Keynote Speakers 2017

Here are some of our amazing Keynote Speakers for Altogether Autism Conference 2017. Register now…

                           Featuring a host of thought provoking speakers .
Sue Kinnear

Sue Kinnear

Sue Kinnear

Sue Kinnear has a master’s degree in education and is a specialist teacher with an endorsement in autism. She currently works as a Special Education Needs Coordinator at Hutt Intermediate School.

Kinnear is passionate about the genuine and authentic inclusion of students with special needs in mainstream classrooms, in particular, developing effective strategies to provide support for students in three key areas: transition to intermediate school, transitions while at intermediate school and finally transition to a chosen college.

During her keynote presentation, Kinnear will be sharing the systems, strategies and practice that she has established to support transitions at the school where she currently works, with an emphasis on the importance of establishing strong, open relationships with everyone supporting the student and to develop comprehensive practice that constantly reflects and identifies next steps for growth.

Read Sue Kinnear’s article about how she established a sensory room in her school in issue one of the Altogether Autism Journal 2017.


Jason Edgecombe

Jason Edgecombe

Jason Edgecombe is an entrepreneur, speaker, mentor, gamer, martial artist, medieval reenactor, husband and father. And he has high-functioning autism.

He’s also the founder and a mentor at Breaking the Label, a Tauranga-based organisation that offers one-on-one and small group mentoring and personal development to people on the autism spectrum.

The aim of Edgecombe’s peer mentoring service is not to help people manage or accept their ‘special needs’ and its limitations, but to identify and develop the strengths and amazing talents that each person on the spectrum has to offer.

The title of Edgecombe’s presentation is “The journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step: How I went from hero to zero and back again”.

Read our story about Jason Edgecombe in issue 2 of the Altogether Autism Journal 2016 or watch his presentation from TEDx Tauranga 2015.



Professor Rita Jordan

Professor Rita Jordan

Professor Rita Jordan has been at the forefront of autism education, teaching in mainstream and special schools, including as Deputy Principal of a school for pupils with autism. She has also taught in universities on special needs, language development, clinical linguistics, education, and cognitive science.  Since 1993, she has developed a number of programmes in autism studies at the University of Birmingham.

Prof Jordan has served on task forces and working parties to review evidence and offer advice in relation to ASD. For 10 years, she served as chair of the Autism Accreditation Services for Children committee in the UK. She was also a consultant to the expert committee on the Education and Social Inclusion of Children and Young People with Autism for the Council of Europe.

She helped establish the journal Autism: the International Journal of Research and Practice and was its founding editor for 11 years. She also established the Good Autism Practice journal, GAP, and served on the editorial board of three other journals.

In 2007 Prof Jordan was awarded an OBE for her services to special needs education and in 2014 was given a lifetime achievement award from UK organisation National Autistic Society for her services to autism education.



Peter Dowrick

Peter Dowrick

Peter Dowrick will speak on the theory of feedforward as a cognitive-behavioural principle of learning with advantages for autism.

Dowrick is a registered psychologist. His hands-on consultation extends from Aotearoa New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, many states across the USA, plus Micronesia and American Samoa, to Liberia (for United Nations worldwide literacy), and Indonesia, with consultation-from-a-distance to another 17 countries.

His faculty appointments include universities in New Zealand, London, Alaska, Pennsylvania, and Hawai‘i, and he has consulted with more than 100 agencies in different countries. He is also a current member of the Altogether Autism Professional Expert Group.

Dowrick is an expert in observational learning theory, and is internationally recognised as the ‘father of self-modelling’. He originated the concepts ‘feedforward’ and ‘creating futures’ in behavioural science.

His keynote presentation will explore how feedback on the past becomes useful only when converted to feedforward for the future. He will give video examples to illustrate feedforward as a visual self-image of future success, playing into the strengths of autism.


Josh and Maria Man

Josh and Maria Man

Josh and Maria Man are an Asian/Kiwi/Australian sibling duo who will offer their unique insight and reflections on what it has been like dealing with life’s transitions, growing up with each other and ultimately living apart in different countries.

They hope that their experiences will help professionals work with families more effectively, remind families to care for each other and encourage people with autism (and their siblings) to have their voices heard. 

Josh Man (known as the Bold One-Eyed Pirate in Australia) is a young man with autism peering into the complicated world of bustling humans and autism. He describes himself as a ‘finger-typer’ (as he communicates through his iPad) and a passionate advocate for people who communicate differently. 

Josh Man is a seasoned presenter and consultant in Australia, appearing at numerous disability conferences and universities including as keynote at the Queensland Disability Conference (Cairns, 2014); speaker at AGOSCI (Australian Group on Severe Communication Impairment) Conference (Adelaide, 2015); and at the Think-Prepare-Plan Conference (Brisbane/Townsville, 2016). 

Maria Man is Josh’s older sister who works as a speech and language therapist in Hamilton, New Zealand with children and young people with autism. 

She previously worked in Brisbane for five years at Disability Services Queensland with families with children with complex needs.

Bridging the cultural and language barriers between her Chinese parents and service providers, Maria Man has had a long personal experience of being a strong advocate and caregiver for Josh and her family.