Assistant Principal to speak at National Education Summit on Autism Spectrum Disorder


​©Brisbane Catholic Education, St Peter Claver College, Riverview (2024).

Adrian Wilkinson's expertise in working with neuro-divergent learners, will place him in the spotlight, addressing thousands at the National Education Summit on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Melbourne (14 to 15 June). 

The St Peter Claver College Assistant Principal unexpectantly realised he had ASD at 35-years-old, after seeking a diagnosis for his son, who was three at the time.  
Adrian Wilkinson's passion for supporting neuro-divergent learners, particularly those with ASD, has led him to become an expert in navigating the unique challenges and opportunities faced by students with ASD and their carers. 
“I feel that as a person with autism, and a father of a child with autism, I am uniquely positioned to provide invaluable insights into how educators can support students with ASD in the classroom,” he said. 
“Most educators are only familiar with the top 10 indicators of ASD. 
“This summit is an opportunity for me to share with educators the other 50 plus behaviours educators should be aware of. 
“While many educators focus primarily on the academic and behavioural challenges, it's crucial to recognise and understand the emotional and social aspects of ASD. 
“For example, when we think of students with ASD, we often think of them as having social communication challenges, which means their innate sense of fairness, empathy, and compassion is a trait that is frequently overlooked. 
“By acknowledging and addressing these less visible aspects of ASD, we can create more supportive and inclusive learning environments that cater to the holistic needs of all students."  
Adrian adds his journey with autism has taught him the beauty of embracing his and others’ uniqueness. 
“I always had special interests, I love to quote TV shows and films,” he said. 
“This led me to becoming a film and television teacher. 
“For me autism is not a barrier, but a bridge to connecting with my students, particularly those with ASD.   
“I find my students with ASD tend to seek my support, they know I understand and deeply resonate with them as I am quite open about my ASD. 
“I have an ability to see the world through a different lens and my students find solace knowing they have a teacher who understands and celebrates their uniqueness.” 
Brisbane Catholic Education (BCE) Senior Manager Diversity and Student Wellbeing Dionne Lloyd said BCE schools currently support around 3000 students on the autism spectrum, and like all students, they each have their own unique interests, talents, and strengths.  
“Our school communities are diverse, inclusive, vibrant places underpinned by positive relationships,” she said. 
“BCE is currently partnering with 'Positive Partnerships - Working Together to Support Students on the autism spectrum’, funded by the Australian Government Department of Education.  
“In 2023 to 2024 more than 100 teachers and BCE staff have engaged with this professional learning experience, which helps strengthen positive outcomes for young people on the autism spectrum. 
“Positive relationships between students and their teachers provide safe and supportive learning spaces that build connection and support wellbeing. Adrian’s life experience brings authenticity and richness to these relationships.” 
About Adrian Wilkinson: 
Adrian Wilkinson is an Assistant Principal at St Peter Claver College Riverview and has a passion for supporting neuro-divergent learners, particularly those with ASD. 
Adrian's personal experiences as an individual diagnosed with autism and as a parent to a child with autism informs his approach to education and advocacy, enriching his perspective with firsthand insight and a deep understanding of the unique needs and strengths of individuals with ASD. 
Adrian is currently authoring a book that delves into the journey of navigating an ASD diagnosis of a school aged child, providing insights into what to anticipate during the process as a parent or caregiver. Additionally, the book will also explore the unique experience of discovering one's own ASD diagnosis in adulthood.  


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