Organised by The National Autistic Society (NAS) – an NAS Masterclass is a short training session that is focused on a specialist topic, delivered for practitioners within the autism field. The facilitator is someone who has developed expertise in the topic, demonstrated by their research output and/or practice.

We are pleased to announce our next NAS Masterclass…

Delivered by Dr Peter Vermeulen, this masterclass will examine autism and intimate relationships.

Date and time: 15 September 2016, 1pm – 4pm

Venue: Hotel Novotel Edinburgh Centre, 80 Lauriston Place, Edinburgh EH3 9DE

Cost: £120 + VAT

Engaging in relationships, especially intimate relationships, is a tough challenge for people with an autism spectrum disorder. Many of the relational skills and knowledge that neurotypical people seem to develop effortlessly and spontaneously are clogged by the way an autistic brain understands the world. Most people with high-functioning autism or Asperger syndrome have a desire to relate to other people and many of them want to have friends or an intimate relationship. Unfortunately, for them, the road from desire to successful relationships is often strewn with obstacles.

In the first part of the Masterclass, we explore the challenges people on the autism spectrum are facing when building relationships. We will describe how many of these challenges are linked to the specific way of information processing in the autistic brain, which we describe as context blindness. Relational competence is not just a matter of social skills, Theory of Mind or knowing the ‘hidden and unspoken’ rules. Since there are no fixed scripts or rules in an intimate relationship, relational competence is first and most of all a matter of context sensitive guessing.

Building upon this knowledge, in the second part of this Masterclass we will outline the general principles for helping people on the autism spectrum to understand and build relationships. How can we teach them to do all the smart guessing involved in relationships? In particular, we will focus on the importance of clarifying the abstract, vague and context sensitive rules and ingredients of relationships. We will also show that we should clarify even those things that most people think of as being obvious. And we will demonstrate how we can teach, talk or counsel about the abstract issues in relationships in a concrete and autism friendly way. We will illustrate with examples from a new psycho-education programme developed for youngsters and adults with ASD, named “autism@relations” (not yet available in English).

This session will be relevant for those working with teenagers and adults on the autism spectrum.

About the speaker

Peter Vermeulen has published more than 15 books and several articles on autism, including I am Special: A Workbook to Help Children, Teens and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders to Understand Their Diagnosis’ and Autism as context blindness.

Working as an autism consultant and lecturer at Autisme Centraal, Peter is Co-director of the Centre for Concrete Communication, a European training and education centre for autism spectrum disorders. Peter previously worked with the Flemish Autism Association, first as a home trainer for families with a child on the autism spectrum, later as director of the home training centre and finally as trainer-lecturer.

Over in the UK as a Keynote Speaker at the Autism Europe International Congress, this is a unique opportunity to hear Dr Peter Vermeulen deliver one of our Masterclasses.

Book your place

For information about our other training, please visit