Previous Q & As

You can view a transcript of our previous events by visiting the pages below and clicking 'Replay' in the Cover It Live window.

Ruled Out logoSchool exclusions and how to prevent them - 26 March 2014

Research behind our Ruled Out campaign highlighted that 20% of children with autism have been excluded from school in the past 12 months. Sarah Hannett, a Barrister at Matrix Chambers specialising in school exclusions, took part in an online Q&A with us on to answer questions about exclusion and rights and responsibilities.

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Barbara BissonetteGetting a job and workplace survival for people on the spectrum - 4 March 2014

Barbara Bissonnette specialises in career development coaching and workplace advocacy for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome and Nonverbal Learning Disorder. She is the author of the award-winning Complete Guide to Getting a Job for People with Asperger’s Syndrome and the Asperger’s Syndrome Workplace Survival Guide: A Neurotypical’s Secrets for Success. She answered questions about getting a job and workplace survival for people on the spectrum.

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Anna KennedyAnna Kennedy OBE - 15 January 2014

Anna Kennedy OBE is the mother of two boys, Patrick and Angelo, who both have autism. In 1997, Anna co-founded the registered charity Hillingdon Care and Support (HACS). Two years later, having been turned away by no fewer than 26 special needs schools when searching for appropriate educational facilities for her sons, she remortgaged her home and transformed a derelict council building in Middlesex, West London into Hillingdon Manor School. Anna is regularly invited to speak at conferences on the subject of autism and has also taken part in numerous TV talk shows and news programmes. In 2009 she won ‘Woman of the Year’ an award run in conjunction with The Observer newspaper and Smooth Radio and has recently been named Tesco Mum of the Year 2013 and now officially awarded an OBE.

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Phoebe Caldwell

Phoebe Caldwell - 11 December 2013

Phoebe Caldwell, expert practitioner in Intensive Interaction, works mainly with children and adults on the autistic spectrum, many of them with behavioural distress. She combines using a person’s body language to communicate with paying attention to those aspects of an individual’s environment which are triggering sensory distress. In 2010, she was awarded the Times-Sternberg Prize for work on autism and contribution to the community - and in July 2011,  Bristol University awarded her an Honorary Doctorate of Science for on communication with people with autism. Her latest book, ‘The Anger Box’, is due out in late January, published by Pavilion Publishers. It is about sensory difficulties, confusion and pain in autism. Phoebe answered questions about her perspectives on autism and her approach.

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Mother and sonFran Robertson, director of Autism: Challenging Behaviour - 6 November 2013

On Tuesday 5 November 9-10pm, the documentary Autism: Challenging Behaviour aired on BBC Four. The documentary explores the history of ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) and how it has been used to teach children and young people with autism. As an intervention, ABA has passionate supporters and vocal critics and the documentary explores the reasons why and interviews people on both sides of the debate. We hosted an online Q&A with the director, Fran Robertson, on Wednesday 6 November, the day after Autism: Challenging Behaviour aired. She answered questions about the documentary.

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Adults with autismAdult Autism Strategy with Michael Swaffield and Gareth James - 2 October 2013

The first ever strategy for adults with autism in England, Fulfilling and Rewarding Lives, was published in March 2010. The strategy sets out a long-term vision and ambition to improve health outcomes for adults with autism. The strategy is not just about putting in place statutory autism services but also enabling equal access for people with autism to support and opportunities through reasonable adjustments to everyday services, training and awareness raising. In 2013, the Government will be reviewing the implementation of the strategy. Michael Swaffield, Adult Autism lead at the Department of Health, and Gareth James, lead on autism and children's policy, answered questions on the Adult Autism Strategy in an online Q&A with us on 2 October 2013.

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Maggie AtkinsonDr Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner - 19 September 2013

Dr Maggie Atkinson, England's Children’s Commissioner, is responsible for promoting the views and best interests of children in England to those how have the power to make decisions about their lives. In 2012 she published a report highlighting the fact that thousands of children every year are illegally excluded from school. Children with autism are particularly at risk of exclusion and the latest data showed that children with a statement of special educational needs are 8 times more likely to be excluded than their peers. That data does not include those exclusions that happen ‘unofficially’ and illegally. In this Q&A, Dr Maggie Atkinson answered your questions about her role and exclusions.

