Autism in Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic (BAME) Community Symposium 2018



April 2nd is internationally recognised as Autism Awareness Day. It encourages member states of the United Nations to take steps in raising awareness about the life-long neurological disorder. Normally, April 1st kicks off a month of events and activities to raise awareness about Autism in different communities across the world.

This year, in marking Autism Awareness Month, we are taking the bold step to organise a symposium to raise awareness, highlight challenges and identify ways of addressing the challenges affecting people and families affected by Autism in the Black, Asia and Minority Ethnic Community in the United Kingdom.

The Autism in Black, Asian And Minority Ethnic (BAME) Community symposium 2018 organised by Autism Voice United Kingdom in partnership with the Participatory Autism Research Collectives (PARC) and the London Southbank University Critical Autism/Disabilities Research Group will be an effective means of raising awareness about autism and inclusion of people with special needs within the BAME community.

The symposium offers a timely opportunity for key stakeholders in the services of autism to renew commitment for raising awareness about autism, assess progress, identify gaps, address new and emerging autism challenges in the BAME community.

The two themes that will provide a focus of the symposium are: Diverse approach to Autism: culture, religion and ethnicity and Paving the future for Autism in BAME.

The symposium will also present an excellent opportunity for members of the business, academic, local, special needs community to share knowledge, responsibilities and take vital action.

The event shall comprise of short oral presentations from academics, parents and professionals working within the Autism sector in the UK.

The symposium will be held on Tuesday 24th April 2018 at the LSBU campus, 103 Borough Road, London, SE1 0AA.

The time for the symposium is 2pm till 7pm BST.



Mariama Korrca Kandeh is Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Autism Voice United Kingdom

Mariama’s speech


Chair of Event- Dr. Damian Milton, Autism Consultant, Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the University of Kent and Chair PARC

Dr Damian Milton works for the National Autistic Society as Autism Knowledge and Expertise Consultant. He is a Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities at the Tizard Centre, University of Kent. Damian is also a Project Leader of the National Autistic Taskforce.
Damian also chair the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC). He holds a number of academic qualifications in a range of subjects: Sociology, Philosophy, Psychology, Education, and have years of experience as a lecturer in both Further Education and Higher Education.

His interest in autism started when his son was diagnosed in 2005 as Autistic at the age of two.  Damian was also diagnosed with Asperger’s in 2009 at the age of thirty-six.

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire

Dr Chris Papadopoulos is a principal lecturer in public health at the University of Bedfordshire. As part of this role, he is engaged in a range of research projects some of which focus on autism, stigma, mental health and culture. One such study, funded by the charity Autistica, involves the design of the first ever stigma protection intervention for family carers of autistic individuals.

He has published a range of research studies in these and other areas including articles on the conceptual and empirical links between stigma, culture and ethnicity, and a recent systematic review on the relationship between autism stigma and mental health among family carers (which highlighted the importance of culture). He is also the supervisor of several autism related PhD studies including one which is examining public attitudes towards autism within Nigeria (the first study to do this).

Chris is also the father of an autistic child, a person from an ethnic minority group (Greek Cypriot), and the founder of the London Autism Group Charity and the London Autism Group, the latter of which consists of over 1000 members. His full bio can be viewed at  and

Chris’s talk will centre directly on the symposium’s two key themes i.e. how and why culture and ethnicity are important in understanding autism stigma, and what we can learn from this to help pave a brighter future for autistic people and their families living in BAME communities. He will begin by introducing the concept of stigma and the phenomenon of ‘autism stigma’, describing some examples from his own research on the topic, and some of the key negative consequences of autism stigma based on the research evidence. He will then discuss how and why the roles that ethnicity and culture play in understanding and fighting stigma are important. This will include examining and discussing relevant research evidence about why stigma may vary across cultures and communities, and which types of settings may be viewed as key targets of anti-stigma initiatives. The latter will link in with a consideration of how we can progress in understanding and tackling autism stigma across and within communities, including a set of reasonable steps forward we can make in addressing autism stigma. The overall purpose of his talk will be to cast a light on the prominence and harmful impact of autism stigma, and how and why culture and ethnicity might be important in helping us to address this crucial issue.
Autism Voice presentation – Chris Papadopoulos

Guest Speaker – Professor Nicola Martin, Head of Research and Higher Degrees, London South Bank University Division of Education.

Dr Nicola Martin has worked with disabled people in education for over 35 years and is currently Professor of Inclusive Education and Social Justice leading on research and higher degrees in education at LSBU.  Her research interests and approach to teaching are driven by a commitment to principles of equality of opportunity, emancipatory research and ensuring that narratives of marginalised people inform her practice. She has developed a range of social justice focussed higher degrees including an EdD and MA programmes in education which concentrate on autism, disability and leadership. The courses are informed by the lived experiences of disabled and marginalised people.  Nicola’s academic area is Critical Disability Studies, with a particular interest in the requirements of students with autism.  She is an Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge, working on autism research with Professor Simon Baron-Cohen. Her autism research is highly influential internationally. She is a National Teaching Fellow and a Fellow at Sheffield Hallam and of the Royal Society of Arts. Nicola is currently working on research (funded by Research Autism) which seeks to understand what young people on the autism spectrum think constitutes effective mentoring. She recently co-edited two collections for Pavilion, with Dr Damian Milton, on autism and intellectual impairment. The publications are aimed at health, social care and education practitioners. Nicola is a member of NADP Board and Editor of The Journal of Inclusive Practice in Further and Higher Education.

