What is Autistic Intelligence?



Elaine Nicholson, founder of Action for Asperger’s, is a speaker member of Autistic Intelligence.

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Autistic Intelligence is a coming together of various professionals working in the field of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome and it’s purpose is to enlighten anyone, parent or professional, who has an interest in these areas. It was set up by author and academic Dr. Barbara Jacobs towards the end of 2010, and is set to become a superb resource. We are pleased to have Barbara as our Patron.

Dr. Barbara Jacobs had her PhD ratified last year. Her subject was autistic intelligence and whether this is recognised and accommodated in an inclusive educational framework. A small-scale study, its findings suggested that there may be failings in understanding the deeper autistic information processing problems of those who have average or higher than average intellectual ability.

One research paper showed that there was no difference in sensory processing difficulties in those classed as ‘severe’ and in those classed as ‘mild’. This is important. Barbara’s study also revealed communication shortfalls, with parents often feeling discounted and badly-informed by health, social services and education – even, at times, by voluntary agencies.

There is no need for these shortfalls to exist.  Prior to studying for a PhD, Barbara had obtained two first class degrees, one in English (1966), and one in Media (1994). A qualified (Distinction) teacher, she is also a journalist, broadcaster and researcher, lecturer, a national agony aunt, and has 14 internationally published books, including Loving Mr SpockThe Dick, Kerr’s Ladies, and the co-authored From Inclusion to Engagement: Helping Students Engage with Schooling Through Policy and Practice. She is also a book reviewer for the THS.

Included in the line up of names that have been recruited to Autistic Intelligence are:

Professor Tony Attwood is a practising clinical psychologist who was born in the West Midlands, UK, and now lives in Queensland, Australia. He is the author of many important research papers and seminal books on Asperger’s Syndrome. Generally regarded as the world’s leading expert on Asperger’s Syndrome, in that role he travels all over the world to give presentations, workshops, and deliver conference keynote addresses.

Dr Luke Beardon has been working for many years in the fields of autism and Asperger Syndrome. He completed his Doctoral thesis at Sheffield Hallam University, Asperger Syndrome and Perceived Offending Conduct: A Qualitative Study, and is now Senior Lecturer in autism at that university.

Dr Olga Bogdashina received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from Moscow Linguistics University, and her MA Ed. (Autism) from Sheffield Hallam University. For 10 years she lived in Gorlovka in Ukraine. In 1994 she established and became President of the first Autism Society in Ukraine – “From Despair to Hope”. She is Director of a voluntary day school in Gorlovka for children on the autistic spectrum. Her son, now a young man, is on the autism spectrum.

Adam Feinstein is author of A History of Autism: Conversations with the Pioneers, published in 2010. This ground-breaking book which took him on a two-year tour of the world to interview many of the earliest researchers on autism, is essential reading for those who study autism or have a family member on the spectrum. To acknowledge the importance of this book, the forthcoming NAS Professional Conference in March 2011 has made him joint keynote speaker with Lorna Wing, herself one of the original pioneers.He’s the editor of two autism websites Awares andAutismConnect, both run by Autism Cymru, Wales’s national charity for autism.

Dr Wenn Lawson MAPS, an adult with high functioning autism, presents internationally and is the author of Life behind glass;  Understanding & working with the spectrum of autism;  Build your own life;  Concepts of normality and The passionate mind: How people with autism learn, London:  Wenn explores the influence of individual neurological development with reference to  the impact upon learning styles.

Sara Lyons is a qualified teacher with over 10 years of teaching experience in mainstream primary schools and further education. She has also worked as a specialist teacher; supporting children with autism spectrum disorders in mainstream secondary schools. She has a Masters degree in Enabling Learning, specialising in inclusive education and autism spectrum disorders, and is currently applying to begin PhD studies. In 2003, Sara was diagnosed, as an adult, with Asperger Syndrome.

Elaine Nicholson ~ founder of the charity Action for Asperger’s. She offers a counselling and emotional support service for those affected by Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), be they someone with AS, or a non-Asperger’s person in a relationship: the partner of someone with Asperger’s, a sibling of an AS child, a friend. Previously qualified in management from Leicester De Montfort University, she is a certificated ‘with merit’ counsellor from Leicester University. Elaine has a Post Graduate Certificate in Asperger’s Syndrome and MA in Autism from Sheffield Hallam University.

Professor Stephen Shore was diagnosed with “Atypical Development with strong autistic tendencies”, viewed as “too sick” to be treated on an outpatient basis and recommended for institutionalization. Nonverbal until four, and with much help from his parents, teachers, and others, Stephen completed his doctoral dissertation at Boston University focused on matching best practice to the needs of people on the autism spectrum. Click here to see an abstract of the dissertation. Recently, Dr. Shore has accepted a professorship at Adelphi University teaching courses in special education and autism.

Hilde De Clercq is a lecturer, trainer, linguist and the mother of a young man with autism. She was director of the Opleidingscentrum Autisme in Antwerp, Belgium. Like her colleague, Theo Peeters, she strongly believes in respecting autistic culture. Hilde has developed many workshops worldwide on subjects such as communication, the cognitive style of people with autism, high functioning autism, Asperger Syndrome and parent-professional collaboration. She has designed Masters Degree level courses in Special Education and autism.

Liane Holliday Willey, Ed.D received her BA in Speech Communications (1981), her M.Ed (1983) at the University of Missouri, and her Ed.D in Reading Education-Psycholinguistics (1988) from Mississippi State University. She is on the autism spectrum and has a daughter diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Theo Peeters is a Belgian neurolinguist and autism specialist who founded the Centre for Training on Autism in Antwerp. With a degree in Philosophy and Literature, he also holds an MA in Neurolinguistics (University of Brussels), MSc in Human Communications (University of London) and has worked at TEACCH at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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