The University of Northampton’s School of Education hosted an Autism study day on Friday 12 June, which concluded with three award presentations to celebrate outstanding contributions in the field.
The three special awards were created to recognise and reward people who are leading the way in innovative autism practice. In front of an audience of education professionals and family members of people with autism, the University’s Marie Howley presented Dr Julia Malkin MBE, Dr Glenys Jones and student Stephanie Nixon with awards to celebrate their achievements.
Dr Julia Malkin, who was born in Northampton, was presented with the Outstanding Achievements in Autism award. A driving instructor by trade, Julia – who was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome at the age of 40 – set up a specialist driving instructor academy for people with autism and additional needs. The course Julia created is still the only one of its kind in the UK, and perhaps the world. Julia has studied extensively, gaining four degrees in six years, and became a Doctor of Philosophy earlier this year.
Marie Howley commented: “Julia Malkin is an exceptionally talented individual who strives to improve the lives of people with autism. This award is a fitting tribute to her many achievements.”
Dr Glenys Jones, who delivered a keynote lecture at the event, received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Autism Education. A chartered Psychologist and an Honorary Lecturer with the Autism Centre for Autism Research (ACER) at the University of Birmingham, Dr Jones has been engaged in autism research for over 30 years. Her contribution to autism education has been outstanding and she has had an enormous impact upon the lives of people with autism and those who work with them.
The awards also celebrated the achievements of Stephanie Nixon, a student at the University, who received the Changemaker for Autism award. A final year criminology student, Stephanie created an outstanding Changemaker project, in association with the University’s residential life team and the Students’ Union. The project offers support to students who are on the autism spectrum. While at University, Stephanie has also set up an ‘autism spectrum circle’ to offer social support for students, and has completed many activities – including skydiving – for local charity Autism concern.
The School of Education has been organising Autism conferences since 2001. This year’s event, held at Park Campus, gave delegates the opportunity to take part in a series of workshops and network with others who have an interest in autism.