ASfAR Conference 6-7 December 2023

ASfAR held our 2023 conference at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, on the 6th and 7th December 2023

Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th December 2023

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand


FREE for ASfAR members (to join ASfAR or to renew your membership please go to )

Keynote & Invited Speakers:

Dr Chris Edwards – Investigating autism disclosure: Insights from social media

Professor Dawn Adams – How far can research inform the development of accessible, inclusive and effective mental health supports or services for autistic people?

Professor Laurie McLay – Sleep matters: Understanding the importance of sleep for autistic children and adolescents

Invited Panel 

Panel discussion: Autistic community member participation in autism research: Joys, challenges and learnings
Invited Panel members



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Keynote Speakers 2022

Professor Alison Lane

Keynote: Professor Alison Lane is an occupational therapist with over 25 years of experience in paediatric clinical practice and health service management. She has undertaken research and teaching in both Australia and the United States, with a strong focus on autism and sensory processing. Alison has led seminal papers describing the first sensory subtype models in autism and was the recipient of the prestigious

A. Jean Ayres award from the American Occupational Therapy Association for her contributions to the development of theory in autism and sensory processing. Alison joined the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre at La Trobe University in February, 2021 as Deputy Director. Prior to this, Alison was Head of Discipline and Clinic Director of the Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Dr Gail Alvares

ECR Keynote: Dr Gail Alvares is a Senior Research Fellow in the CliniKids Autism Research Team at the Telethon Kids Institute, and adjunct research fellow at the University of Western Australia, leading a program of research into autism and mental health. She completed her PhD in 2015 at the University of Sydney before moving to Perth to lead coordinate the Autism CRC’s Australian Autism Biobank, currently the largest detailed biological and clinical repository of information about autism in Australia. She has extensively published in the field (62 journal articles, 4 book chapters) and been awarded competitive grant funding (>$1.2 million as lead investigator, >$2.6 million as associate/co-investigator). In 2016, she was awarded a “Top 5 Under 40” scientist award by ABC’s Radio National and is passionate about communication of research outcomes to the community.

Dr Melanie Heyworth

Autistic Researcher Keynote: Dr Melanie Heyworth is an Autistic Autism researcher, mother to three exceptional Autistic children, and PhD student within the Macquarie School of Education. She is the CEO and founder of the Australian Autistic-run charity, Reframing Autism, which aims to disrupt the status quo for the Autistic community by providing Autistic-led research, therapies, and education. Mel is passionate about genuinely co-produced research, and regularly contributes to, and provides Autistic insights on, Autism research. She co-chairs the Australasian Autism Research Council (AARC). Mel’s current research focus is the mentalisation capacity of parents of Autistic children.

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ASfAR 2022 Conference

ASfAR warmly invites you to our 2022 conference which will be held in person on the 28th and 29th November 2022 hosted by Deakin University at the Deakin Waterfront Campus in Geelong, Victoria.


Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th November 2022


In person conference at Deakin Waterfront Campus, Geelong, Victoria



Registration for the ASfAR 2022 Conference is free for ASfAR members and is now open.

Before you register for the 2022 Conference

Everyone who registers for the conference must be a current ASfAR member – you can check if you are a current member by trying to log into the members page here

If you are not a current member, you will need to join or rejoin ASfAR before you can register for the conference. Please note that the fee for ASfAR membership remains consistent regardless of when in the membership cycle (1st Jan 2021-31st December 2022) you join.

To register for the Conference

Once you have confirmed you are a current member or once you join ASfAR at please register for the conference here:

Registrations must be received by 01:00am AEST on 1st November.

Keynote & Invited Speakers

  • Keynote Speaker Prof Alison Lane (OTARC). Making sense of sensory experiences in autism: the path forward.

  • Keynote Early Career Researcher Speaker Dr Gail Alvares (Telethon Kids Institute): The prevention of mental health difficulties in childhood: A pipedream or a paradigm shift for mental healthcare?
  • Keynote Autistic Researcher Speaker Dr Melanie Heyworth (Macquarie University, School of Education). Reaching the right people: Community perceptions of Autism research.

To find out more about our keynote speakers, please see


Discounted Conference Rates – Accommodation

Please login to our Members’ Only area to find discounted conference rates for a number of hotels.

Autistic Community Breakfast

  • An Autistic Community Breakfast Meeting will be held on Day 2 of the Conference (Tuesday 29th Nov).
  • Breakfast will be ready and available for pick up from 7.30am, the breakfast meeting will start at 8am until 9am in D2.330 (the Conference Autistic Community Room).

COVID-related rules and regulations

As the conference is being held in Victoria, and at Deakin University, ASfAR is obliged to comply with the laws set by Victoria and the rules set by Deakin.  Hence, ASfAR will comply with all rules stated here

Please check this link for updated information.

Language choice when preparing your presentations for the ASfAR 2022 Conference

When preparing your conference presentations, please ensure your choice of language is respectful and in line with the autistic community’s preferences and recommendations.

Please see and for guidance.

Submission of Abstracts

The abstract submission for the 2022 ASfAR conference is now closed.




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