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Melissa MorgenlanderAutism and technology: iPads, apps and beyond - 12 September 2013

The last few years have seen an explosion of mobile and tablet apps focussed on people on the autism spectrum. New technologies like the iPad have been hailed for their ability to aid learning and communication while recent headlines have warned of autism's link to computer game addiction. So, how can new technologies help people with autism and what is the best way to get the most out of them? In this Q&A Dr. Melissa Morgenlander, researcher and author of autism technology blog The iQ Journals, answered your questions on the subject.

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Kevin HealeyAutism and bullying with Kevin Healey - 14 August 2013

"For far too long now, adults on the spectrum have been targeted by bullies," says Kevin Healey. "I am a victim of bullying, from a child to a teenager, to now a grown adult at 38. We need to change the law on bullying internationally, whether it’s bullying in the workplace, university or online." In our online Q&A on autism and bullying, Kevin answered questions about his own experiences and his new global anti-bullying campaign which has attracted support from celebrities such as Ricky Gervais, Katie Price, and Keith Duffy.

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David MitchellDavid Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas and translator of The Reason I Jump - 2 July 2013

The Reason I Jump is a book by Naoki Higishida, a Japanese boy with autism, which he wrote when he was 13 years old. David Mitchell and his wife translated Naoki's book after finding it gave them an invaluable insight into their son’s autism. Their hope is that it might help others deal with the practicalities of autism, as well as illuminate a little understood condition. In our Q&A, David answered questions about The Reason I Jump and his own experiences with autism.

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Kristine BarnettKristine Barnett, author of The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nuturing Genius - 20 June 2013

Kristine Barnett, author of The Spark, took part in a live online Q & A with us on Thursday 20 June 2013. The Spark follows Kristine's experiences raising her son Jacob, who is a child prodigy with autism, recently tipped to be a future Nobel prize winner. She answered questions about raising Jacob, her thoughts about autism and her book. 

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Damian MiltonDSM-5: What does it mean for the autism community? - 28 May 2013

'What is autism?' is a question that has generated debate and disagreement for years. On May 18 2013 the conversation was reignited with the publication of DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health Disorders. This was one of the most anticipated events in the mental health field and its overhaul of the official definition of autism is likely to have far reaching implications for people with autism, their families and the professionals that support them. We brought together three autism academics to take your questions on the DSM-5 and debate its impact.

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Wendy LawsonDr Wendy Lawson, Psychologist and Author - 14 March 2013

Dr Wendy Lawson, psychologist, counsellor, lecturer and author on the autism spectrum, took part in a live online Q & A with us on Thursday 14 March 2013. She answered your questions about her life and perspectives on autism.

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Speaker John Bercow MPSpeaker John Bercow MP - 9 January 2013

Rt Hon John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons and Parent Patron of Ambitious about Autism, joined us for a live online Q & A on 9 January 2013. He answered your questions on life as a parent of a son with autism, special educational needs policy, and his role as a parent patron.

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Graham Stuart MPDraft Children and Families Bill: What Needs to Change? with Graham Stuart MP - 20 December 2012

The Government plans to change the way children and young people with special educational needs access services and support. The Education Select Committee published a report on 19 December 2012 making a number of recommendations to Government about how they might improve the draft legislation published in Autumn. Graham Stuart MP, Chair of the Committee, joined us for an online Q & A on 20 December 2012 and asnwered questions about what the Committee found and its recommendations.

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Robyn StewardGirls on the spectrum with Robyn Steward and Dr Will Mandy - 12 December 2012

According to the statistics, autism affects more men than women, but is this down to a biological difference or is there an issue with diagnosis? In this online Q & A, Robyn Steward and Dr William Mandy answered questions about women and girls on the autism spectrum.

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Sheila BartonCharlotte Moore and Sheila Barton, Authors - 7 November 2012

Charlotte Moore, author of George and Sam, and Sheila Barton, author of Living with Jonathan, took part in a joint live online Q & A on 7 November 2012. Charlotte Moore is a full-time writer and has published several novels. She lives in Sussex with her three children, George, Sam and Jake. Sheila Barton has worked as a teacher and lecturer as well as a senior manager in various national charities. She is an experienced public speaker. Sheila’s book, Living with Jonathan, was published in September 2012. They answered questions about their lives as mums to children with autism and their books.

