Autism conference 11-01-2020 in Aarhus, Denmark

Text: Jimmi Hansen

Image above: Speaker and writer Pernille Aalund (left) and association board member Xenia Ørum at the Aarhus conference.

Autisme og Aspergerforeningen for Voksne, the Danish association for autistic people aged 18+, arranged a conference on Saturday Jan 11th 2020, this time in Aarhus, on the east coast of Jutland. Our previous, similar conference was held in Copenhagen in November 2017.

We have a cooperation agreement with Landsforeningen Autisme, the larger Danish association for family, professionals and autistic people. Because of this agreement, they have helped us arrange two additional conferences, in November 2018 and November 2019, in Copenhagen.

This year’s conference was held at Scandic Hotel in Aarhus. There was a small fee for the participants, but we also used money from a donation we received a couple of years ago from a business owner. Sadly, our benefactor’s son had committed suicide. Therefore the focus of the conference was on helping autistic people who are in vulnerable situations.

We had two plenary talks of 1½ hours. The first speakers were Pernille Aalund and her daughter Anine-Petrea Lindvig. They both have Asperger diagnoses and they are quite famous in Denmark. Pernille Aalund has been a TV talkshow host and magazine director of Aller Media. Today she is a writer and a speaker. Her daughter Anine is an upcoming actor, still finding her way in life. They talked about their life experiences, about times of crisis but also the good things in their lives. The next plenary talk was by Ea Carøe, a psychologist from the company Molis. She talked about coping with stress, self-harm, and the senses.

Furthermore, we had two sessions with three parallel one-hour workshops. The independent advocacy organisation DUKH (Den Uvildige Konsulentordning på Handicapområdet) presented about legislation and rights regarding different subjects relevant for autistic adults. Felix Munch, an autistic father, had been invited to speak about autistic parents, and Dorthe Hölck, a professional, to speak about education and work. We had Louise Egelund Jensen, an autistic writer, speaking about her life experiences and coping with stress. Finally, we had a workshop where the subject was suicidal thoughts.

Four firms had been invited to display products relevant for autistic people. Another firm could not participate but sent us a discount code for their online shop. The foundation Livslinien was also present. Livslinien provides a helpline for people with suicidal thoughts to call and talk about their problems.

Overall, participants were very satisfied with the conference. As our chairman David Facius mentioned in his welcome speech, we are pleased that we were able to arrange another conference, and that this time we could make this happen outside Copenhagen.