Mentoring accredited cpdppautism voice


Guest Speaker – Karima Esmail, Director of Jelly James Publishing

Karima Esmail, is the director of Jelly James Publishing that specialises in addressing the needs of children and adults with developmental dyscalculia. She is a Chartered Engineer who naturally enjoys addressing the needs of diverse learners.  Karima has developed a NumberSenseMMR® framework to detect and differentiate developmental dyscalculia from maths developmental delays. This framework has been validated by the University of Oxford and adopted by Dynamo Maths as well as being translated into many languages to support pupils who are not making age appropriate progress. Dynamo Maths is a multiple award-winning specialist resource that takes both a developmental and individualised difference approach.

Karima is a respected author of literacy and numeracy resources and her passion lies in raising awareness of dyscalculia and researching how neurodevelopmental disorders affect children’s number sense development. She previously taught as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Hertfordshire and is currently pursuing research at University College London. Karima says, “My work has to be meaningful and absolutely needs to make a difference.”

Topic: Understanding, identifying and supporting developmental dyscalculia
Paving the future for Autism

A developmental approach to maths difficulties
Difficulties in processing arithmetic are often seen in children and adults with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC). Research indicates that the maths difficulties they present are on a spectrum where each individual demonstrates a variation in the type of severity of symptoms. Complex maths difficulties need not be a lifelong condition if we detect this early in their development.
It is also interesting to note that the maths behavioural presentations that we see with ASC are also shared with other developmental conditions.
In this presentation, I will introduce an arithmetic difficulty referred to as developmental dyscalculia that affects almost 6% of the population. There is an acutely low level of awareness of this condition and it is crucial that we identify these difficulties as early as we can. I will share with you my personal journey into making sense of this complex maths difficulty and the evolvement of a NumberSenseMMR® developmental framework This framework has supported over 80,000 assessments, enabling individuals to use their individual Profiles and receive targeted support for intervention. Our work with the University of Oxford and schools indicate that to improve the outlook for this condition, we need to approach this from a developmental perspective.
Trained teachers play an important part in the process of conducting assessments, observing the child processing information and in the use of dynamic interactive approaches to harness development. Success in children with developmental dyscalculia is underpinned by shifting the focus from symptoms to a developmental approach.

BAME Handout 24April 2018

Guest Speaker – Lorna Bryan, Mother, Team worker and Volunteer         

Lorna Bryan is a mother of three boys. Her 34-year-old son is Autism diagnosed and that has had a powerful impact on her family. She describes her son as ‘resilient, intelligent, fun to be with and loves to dance.’  He is an inspiration to his family and has changed the course of Lorna’s life.

Teaching was Lorna’s first job. She also gained qualifications as a nurse and lawyer to be better able to assist people affected by autism.

Her interest in Music, Art, Jewellery Making, Raw Food Diet and training in various complementary therapies such as Shiatsu Massage, Swedish Massage, Aromatherapy, Herbs, Reflexology, Meditation and Gardening were developed out of her desire to help people with Autism have choice, transferable skills, gain employment, enjoy their leisure time and lead fulfilling lives.

She has done voluntary work with organisations including the National Autistic Society, MIND, Parents for Inclusion, The Challenging Behaviour Foundation and South London and Maudsley NHS – befriending those affected by mental health issues and serving that community through participation in the Health and Wellbeing Board.

Lorna is also a published author and an avid reader who enjoys public speaking.  She is currently working on a book titled “A Chronology of Care,” which will make recommendations based on her family’s experience with Autism.

‘I have been called an Omniest because of my respect for God, by whatever name people identify God.  I value peace, love, joy and forgiveness.’

Lorna Bryan’s presentation

Venessa Bobb: Founder/Director A2ndVoice, Branch Officer/Chair NAS Lambeth

Venessa Bobb is the founder/director of A2ndvoice. A2ndVoice runs workshops with guest speakers that specialise in Autistic Community, previous workshops that we have covered are what is Autism & Asperger’s; Challenging Behaviour, Inappropriate Sexualised Behaviour, Obsession, Anxiety, Potty Training and Sleeping Issues, Sensory Impairments, Working Towards Adulthood, Puberty and Relationships, Autism in the BAME Community, Social Safety and Street Awareness, Mental Health and Autism, Ageing and Autism. It is extremely important to look at support for families within the church community.

In 2012, she wrote to the Kenneth Clarke MP with her concerns about Autism in the Prison Service and how many were from the Black Community. She was referred to the Department of Health who confirmed that more screening and support was needed, but she could still she that autism and aspergers was not being taken seriously.  More needs to be done when dealing with the PRU, NEET, Police, and the Legal System when concerning Autism and Aspergers.

She has worked closely with a range of local businesses offering autism friendly activities for families, the success of hosting Family Stay and Play Fun Sessions, Autism Fayre and Christmas Parties at Tooting Leisure Centre, Clapham Leisure Centre and Stockwell Children Centre,  it has become a place for families and autistic children and their siblings to feel safe and with staff that are learning to understand how much autism is misunderstood.

Hosting also a range of church events around adult overcomers to childhood sexual abuse and taboos that need to be tackled with Christian counsellors and support from other church saints as many believers do not want to attend their church, due to feeling that they would be judged.

She is currently working on a project with the Cassandra Learning Centre based in Norbury, running the SEND projects offering Keeping Safe for Teens and Young People with Autism/Special Needs, Dad’s & Male Carers Groups and a range of Day to Day Lifestyle Workshops.

Venessa is current Branch Officer and Chair for the NAS Lambeth Branch, Member of the National Forum and a Member of the APPGA Advisory Group.


Scroll to Top
Skip to content