By Menziwa Msibi
The Centre for Health and Human Performance (CHHP) at the North-West University (NWU), in collaboration with Autism South Africa and the South Africa-Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (SA-ACAPAP) hosted the eighth National Autism Symposium from 8 to 10 September in Potchefstroom.
This annual symposium is currently the only of its kind in South Africa. It serves as a platform for healthcare professionals, educators, social workers, autistic adults as well as parents of autistic children to share and practice-based evidence on autism and co-morbid disorders.
The event also serves as a networking opportunity - fostering change at clinical, family, and community levels in the North West province as well as surrounding regions.
This year the symposium was in person and in the format of practical workshops.
Supporting the theme of the event – “Rethink, Reignite”, a wide range of topics were discussed. These included rethinking autistic communication, practical strategies to set your neurodiverse child up for success, art and music therapy, feeding management plans and many more.
According to Hanlie Degenaar, Care2Kids manager and senior speech-language therapist at the CHHP, the symposium was well attended and a great success. “The various expert speakers provided valuable practical advice, and participants actively engaged and shared their experiences.”
More about the hosts
The Centre for Health and Human Performance (CHHP) forms part of the NWU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and is situated on the Potchefstroom Campus. It offers various services, ranging from Care2Kids that offers specialised, multi-disciplinary services to children 0-18 years and their families, to clinical, corporate and elite sport services.
The South Africa-Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (SA-ACAPAP) is an association for child and adolescent psychiatry and allied professions. It is open to anyone who works with children, for instance psychiatrists, paediatricians, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, educationists and nurses. The association strives to improve the mental health of children and adolescents, encourages research in child and adolescent mental health and provides contact between professionals. Autism South Africa (A;SA) aspires to achieving a society in which persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder enjoy all the rights and opportunities to meet their needs and fulfil their potential throughout their lives as loved and valued members of their families and communities. It offers support to autistic people and their families, advocates for their rights and builds relationships with other non-profit and professional organisations and universities to collaborate on research.