Excerpt from a speaking engagement for Autism Awareness Australia: “Five lessons I wish I’d learned growing up with autism”, delivered at Sydney Opera House on 5th April 2018 (subtitles available).
Since leaving teaching I have become an international speaker, providing regular talks and training sessions on autism-related issues. To date my audience range has included:
- School staff teams
- Special school students themselves
- Autism charities
- Parent groups from London to Cardiff to Glasgow
- CAMHS/NHS teams
- Professionals working in recruitment
- National Autistic Society branches
- The 2016, 2017 and 2018 Autism Shows
- The Boys’ Brigade National Conference in Belfast
- Six people in a leisure centre café
- A sell-out audience at Sydney Opera House.
I am a former primary school teacher and current special needs tutor with Asperger syndrome, and I have both personal and professional insight into autism. I make sure to speak openly, frankly, yet positively, about how to build up people on the autism spectrum to become the best we can be. Examples of common topics include insights into education from an autistic teacher, lessons I learned (or wish I’d learned) growing up with Asperger Syndrome, helping autistic clients in mental health contexts, and how to build up autistic young people inside and outside of schools.
Although based in the UK, I also take on international engagements.
“I really think you’ll soon be one of the most influential voices in the autism world.” Travis Saunders, education consultant, autism advocate, public speaker and former teacher of 20 years.
“Well done Chris! Great insights and information!” Sue Larkey, author and speaker about autism issues, and former mainstream and special needs teacher.
“Can we have you back?” Gareth Parry, CEO of Remploy UK (literally moments after I sat down at the end of my talk).
Testimonials from professionals:
“The staff are all raving about your training this morning. The general consensus is that it’s the best training we’ve ever had.” Teacher, primary school in Belfast
“Thank you for speaking at our AGM. We expected you were going to be good. As it turned out, you were actually awesome.” Managing director, Autism Concern Northamptonshire
“Was great to hear you talk today, what a brilliant event full of inspiration and awesomeness.” Foster carer, Kingston-upon-Thames
“Hearing Chris talk was the best hour of my Friday.” Support worker (MacIntyre No Limits), Oxford
Testimonials from parents:
“I don’t have to worry about my teenage son as much as I have been doing. Chris is very much like him.” Parent in Cardiff
“We got lots of positive feedback from everyone at the meeting – adults and teens. Your presentation was great, it was brave of you to open up to questions and a lot of the teens really appreciated being able to go up to you afterwards to chat.” Parent in Lewisham
“As a parent of a child on spectrum, Over the years I have been to many talks and the speakers that always have the most impact on me aren’t the professionals but someone whom is on the spectrum. As a parent it can sometimes be hard to stay positive you can’t see where you’re child is heading. But to see you speak, to hear about your life, this has been encouraging and uplifting.” Parent in Tower Hamlets
“It’s an over-used word, but your talk was inspirational. I think our young people benefit greatly when they hear positive messages coming from someone like themselves (and, particularly, someone who isn’t their mum or dad!)” Parent in Lewisham
“Schools could really benefit from Chris delivering staff training to them.” Parent in Cardiff
Testimonials from young people:
“Hearing your advice tonight has helped me get on the right path. Thank you.” Rhys, 16
“You are good at talking.” Elijah, 8
To organise a speaking engagement, please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
I always respond, although please remember to check your junk mail folder. In the event that I don’t, I suspect it’s because your email has bounced: in those cases, I can also be contacted via Autistic Not Weird’s Facebook page.
Chris Bonnello, BSc (hons) PGCE MA-
Underdogs, a near-future dystopia novel where the heroes are teenagers with special needs, is soon to be released through Unbound Publishing. A character-driven war story which pitches twelve people against an army of millions, it balances intense action with a deeply developed neurodiverse cast.
Chris Bonnello is a national and international autism speaker, available to lead talks and training sessions from the perspective of an autistic former teacher. For further information please click here (opens in new window).
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