Neurodiversity Day - 19 August 2019

Monday, 9 September 2019

cover-neurodiversity-day-programmeWith thanks to Akari Miyamoto (MOE) for this summary…

The Ministry of Education hosted a Neurodiversity Day at Mātauranga House in Wellington on Monday 19 August 2019. Werry Workforce Whāraurau partnered with the Ministry to deliver this event. 

Hon Tracey Martin, Associate Minister for Education opened the event with her speech to an audience of around 130 people. The audience was made up of representatives from NGOs and sector groups supporting the whānau of young children with neurodiverse needs. Staff from Oranga Tamariki and the Ministries of Health and Education also attended the event.

The objective for Neurodiversity Day was for practitioners to increase their understanding of the needs of family and whānau of neurodiverse children and to learn how to involve them in the planning and delivery of support.

Keynote speakers on this day were (click to view presentations):
►  Dr. Elizabeth Doell, Senior Lecturer Massey University,
“Neurodiversity and early communication development: empowering parents and whānau to navigate new pathways.”

►  Matt Frost, Ministry of Education and Anne Best,  Resource Teacher Learning & Behaviour Cluster 31 Manager,
“Support for neurodiverse students: student and teacher reflections.”

►  Dr. Andrew Marshall, Clinical Leader, Community Paediatrician,
"Autism Spectrum Diagnosis and Management”

►  Dr. Anita Gibbs, Associate Professor University of Otago,
"Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder: hidden neuro-disability, its impacts on families and practice that helps.”

►  Dr. Katie Weastell, Clinical Psychologist, Hutt Valley District Board,
"Raising a child on the autism spectrum in Aotearoa: research on the challenges and growth experienced by parents and caregivers.”

►  Julie Hook and Jill Ford, Ministry of Education,
“A Good Start in Life Project”

Click here to view: TKI Resources

The Neurodiversity Day made an important contribution to all of the Incredible Years programmes delivered by the Ministry. The suite of programmes provides targeted support for children, parents, whānau and teachers. Across the IY programmes, the goal is for parents and teachers to work as partners to provide better outcomes for children. 

This event also supported the Learning Support Action Plan’s priority to strengthen support for neurodiverse children and young people, and the priority to focus on early intervention. The event also provided an opportunity for cross-sector professional development. 

It was great to see such positive feedback from people who attended:

  • “That’s the best training I’ve been to. It was so interesting.” Jason Birch, Parentline.
  • “It was great to see the interest in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder through the panel discussions." Kirsty Griffith, FASD-CAN.
  • “Thank you for inviting us. We were very blessed to be a part of, and included in, this conversation. We’ve learnt heaps.” Betty Pulefolau, Pasifika Support Autism Group.
  • “It’s good to be reminded of the importance of empathy and compassion for families when we are working on the frontline.” Lucia Kasiano, Te Taeaomanino Trust.
  • “It’s a good reminder to keep families and children at the centre and remember that they are the experts on their own lives. That principle is the essence of Incredible Years - building relationships with families to support children.” Lucy Gregory, Incredible Years.
  • “We need to work closely with people who are connected with their community to build trust.” Jo Sutton, Children’s Autism Foundation.
  • “My son Tahu has autism. He’s 21 this year.  The forum affirmed what I already knew as a parent and education professional, that diverse realities require diverse solutions.  There is more than one way to do things and that is a lesson for all teachers, educators and community members.” Bentham Ohia, Ministry of Education.