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Sophie WalkerSophie Walker, Author of Grace Under Pressure - 24 October 2012

Sophie Walker, author of Grace Under Pressure, took part in a an online Q & A on 24 October 2012. In her book, Sophie shares the daily highs and lows of raising a child with Asperger's syndrome and the challenge of becoming a long-distance runner. She answered questions about life as a mum to a girl with Asperger's syndrome and her book.

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Daniel TammetDaniel Tammet, Bestselling Author and Autistic Savant - 20 September 2012

Daniel Tammet, bestselling author and autistic savant, took part in a live online Q & A on 20 September 2012. He answered your questions about his life as an autistic savant and his books. Daniel is hailed the world over for his extraordinary mind and unique intelligence shaped by high-functioning autistic savant syndrome.

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Seth MnookinSeth Mnookin, Author of The Panic Virus - 15 August 2012

Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus, took part in a live online Q & A with Talk about Autism on 15 August 2012. He answered your questions about his book The Panic Virus, the history of the autism and MMR vaccine debate, and Andrew Wakefield.

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Professor Patricia HowlinProfessor Patricia Howlin, Professor of Clinical Child Psychology - 18 July 2012

Patricia Howlin, Professor of Clinical Child Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry in London, took part in a live online Q & A with Talk about Autism on Wednesday 18 July. She answered questions about her work, outcomes for adults on the spectrum, and intervention programmes for autism.

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Arthur and Carly FleischmannArthur Fleischmann, Autism Advocate and Father of Carly Fleischmann - 7 June 2012

Arthur Fleischmann, father of Carly Fleischmann, took part in a live online Q & A with on 7 June 2012. He answered questions about autism advocacy, life living with Carly, and details of their upcoming book, Carly's Voice.

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Dr Alexa PosnyDr. Alexa Posny,  Assistant Secretary for SEN in US Department of Education - 15 May 2012

Dr Alexa Posny took part in a live online Q & A on 15 May 2012. Dr Posny is the Assistant Secretary for Special Education in the United States Department of Education. She answered questions about her work and issues related to special educational needs.

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Todd DreznerTodd Drezner, Director of Loving Lampposts - 26 April

As part of Ambitious about Autism's Autism Film Club, a live online Q & A took place with the director of Loving Lampposts, Todd Drezner, on 26 April 2012. Todd Drezner received his MFA in Film from Columbia University and is the editor of several award-winning documentaries that have been shown around the world.

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Adam LarsenAdam Larsen, Director of Neurotypical - 12 April 2012

As part of Ambitious about Autism's Autism Film Club, a live online Q & A took place with the director of Neurotypical, Adam Larsen, on 12 April 2012. He answered questions how he made Neurotypical, why he made it, and his thoughts about autism and the autism community.

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Saskia andd her brotherSaskia Baron, Director of The Autism Puzzle - 5 April 2012

As part of Ambitious about Autism's Autism Film Club, a live online Q & A took place with the director of The Autism Puzzle, Saskia Baron, on 5 April 2012. She answered questions about why she made the film, her personal connection to autism, and the portrayal of autism in the media.

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Michelle DawsonMichelle Dawson, Autistic Researcher - 1 March 2012

Michelle Dawson joined us for a live online Q & A on 1 March 2012. Michelle Dawson is an autistic researcher affiliated since 2004 with Laurent Mottron’s lab at the University of Montreal. She answered questions on autism, her research and autism research in general.

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Russell Stronach

Russell Stronach, co-Chair of the Autistic Rights Movement - 24 February 2012

Russell Stronach, co-Chair of the Autistic Rights Movement (ARM UK), joined us for a live online Q & A on Friday 24 February 2012. The ARM UK is the only national user-led autism organisation in the UK and is part of a wider emergent autistic rights movement. He answered questions about autism and autism rights.

