Benison O'Reilly

Benison O'Reilly is a pharmacist and medical writer and the mother of three boys aged 21 to 14, the youngest of whom is on the autism spectrum. Benison is the author and co-author of three books, including the bestselling Australian Autism Handbook (Jane Curry Publishing 2008, 2013). She is co-author of Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine's online education module, 'Management of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence' and her freelance articles on autism have been published in Sydney's Child, The Guardian and Mamamia.

Benison will present on Day 2 in Symposium 7 - Transforming Family Support.

Taking the Middle Path - One Family's Approach to Autism: The middle path is golden, according to the teachings of Aristotle. But in an increasingly polarised autism community, can we find the middle way? At one extreme there are parents who perceive autism in terms of tragedy — a hijacking of their 'normal' child — and are frequently susceptible to the lure of non-evidence-based 'cures'. Opposing them is an increasingly vocal neurodiversity movement, which regards autism as a difference not a disability and seeks only societal acceptance. In such an environment is it possible for families to negotiate a middle path, acknowledging their child's challenges and encouraging them to develop the skills to function in a neurotypical world, while avoiding the language of rejection or presenting autism only in terms of its deficits? Combining evidence-based science with personal narrative, this presentation recounts the decade-long journey one family has attempted along that middle road, culminating in their rather unorthodox approach to tackling the challenging teenage years.

Also presenting in this Symposium:
Dr Yuan Gao
Dr Kathy Ellem