An inspirational Masterclass with Peter Vermeulen


The Autism Association staff who attended our recent Masterclass, introducing Dr Peter Vermeulen to Perth, reported very favourably on the two-day event; and we felt confident there would be positive feedback from others who attended. We were not disappointed. To the contrary, the volume and intensity of appreciation has been overwhelming. While our Masterclasses have always drawn forth appreciative comments from participants, Peter Vermeulen seemed to reach his audience in an incredibly knowing way. He brings his expertise around Autism to a personal level, to the everyday life of those with Autism, the families, the teachers—how we can make life so much better for everyone. Especially for the person who has Autism.

Rather than providing our words to show the impact of this two-day event we have chosen to present the impressions of other people who attended—their own words. These responses reflect those of many others—similar thoughts stated in many different ways.

First, a few brief responses. Then we would like to share the thoughtful reflections of three people who travelled from distant, remote parts of the state to attend the Masterclass.

  • I feel like it has been life-changing with the manner in which I approach my son’s care, therapy, future expectations and his understanding of the world.
  • Brilliant, such an amazing in-depth knowledge of autism saying what is really needed.
  • Excellent presenter, superb content. Feeling inspired by the content and strategies.
  • Wonderful two days of learning and an amazing learning opportunity to come to Australia.
  • Presenter strongly encouraged critical thinking and reflective practice—amazing.

What a truly refreshing perspective Peter Vermeulen brings to the world of Autism. I found Peter to be an amazingly connected presenter, both with his Autism connections around the world and to us, his Perth audience. His extensive experience was evident throughout the conference and he provided me with some practical insight and advice throughout his address. The examples he used I could relate to and will use them in the future whenever the opportunity presents itself.

As an Education Assistant and parent of a child with Autism, I found Peter connected not only to what is happening in the brains of individuals with Autism but also to what parents and teachers need to know in order to teach and support effectively both at home and in our school environments.

Kay Few

I was lucky enough to receive funding to attend the course through the Autism Association. Coming from a country town it is quite an expense to attend anything in Perth, so having the course funded allowed me to attend where I otherwise would not have been able to.

The venue was amazing. Sweeping views of the river and the city, I am not sure how Peter was able to concentrate on his teachings with that view behind us all. The food was delicious. And the coffee was bottomless, a major perk after leaving home at 6am on Day One!

Peter was an excellent speaker. He had us all engaged from the get go. When challenged by some audience members who did not necessarily agree with a certain statement he made he was happy to listen and acknowledge that there was a difference of opinion. He spoke in a way that was easy for to understand, not using too many ‘technical’ terms which as a parent and not a professional I really appreciated! 

I have come away from the Masterclass with a new knowledge on not just ‘Viewing Autism as Context Blindness’ but on Autism in general. I look forward to using this new information to help interact with not just my son, but other Autistic people in our community. 

Thank you Autism Association for the opportunity to attend this Masterclass, and a big thank you to Peter Vermeulen for sharing his experiences and knowledge with us.

Kind regards,
Miranda Lee

Firstly l want to thank you for the wonderful opportunity to attend the two day conference. I am a mother of a 23 year old daughter diagnosed with Autism at 18yrs. I thoroughly enjoyed both days at the conference. The setting and hospitality were wonderful.

I have brought up Rachel flexibly as she was my 5th child so l enjoyed and identified a lot of Peter’s teaching re this.  I was reminded by him to be more concrete in my way of speaking to her. I enjoyed his thoughts on practised applause and the fact that guessing is faster than reason and the fact that if you give control you lessen anxiety.

Peter shared Albert Einstein’s quote. “Everything should be made as simple as possible but not simpler”. This touched me. Also that, “Everything is relative”. Nothing has an absolute meaning. I found something as simple as drawing a mouth and a throat can enable a thought process to become easier very helpful.  I will be using this for my daughter when she feels it’s difficult to take tablets.

A reward for being brave and the series of folders for outdoor and indoor activities were very good ideas and the fact that when she says “no” to something …it’s not because she doesn’t want it …it’s because she doesn’t know it and so it’s best to give her responsibility and let her experience the profit.

I am happy in a way…that Rachel was diagnosed late although l was mystified at times at some of her behaviour. When l heard that an early diagnosis or a diagnosis in itself can become too big. I can identify with that.

I enjoyed the quote that nature never draws a line without smudging it.

I must also remember to let Rachel choose her own shampoo and let her smell it and not just impose my will. I hope to push the Context button more often from now on to keep improving her wellbeing and quality of life and help her overcome the challenges and obstacles!

I took comfort in the fact that low functioning adults can lead a very happy life.

On closing l was moved to tears when Peter shared the picture of the adults cycling with him and the one man shouting back to him “l feel less autistic when I’m with you Peter!”

This moved me…I actually felt it very personally as a Mum because l…at that very moment on a personal  level …sitting in the conference became aware that l felt less isolated as a Mother of a daughter with autism too …sitting amongst such understanding men and women such as yourself.  It gave me renewed confidence and courage.  Thank you once again.

Joy McComb

This inspirational Masterclass with Peter Vermeulen—Explaining Autism as Context Blindness— was a First for Australia; and the Autism Association of WA feels proud to have presented it. Peter will certainly be invited back, some future time.

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