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Kay BenbowKay Benbow, Controller of CBeebies - 13 January 2012

Kay Benbow, Controller of CBeebies, joined us for a live online Q & A on 13 January 2012. Kay was appointed Controller of CBeebies in May 2010 and is responsible for commissioning all content for the under 6's across all platform. She answered questions about CBeebies, inclusive children's programming and her own experiences.

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Lorraine Petersen OBE

Lorraine Petersen OBE, Chief Executive Officer of nasen - 7 December 2011

Lorraine Petersen OBE, Chief Executive Officer of nasen joined us for a live online Q & A on 7 December 2011. She answered your questions about special educational needs provision following the Government's Green Paper, issues around personal budgets, the introduction of Education, Health and Care Plans, and Local Authorities and their statutory duty.

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Robert BucklandRobert Buckland MP, Chair of the All Parliamentary Group on Autism - 1 December 2011

Robert Buckland MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Autism, joined us for a live online Q & A on Thursday 1 December 2011. He answered questions about the proposed Autism Quality Standard and Ambitious about Autism's Finished at School campaign.

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Virginia BovellVirginia Bovell, Vice President of Ambitious about Autism - 24 November 2011

Virginia Bovell, Vice President of Ambitious about Autism, joined us for a live online Q & A on 24 November 2011. She answered questions about the Finished at School campaign, why she believes post-16 provision for young people with autism is so important and her own experiences as a mother of a child with autism.

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ProfessorTony CharmanProfessor Tony Charman, Chair in Autism Education at CRAE - 6 October 2011

Professor Tony Charman, Chair in Autism Education at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE), joined Talk about Autism for a live online Q & A on Thursday 6 October. He answered questions about the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance.

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Jean GrossJean Gross, Communications Champion - 13 September 2011

Jean Gross, the Government’s Communication Champion, joined us on 13 September 2011 for a live online Q&A event on 'Communication in the classroom'. Jean answered questions about how children with autism can be best supported to communicate in the classroom, and what is changing in government policy in this area.

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Sarah EyreSarah Eyre, Speech and Language Therapist - 5 July 2011

Talk about Autism was delighted host a live Q & A about speech and language therapy for children and young people with autism on 5 July 2011. The Q & A was with Sarah Eyre, who has been a Speech and Language Therapist for 9 years with children and adults with autism and severe learning disabilities within social services, health and education.

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Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, Autism Advocate - 24 June 2011

Talk about Autism was delighted to welcome Dr. Temple Grandin for a live online Q & A on Friday 24 June. Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is the most accomplished and well-known adult with autism in the world. She answered questions about her life, the autistic mind, and her thoughts about autism

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Steve BroachSteve Broach, Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers - 15 June 2011

Steve Broach joined Talk about Autism for a live online Q & A on Wednesday 15 June. Steve is a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers specialising in public law and human rights. He answered questions about special educational needs, legal aid, and the SEN Green Paper.

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Ari Ne'emanAri Ne'eman, Founding President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network - 1 June 2011

We were delighted to welcome Ari Ne'eman, Founding President of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, for a live online Q & A on 1 June which was hosted at the Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE). Ari had given the keynote speech at the CRAE 2nd Annual Lecture on 31 May 2011.

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Tessa Munt MPTessa Munt MP - 12 May 2011

Tessa Munt MP joined us for a live Q & A on Thursday 12th May. Tessa is also a school governor and vice chair of a local Parent Teacher Association so has a wealth of experience in education. This was a great chance to ask questions about any of the changes being made to education that will affect children with autism.

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Sally Bercow Sally Bercow, Parent Patron of Ambitious about Autism - 9 May 2011

Sally Bercow joined us on Monday the 9th May 2011 for a live online Q & A. Sally and her husband, John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, are parent patrons of Ambitious about Autism. Sally answered questions about her expereinces of being a mother of a child with autism, politics, and her thoughts about autism. 

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Charlotte MooreCharlotte Moore, Author of George and Sam - 30 September 2010

Charlotte Moore, author of George and Sam, joined us for a live online Q & A on 30 September 2010. Charlotte is a full-time writer and has published several novels, as well as a children's biography of Florence Nightingale. She answered questions on her book and her life with her sons who have autism.

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