an ideal time to bring all these ideas together and launch a new "waka" (canoe) for us all to sail in!
We have two new trustees, Debbie Kokay (lived experience and knowledge of FAS plus ASD), and Emma Goodall, a PhD student and consultant on ASD in schools and families.
Last month Leith and some other Aspies from Christchurch and around the country converged on Auckland to attend the AutismNZ National Conference, which is held every two years. The next one should be held in Christchurch, providing the earthquake rebuild has provided us with an appropriate venue by then!
Leith made a joint presentation with Gabrielle Hogg, of Hastings, on "Aspies and the Social Media"- similar to the one they gave at Brisbane in February.
One of the highlights of the Conference for Leith was the presence of Dennis Debbaudt (www.autismriskmanagement.com) from Florida. After the debacle in 2011 of the young aspie wrongfully prosecuted for looting after the February 2011 earthquake, Aspiehelp felt that some high-profile training about ASD for our First Responders (Police etc) would be a fitting outcome. Aspiehelp arranged for Dennis to be free to come and speak at the Conference, and AutismNZ and Cookie Time came on board to bring him to New Zealand. Dennis was one of the keynote speakers and also had private discussions with senior Police Trainers and Judges. Dennis will be providing training materials to the NZ Police Force and ongoing support will hopefully involve Aspies from within New Zealand.
Although beset by a certain amount of PTSD related to the Christchurch earthquakes, plus other health issues common to older folk, we are excited about what 2013 will bring in the development of our service. In addition to re-opening our premises, Leith and Jan are writing a Peer Mentoring Manual for Aspies and also a training programme for the volunteers who will be answering our toll-free telephone line.
The Aspiehelp Social meetings are l