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Empowering People, Launching lives

BeyondAutism Professional Conference 2022 On-Demand


At BeyondAutism we are proud to challenge by listening, changing thinking, shifting attitudes and through education. As such, for 2022 the theme for the conference was, ‘Whose decision is it anyway?’. We explored the idea of building and respecting autonomy in autistic learners, and the challenges that face the autistic community when choice is not a key stone to their learning. Talks marked * indicate where CEUs are available, there are 7 in total. You can claim your CEUs here.

On-Demand Sessions:


Day 1


Keynote: Bests interests and the good life (Danny’s story)

Dr Virginia Bovell OBE, Co-Founder, Ambitious about Autism

This talk explores the notion of “Best Interests” with regard to autism and learning disability. Using her own experience as Danny’s mother, in situations that have required decisions on his behalf, Virginia will raise questions about the role of un-examined bias (her own, as well as practitioners’ and clinicians’). The talk will include a discussion of the neurodiversity movement’s critique of ABA, the quest for autonomy, and the challenges involved in advocating for a learning-disabled adult.


The impact of racism on service provision for autistic individuals*

Sheila Sekasi, BCBA, Founder, Advancements ABA Ltd

This presentation looks at how the prevalence of institutional racism and intersectionality, can impact non-white, autistic individuals. The consideration taken by those responsible for teaching, supporting and caring for non-white, autistic individuals, when making choices for the population they work with, is explored. Along with how training and education can improve practice and the quality of service provided.


Promoting stakeholder engagement in autism research: video-based interventions for promoting social behaviour*

Dr Catherine Storey, BCBA, Lecturer in Behaviour Analysis, Queen’s University Belfast

‘Stakeholder’ can be defined as “any group or individual who is affected by or can affect the achievement of an organisations’ objectives” (Freeman, 1984). This presentation focuses on the importance of involving autistic people and other stakeholders in the research that is conducted about their lives, from planning the project through to dissemination of outcomes, to bridge the gap between research and practice and ensure that Autism research is meaningful and impactful to those individuals to whom it directly relates. Cat draws on a Campbell Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis that invited stakeholders to participate in an expert advisory group that will directly advise the project partners on the most useful and impactful data that should be extracted.

While Autism research has had many positive implications for Autistic individuals and key stakeholders, certain areas have become saturated with research, while the evidence is sparse in others. To that end, Cat discusses the importance of using Evidence and Gap maps in Autism research to determine where there are gaps in evidence which should be given priority for future research, while also identifying where there is sufficient research for systematic review and meta-analysis.


How wellbeing and choice build independence*

Jordana Smallwood, BCBA, Head of Sixth Form, BeyondAutism and Emma Price, Head of Tram House School, BeyondAutism

Jordana and Emma explore what it takes to meaningfully address wellbeing and mental health in staff and service users. It’s not enough to just say you do it. You have to plan for and create structures to support mental health and wellbeing for everyone, and understand how you will measure its success.


How to give people a voice and how it changes outcomes

Tom Bailey, Head of Therapy Services, BeyondAutism

This session looks at how we can use a Total Communication approach to enable learners to have a voice and make choices on a daily basis. Tom provides examples of how choices can be made through a variety of AAC devices and Total Communication approaches. He also takes an in-depth look at the experience of supporting a Mental Capacity Assessment to ascertain choice of living arrangement for an older learner.


My life in the future: ensuring independence for all

Elizabeth Robinson, Head of Post-19, BeyondAutism

How do we effectively prepare learners for an independent life, when often society is prejudiced against it? During this webinar we look at the idea of Preparation for Adulthood, and discuss ways in which we can creatively teach young adults to share their aspirations and dreams, while giving them the skills to become as independent as possible.


Day 2


Increasing autonomy and control among persons requiring additional support*

Dr Sandy Toogood, BEM, BCBA-D, Honorary Professor, College of Human Sciences, Bangor University

People with intellectual disabilities and autism may be deprived of opportunities and expectations for choosing that most take for granted. This talk explores the challenge of building opportunities and support within services for persons with intellectual disabilities and autism to take control of their lives. Personal routines, household customs, focused and general case teaching, together with the purposeful creation of opportunity, are proposed as mechanisms that have a history of being applied but that have not yet become common place.

Due to a technical issue, the introduction to Sandy’s session didn’t record. 


Goal formation and engaging people directly in their own functional assessment*

Dr Nick Gore, BCBA, Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability, University of Kent

Nick discusses how PBS in the UK increasingly emphasises direct engagement with people for whom behavioural support is the focus and how this is referenced within the updated UK definition of PBS (2022). He shares some research that has explored ways for people with communication complexities to generate goals for their behavioural support and contribute to functional assessments.


Engage, communicate and play: Early Years model*

Sarah Larner, BCBA, Behaviour Analyst, BeyondAutism

Sarah talks through how the unique model followed at BeyondAutism’s Early Years Service focusses on empowering parents to make decisions, as well as promoting choice and independence in their children from the beginning. The assessment tools used within the service allow for an emphasis on skills teaching; promoting learning through play. Working with parents and children at an early stage allows the foundation to be set to encourage independence and decision-making as they move through childhood into adolescence and beyond.

Developing person-centred plans for better outcomes

David Anthony, Head of Research and Learning, BeyondAutism

A slight change to the planned schedule due to one of our speakers being unable to attend on the day. We showed a replay of a webinar from January of this year. In the session, David explores what person-centred plans are, and why they are effective in building provision and support for autistic learners. We will share templates and resources which can be used with learners of all ages.


Independence is everyone’s right: how do we deliver it?*

Bobbie Stone, BCBA, Consultant Behaviour Analyst, BeyondAutism

Bobbie’s session describes how we work towards “just enough support” in our services. Bobbie advocates independence as a right, and that it has to be overtly taught and progressed over the educational life span and beyond. The challenge of course is making sure everyone, means everyone. Breaking down the societal constraints on who can gain independence is the reason behind the development of the Independence Framework at BeyondAutism. Bobbie takes us through how this was created and its impact for BeyondAutism’s learners.


Whose decision is it anyway?

Panel debate hosted by Dr Louise Denne, BCBA, Senior Research Fellow, University of Warwick

Panellists include:

  • Dr Virginia Bovell OBE, Co-Founder, Ambitious about Autism
  • Sheila Sekasi, BCBA, Founder, Advancements ABA Ltd
  • Dr Nick Gore, BCBA, Senior Lecturer in Learning Disability, University of Kent
  • Elizabeth Robinson, Head of Post-19
  • Dr Sandy Toogood, BEM, BCBA-D, Honorary Professor, College of Human Sciences, Bangor University



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