Autism Spectrum Australia

An interview with Jeanette Purkis before APAC17

  • Posted: 21/08/2017
  • Author: Benedicte Marie
  • Comments: Loading.. .

Jeanette Purkis is an author, public speaker and autism advocate who has a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and atypical schizophrenia. She is the author of three books on elements of autism and hosts an internet radio show. Jeanette has been speaking about autism since 2005. Some of the events Jeanette has presented at include TEDxCanberra 2013 and presenting alongside Professor Temple Grandin and artist Tim Sharp in Melbourne in 2015.  

Jeanette is one of the 22 plenary speakers at APAC17 ; she will discuss mental health and will suggest strategies to help enable mental health clinicians to provide more effective and inclusive services to autistic people with mental illness. Her presentation will also provide strategies that people on the autism spectrum and those who love and care for them can use to address mental health issues and get the most out of clinical services.   Jeanette took some time to answer Conference volunteer Alexandra Robinson, as part of interview series in the 'Getting ready for APAC17' Facebook Closed Group gathering delegates on the autism spectrum.


What are you looking forward to about APAC17?

I am really looking forward to catching up with some of my friends that I only see at conferences as well as meeting new people. I am also looking forward to hearing a variety of speakers. These kinds of events are a great way to build knowledge and understanding of things I might not have thought about before. 


Who are you looking forward to hearing from at the event?

There is quite a long list. Some of the keynotes are amazing - Dr Wenn Lawson, Dr Emma Goodall, Peter Vermeulen, Stephen Mark Shore to name a few. I think some of the other sessions will be really good too. I am looking forward to seeing Stacey Smith,  Monique Blakemore, Tony Langdon and Katie Koullas and other Autistic speakers. I tend to prefer the more ‘lived experience’ perspectives because they are so passionate and engaging and I relate to them better, although I enjoy some of the more academic presentations too.


What are the main points you want people to take away from your talk?

My presentation is on Autism and mental illness and is drawn from my own lived experience and my professional experience as an author and advocate. There are two sort of strands in my talk - one directed at people on the Autism spectrum and the other to clinicians ad professionals. For people on the spectrum I would like them to get some useful strategies for managing mental health challenges and some hope and confidence they can live well despite these issues. For non-autistic professionals  I think the message I am trying to get across is to help them understand how mental illness and autism can present differently and to listen and understand rather than make assumptions.  


What do you do in preparation for talks like this? Do you have a certain routine? 

I have already written my keynote talk. My workload its usually pretty large so I do things whenever I have some time. With presentations I look at the subject and who the talk is aimed at and draft a presentation which I think will benefit the audience. It is quite a creative process and I try to make the talk as visually appealing as possible. All my talks - even ones to small audiences - are treated with the same degree of attention. I practice all them at least five times before anyone else sees them. I want the audience for my talks to get the absolute best presentation I can give. I have this silly superstitious thing where I don't practice the talks the day before I give them! I;m not sure what I expect to happen if I do. Brains can be funny sometimes.


Are people able to ask questions during or at the end of your talk? 

People can definitely ask questions - that helps audience members clarify their understanding of the content and is also how I learn and refine my thinking. My preference is usually for the questions to be at the end of the talk but if someone has something they REALLY need to ask, I can answer it during the talk. 


Would you have merchandise for sale (books etc)? 

I have three published books, including a collaborative one on mental health, The Guide to Good Mental Health on the Autism Spectrum. The other two books are my autobiography Finding a Different Kind of Normal and my employment book for teens, The Wonderful World of Work: A Workbook for Asperteens. I am happy to sign these for people at the conference.  Here is a link to my website which has links to my three books as well as a load of other things, like my presentation for TEDx Canberra:  


> Ms. Jeanette Purkis - Mental Health and Autism: Strategies and Self-care, Fri 8 Sept (11:15am) 
Asia Pacific Autism Conference 2017 (APAC17) 

comments powered by Disqus
Please leave a comment
An interview with Jeanette Purkis before APAC17