A Port Stephens occupational therapist who works with children on the spectrum is preparing to host Australia's largest free and online autism event during Autism Awareness Week (April 1-5).
Rhiannon Crispe, from Taylors Beach, has worked with families living with autism for more than a decade in Victoria, remote Northern Territory and for the past three years here in Port Stephens.
She also hosts a free fortnightly podcast and facilitates workshops "where a big portion of the time is taking up educating families on reducing stresses in the child's daily life".
"I am excited to announce that I am hosting The Autism Summit, where I will bringing together 20 trailblazers in the industry, extraordinary parents and people on the spectrum," the 33-year-old mother of two girls said.
"With the high prevalence of autism in the wider community, we would love the opportunity to share this event with those families from the Port Stephens area seeking information and knowledge."
The summit will kick off on April 1 - the first day of Autism Week - and include incredible speakers such as Maggie Dent, Prof Tony Attwood and Jeanette Purkis.
Ms Crispe, who is also a personal trainer and GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) practitioner, said she developed a deep curiosity about using a ‘whole child’ approach when working with children on the spectrum.
"I have worked with children with autism at special education schools, mainstream schools, childcare centres and my own private therapy practice," she said.
"I have also had the privilege to work alongside some absolutely inspirational parents who have unintentionally captured my heart.
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"In the early stages of diagnosis and even further along the autism journey, it is a common thread that parents ask me, “what can I do to help my child at home?” And so this question lead me on a journey.
"As a mother myself, I felt completely connected and compelled to empowering parents to make a difference in their child’s life and give them the tools to inspire growth and healthy habits at home. And so, Homebase Hope was born.
"The deeper I delved into the world of autism, through research and through hands on experience, the more I realised I had to unlearn what I had learnt. I was lead to believe that autism is a lifelong, hardwired and fixed condition. But what I discovered was the opposite.
"Every child, has the potential to learn, grow and blossom, regardless of the diagnostic box they have been placed inside. A child’s diagnosis does not define them and it should not place limits on what we believe is possible for them to achieve. There is always hope."
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Ms Crispe said that she has learned to look at autism from all different angles and believe we need to be more tolerant of different perspectives. "My focus is on empowering you to help your child – because it’s your hands-on, proactive approach that is the guiding force which drives progress and moves your child forward.
“I found that all too often parents had difficulty implementing strategies because they didn’t have the tolerance, lacked the energy or were too stressed to handle the daily situations.
“No one has all of the answers to the complex neurodevelopmental conditions we see today. I encourage you to open your mind, let go of assumptions, question everything, let the diagnosis be an invitation to assess the family diet and lifestyle.”
Rhiannon Crispe can be contacted through homebasehope.com.au.