From Curtin University: “Autism Open Day aims to create ‘a better future’ for people on the spectrum”

From Curtin University

18 March 2019

Lauren Sydoruk
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Researchers from Curtin University and the Telethon Kids Institute will explore the strengths and skills that can help build a better future for people living on the spectrum at this year’s Autism Open Day.


Adults and children with autism, their families and the wider community are invited to attend the free annual event, which will include presentations from autistic adults and information on current research and programs aiming to support people with autism.

Autism Open Day will mark the start of Curtin’s Research Rumble, a series of events that promote the innovative research projects being undertaken at Curtin University, from March 24 to 27.

Curtin Autism Research Group (CARG) Director Professor Sonya Girdler, from the School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology at Curtin University, said only 42 per cent of Australian adults with autism participate in employment, compared to 53 per cent with other disabilities and 83 per cent without disabilities.

“People with autism possess unique skills and qualities that include being punctual, having high attention to detail and a high tolerance for repetitive tasks, and these skills can be beneficial to many employers, especially in the technology and software development industries,” Professor Girdler said.

“It is essential to prepare and mentor young adults with autism throughout their education to ensure they are ready to tackle the workforce. Employers can play an important role in supporting autistic people in work environments, making small changes to the workplace and tailoring job descriptions to match an autistic individual’s skill set and strengths.

“Australia has historically performed poorly in creating employment opportunities for autistic individuals compared to other nations, but the combined work of researchers, employers, the autistic and the wider community is working to improve that and create a brighter future for people on the spectrum.”

Professor Girdler explained that Autism Open Day offered a great opportunity for people with autism and their families to exchange knowledge and experiences in a safe environment.

“Members of the public attending this year’s Autism Open Day will have access to a range of important information about pathway planning for school leavers with autism, quality of life tips for adults with autism, medication use amongst adults with autism, the transition to school, and peer-mentoring programs for university students with autism,” Professor Girdler said.

Autism Open Day will be held in the Technology Park Function Centre, 2 Brodie Hall Drive, Bentley, on Sunday, 24 March, from 10am to 3pm. Further information can be found online here.

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Curtin University (formerly known as Curtin University of Technology and Western Australian Institute of Technology) is an Australian public research university based in Bentley and Perth, Western Australia. The university is named after the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, John Curtin, and is the largest university in Western Australia, with over 58,000 students (as of 2016).

Curtin was conferred university status after legislation was passed by the Parliament of Western Australia in 1986. Since then, the university has been expanding its presence and has campuses in Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and Mauritius. It has ties with 90 exchange universities in 20 countries. The University comprises five main faculties with over 95 specialists centres. The University formerly had a Sydney campus between 2005 & 2016. On 17 September 2015, Curtin University Council made a decision to close its Sydney campus by early 2017.

Curtin University is a member of Australian Technology Network (ATN), and is active in research in a range of academic and practical fields, including Resources and Energy (e.g., petroleum gas), Information and Communication, Health, Ageing and Well-being (Public Health), Communities and Changing Environments, Growth and Prosperity and Creative Writing.

It is the only Western Australian university to produce a PhD recipient of the AINSE gold medal, which is the highest recognition for PhD-level research excellence in Australia and New Zealand.

Curtin has become active in research and partnerships overseas, particularly in mainland China. It is involved in a number of business, management, and research projects, particularly in supercomputing, where the university participates in a tri-continental array with nodes in Perth, Beijing, and Edinburgh. Western Australia has become an important exporter of minerals, petroleum and natural gas. The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Woodside-funded hydrocarbon research facility during his visit to Australia in 2005.