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Tales from across the Ditch

1 February 2024

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Aspect Research Centre for Autism Practice (ARCAP) Postdoctoral Researcher, Dr Chris Edwards shares the highs and lows of his recent visit to Christchurch, New Zealand for the Australasian Society for Autism Research (ASfAR) Conference 2023.

ASfAR Conference image

On December 4th, 2023, I embarked on my journey, eager for the ASfAR 2023 conference in Christchurch. Enjoyed some beef wagyu while watching the Gran Turismo film on the flight over. Reached my hotel around 1 am, thinking I'd go to bed immediately, but ... let's just say the wagyu had other plans for me! That night and following day turned into a bit of a rough patch, and regrettably, I had to skip the first day of the conference.

Ru Ying Cai and Chris Edwards receive Autism CRC award from Cheryl Mangan

Thankfully, with some aid from the ARCAP team and a super helpful hotel concierge, I bounced back, ready for day two. The timing couldn't be better as Professor Laurie McLay's keynote on the importance of sleep really hit home after my sleepless saga. Oh, and a big shoutout to Dr Ru Ying Cai - we received one of the Autism CRC Research Awards for our work on the self-compassion program for Autistic adults. Read more about this award.

The presentations were nothing short of inspiring. From Dr Diana Tan, a rising star discussing participatory autism research, to Cheryl Mangan and Hayley Clapham's insights on inclusive community engagement, I was all ears. I even managed to deliver my Margot Prior Awardee Keynote, talking about social media insights on autism disclosure. Despite feeling under the weather and sharing some rather ‘disgusting’ research results, the positive feedback from the delegates was heartwarming.

Nikki's new engagement ring

It's incredible how much amazing autism research is happening in Australia and New Zealand. Meeting the faces behind the emails and online profiles was a highlight for sure.

And what's a work trip without a little fun? Turned it into a mini-vacay when my partner joined me in Christchurch. We explored Queenstown, Milford Sound, Te Anau, Dunedin, and Mt Cook - a breathtaking drive! I'd say she had a blast too (see photo -->>)!

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