Prof Robert's background in autism stretches back over 30 years and includes experience as a teacher in both mainstream and special education, speech pathologist, Principal and senior manager and academic. She is a director of the Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders providing input to the board on a national autism research agenda. In 2013, Jacqui received the Asia Pacific Autism Conference (APAC) award for outstanding service to the autism community. In her current position, Professor of Autism in the Autism Centre of Excellence (ACE) at Griffith University, Jacqui is responsible for developing the research agenda focusing on research that will enhance outcomes for individuals with ASD.

Jacqui will present on Day 1 in Symposium 2 - Education - Current Research on Developing ASD Friendly Schools.

Successful Schools for Students with Autism: What makes School work for Students on the Spectrum?: Students with autism have extraordinary potential to excel and yet are some of the most vulnerable in our schools. Students with autism often find school extremely challenging and educational outcomes are poor compared to the typical population and other disability groups. From the perspective of schools, these students present a significant challenge with teachers frequently feeling they do not have the expertise or support to work with students on the spectrum. Sadly for many on the spectrum their potential is never fulfilled resulting disproportionately high rates of co-morbid mental health problems, suspension and exclusion.
How can we do better to achieve good outcomes for students on the spectrum, their families, school communities and society?
It takes a whole school community to include students on the spectrum.
We need a leadership driven approach at a systems level to ensure schools are supported to successfully include all learners and in particular those with autism.
We need to build capacity in school communities to make schools autism friendly.
We need to be able to work with individual students when building school capacity is not enough.
Sound leadership is the key at all levels to engage the whole school community and build capacity in the school to improve educational and personal outcomes for students on the spectrum. The evidence-based model presented here involves the development of a conceptual framework and practical strategies for implementation in real school communities. The model is informed by ongoing trials in real schools.
Our vision is to build school capacity to enable students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to fulfill their considerable potential.

Also presenting in this Symposium:
Dr Liz Pellicano
Prof Vicki Bitsika
Dr Trevor Clark