Teacher and advocate Charie Roberts believes there needs to be a major rethink of how classrooms operate, and that will be her main message when she addresses a forum in Wodonga next week.
The peak body for autism in Victoria, Amaze, has been funded by the state government to run events in six regional areas.
A free forum will take place in Wodonga on November 13, focusing on education, employment and the NDIS.
Ms Roberts will be among the speakers to bring their experience living with autism to the conversation.
The Regional Disability Advocacy Service board member was a disability and community services teacher at Wodonga TAFE for 10 years, and now works for MP Training and Recruitment in Wodonga.
“I want to challenge what the belief is about what a classroom should look like and what we think being inclusive is,” she said.
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“The idea people have to sit forward and look forward to actually be listening is an old and antiquated idea.
“I’ve run workshops where kids have been under the desk, with earphones in and are still engaging and asking questions – they’re in a comfortable environment.
“The changes we’re talking about aren’t expensive or difficult, but about what a person requires and making it inclusive for everybody.”
Amaze chief executive Fiona Sharkie believed Border attendees would gain value from speaking with panelists, particularly about the NDIS.
“Close to 30 per cent, or one in three people, receiving funded support on the NDIS have a primary diagnosis of autism,” she said.
“We also know 85 per cent of Australians have personal contact with an autistic person, whether it’s a relative, friend or someone they teach.
“It’s an important issue and we’re delighted to bring these great speakers and our resources to the country.
“Participants will walk away with a better understanding of autism, learn new strategies and how to apply them to their own lives and have the opportunity to pose questions to some of the most informed advocates in the country.”
Ms Roberts, who will be joined by other Border speakers, urged Border families to attend.
“We’ve got some very strong advocates in our region,” she said.
“Employment and education are absolutely possible for all people who are autistic.
“It’s society that often holds people back, but we’ve got more and more organisations that are looking at the ‘cans’ and not the can’ts’.”
- The forum is at The Cube, Wodonga from 9am. For more: http://www.amaze.org.au/events-home/.