The AutWave Conference

Helsinki, October 5-6 2018

The AutWave Conference will bring together autistic people, researchers and supporters to discuss the themes of peer support, participatory autism research, networking and advocacy.

 Following the tradition of the Empowerment events in Finland, this event is organized by a team of volunteers, considering the needs of participants on the autism spectrum first and foremost.


This year, the volunteers are supported by the workers of the VaVe project and the University of Helsinki research group on special pedagogy.

Projects and initiatives where autistic people are in central roles will be introduced by visiting speakers from four countries: Sweden, Estonia, Malta and the Czech Republic. For presentations held by local speakers in Finnish, English summaries will be provided in the form of captioning shown alongside the presentation slides. Workshops will only run in Finnish, English or Swedish, but if necessary, we will attempt to find volunteer interpreters to assist individual participants.

There will be an extra meeting space available throughout the event. This can be booked to set up your own group discussion or workshop to complement the main programme. We would like to encourage participants from other countries to use this as an opportunity to network with each other and with our local autistic community.

Below is a short version of the programme. Information on speakers and presentations will be added shortly.

Attendance and the afternoon coffee & tea are free on both days.

For further details in English, or to register as a participant from outside Finland, send email to:

Emmi Varis,



Friday, October 5

9.30-10.00 Registration

10.00-10.10 Heta Pukki and Henri Pesonen: Opening words
10.10-11.00 Henri Pesonen and Irene Rämä: Current autism

research at the University of Helsinki (in Finnish)
11.10-12.00 Karelia Wilenius, Emmi Varis, Miramaria Ratia, Toivo Huovi

nen: Autistic people as providers of peer support: Benefits, challenges and promoting well-being (in Finnish)

12.00-13.00 Lunch break

13.00-13.30 Michal Roškanuk: Kopec – a community centre as realization of societal inclusion and meaningful peer interaction (in English)
13.30-14.00 Jaanus Tarnov: Developing peer groups for autistic people in Tallinn (in English)
14.00-14.30 Serena Hasselblad: Experiences of the project Autistic Initiative

14.30-15.00 Coffee break

15.00-15.15 Heta Pukki and David Andrews: Current information on the situation of autistic adults in Finland: Results of the ASY membership survey (in Finnish)
15.15-16.00 Tarja Parviainen: The autism spectrum in the EU: The ASDEU project and its results (in Finnish)

Saturday, October 6

9.30-10.00 Registration

10.00-10.45 Workshops

Room 1 Vesa Korhonen, the Autism Acceptance Project: The concept and practice of autism friendly services (in Finnish)
Room 2 Serena Hasselblad: Hur samarbetar vi i autistiska arbetsgrupper? (in Swedish)
Room 3 Helena Öhman: The Creative Spectrum arts & crafts workshop (in Finnish)

11.00-11.45 Workshops

Room 1 Juha Ojaniemi: NGOs as social and health care service providers in Finland (in Finnish)
Room 2 Alistair de Gaetano: Lobbying for Change: Case Studies at the Maltese & EU Levels (in English)
Room 3 Helena Öhman: The Creative Spectrum arts & crafts workshop (in Finnish)

11.45-13.00 Lunch break

13.00-13.45 Workshops

Room 1 Maija Oksanen: The AS café as a form of peer-run activity (in Finnish)
Room 2 The VaVe project workers and peer group leaders: Developing peer support (in Finnish)
Room 3 Helena Öhman: The Creative Spectrum arts & crafts workshop (in Finnish)

13.45-14.45 Coffee break

15.00-15.30 Michal Roškanuk: To keep both river banks – how to change people’s perceptions and influence the government and municipalities (in English)
15.30-16.00 Alistair de Gaetano and Emily Slater: Influencing legislation and social policy to develop autism friendly societies in Malta and the EU (in English)
16.15-17.15 Workshop summaries and panel discussion on Autism Friendly Finland (in Finnish)
17.15-17.30 Concluding words

18.00-20.00 Evening entertainment