2024 Presenters' Bios

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Alicja Nocon

Presenting: Sensory joy to the rescue: emotional containers and portable safe spaces

Alicja Nocon (she/they) is a professional late-diagnosed autistic coach and mentor. She works with autistic adults to help them become more authentic, aligned and alive in their work and personal lives, using a blend of evidence-based research and lived experience knowledge to support positive change.
Following Alicja’s peer-reviewed research on the role of character strengths in supporting the wellbeing of autistic adults (2022), Alicja’s interest has expanded to cover the role of senses, memory and sensory environments to enable and promote autistic wellbeing.

Barnabear

Presenting: The Joy of Engineering

Barnabear is a Software Engineer with 42 years development experience in computing, the sole inventor of four technology patents. Late diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2011, he taught computer engineering on a voluntary basis at Southlands Special School. When not making or breaking things, Barnabear is a regular guest lecturer at Southampton University and an advocate for autistic self awareness and autistic STEM careers. Barnabear is interested in air accident investigation, sometimes actively from home. He has a family of teddy bears, a wife and two sons, one of whom is also an engineer at the same company.

Corsin Gaudentz

Presenting: Dancing together – a toolkit

Corsin Gaudenz is late-diagnosed autistic. As a child he did artistic gymnastics, later he studied dance and choreography at the University of the Arts in Berlin. Since 2009 he is an independent art maker based in Zürich, Switzerland.

Courtney Ward

Presenting: Writing workshop

She is a neurodivergent person who is a published poet, performer and artist . She is a writing group facilitator, shadow writer for Writing East Midlands and have qualifications in mental health, special educational needs and also business and accounting. She currently works with children in an educational setting, has experience with giving organisations training for understanding ASC and has taken training for first aid, safeguarding through her workplace.

Dr David Thorpe

Presenting: How to love your work: Breaking down what makes great employment

Dr David Thorpe is a recent PhD graduate and business owner. He is autistic and was diagnosed as a child. From the typical challenges many autistic individuals feel of being in a world that isn't built for them, David looked to research and ultimately change this.
David founded the company Aspective Consulting in February 2024. This company is award winning and works to change companies policies and procedures to proactively accommodate all workers, not just those that fit the typical idea of a worker.
Through research, public speaking, and this business, David hopes to create better workplaces for all.

Elliot Wassell

Presenting: Experiences of Autistic Joy - findings from a participatory research project

Elliot is an autistic researcher currently studying for a Masters degree in Autism at University of Birmingham. His academic interests include autistic joy, connections with nature and environmental activism, autistic spirituality, participatory research methods, Posthumanist theory, rapidly becoming the whole world. He is spouse, parent and companion animal in a 100% neurodivergent household and a trustee of neurodivergent led charity Autistic Girls Network. Elliot is so into autistic joy that he actually gets autistic joy from studying autistic joy. Mean people make Elliot work as an accountant when he could be doing things like this.

Jess Garner

Presenting: Drama Workshop Exploring Autistic Joy

Jess is late identified Autistic & ADHD, Mum to two neurodivergent children & was an English & Drama teacher for 17 years. Jess is currently studying for a Masters in Autism & is about to move into her final year working on her research project exploring autistic children & young people's experiences of 'joy'. Jess is also founder of GROVE Neurodivergent Mentoring & Education - an online service for young people age 7-17 offering individual mentoring with neurodivergent adults, social & interest-based groups & bespoke 'Autistic Identity' education programmes.

Joanna Ławicka

Presenting: Applied Needs Analysis - neuroinclusive support for autistic people

Joanna Ławicka, PhD is a special pedagogue and a psychotherapist specialized in Transcultural Positive Psychotherapy. As a supervisor in Applied Needs Analysis and an academic lecturer, she has made significant contributions to the field of neurodiversity. She is the President of the Prodeste Foundation and for the last 20 years has been supporting neurodiverse families. She is the author of books, articles, and scientific research focused on neurodiversity and mental health. She leads the only Trauma Treatment and Mental Health Care Program for autistic individuals in Europe. Diagnosed on the autism spectrum 18 years ago, she has 3 neurodivergent children.

Kate Fox

Presenting: The Flux

Kate Fox is a stand-up poet who has featured on Radio 4 and Radio 3. She has a PhD in performance and has been exploring spoken word performance as a way to imagine new neurodivergent-affirming futures since featuring at the University of Kent’s Autism and the Arts festival in 2017. Her new poetry collection “Bigger on the Inside” uses Dr Who, Monotropism and the Neuroqueer imagination to try inspire people to think differently.

Max Marnau

Presenting: Music, word-sounds and the taste of languages: vocal stims and autistic joy

Max calls herself a “second-generation exile”. Her parents were refugees and quite consciously did not transmit their culture to her for fear of making her an outsider. That’s quite funny, given that she’s autistic! She never quite fitted in England, where they landed, and has spent her life finding joy in other languages, musics and cultures. It’s only over the last few years that she has discovered that folk clubs and sessions seem quite happy to hear her sing in languages they don’t understand! Max is also an "out loud and proud" autistic psychotherapist, activist, writer, and trainer.

Saffron

Presenting: Creating a Sensory Experience and Special Interest Toolkit

Saffron is a Youth Patron with Ambitious About Autism, part of Scope's Young Members Assembly, and runs the National Autistic Society's Arts and Crafts group. She has been involved with co-producing webinars and representing the Autistic community in different ways, and, while at university, set up a neurodiversity society. She is passionate about supporting people with their mental health, and ensuring people are aware of their rights.
Previously, Saffron worked as an accountant, but is now studying to be a mental health nurse. In her freetime, she creates illustrations about her experiences of autism, ARFID, and OCD.

Sara Rocha

Presenting: Exploring Artificial Intelligence tools for Autistic Joy

Sara Rocha is a Portuguese disabled advocate and the Vice-chair of the European Disability Forum Women's Committee. She is also Vice-president of the European Council of Autistic People and works as a public health data manager for the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge. Sara was selected for the second cohort of the Data Values Advocate of Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, which will focus on creating data advocacy skills in the disability/neurodivergent community.

The Neurodiverse Sport Team

Presenting: Finding joy through sport

We understand that encountering invisible barriers can make it difficult to engage in sports, especially for Autistic people. Our aim is to offer guidance and motivation. Our team comprises neurodivergent Olympians and top athletes who have triumphed over challenges in structured sports environments. We believe that everyone, regardless of their differences in behaviour and communication, should have the opportunity to reap the benefits of participation in sport and physical activity.
Through our organisation Neurodiverse Sport, we strive to transform mainstream sports into more inclusive spaces. We value input from our audience about their experiences in sports and physical activities, as well as any obstacles they have encountered as this feedback helps to shape our future initiatives.
Caragh McMurtry is a former Olympic rower, co-founder and Director of Neurodiverse Sport, and is Autistic-ADHD.
Olivia Rae is a former professional cricketer, representing Neurodiverse Sport, and is also Autistic-ADHD.