Executive Committee Members

Dear Friends & Colleagues,

It gives us great pleasure to invite you to the 5th World Autism Organisation (WAO) Congress that will be hosted in Houston, Texas, 12 – 15 November 2018.


Executive Committee Members

All members of the Executive Committee are parents of a child with autism. We have all experienced the pressures of trying to help and support our children in difficult circumstances and we have all cried and known despair at times and also rejoiced as our children make progress. We have all been personally involved in developing services in our own countries and in working with politicians and policy makers in attempting to ensure that our beloved children, as well as yours, are not forgotten and have the chance of a life of safety, of respect and happiness. Our “children” are now adults and their future is to some extent assured but it is our duty as well as our joy to fight with all that we have to help others children and adults all over the world to achieve these same possibilities.

President: Jill Stacey (South Africa) is the Mother of a 29 year old with an Autism Spectrum Condition. Jill and her family live in Johannesburg, where Jill was a founding member of the National Body, Autism South Africa in 1989 and National Director of this organisation from 1997 - 2013. Jill has received a Paul Harris Fellowship for her services for people with autism, as well as receiving the Presidents' award of the Hamlet Foundation.

In 2006 Jill with support from the World Autism Organisation and a strong team in South Africa was chiefly responsible for arranging the highly successful 2nd World Autism Organisation Conference that attracted close to 1000 delegates, 130 speakers and 100 poster presentations. Jill has been involved with the WAO since 2001 and presently is the Honorary Secretary and President-Elect, taking on the Presidency in November 2014.

Immediate Past President: Paul Shattock (England) Father of Jamie (born October 2000) who has a severe form of autism. Pharmacist by training (now retired).

Taught pharmacy and related subjects at the University of Sunderland and established the Autism Research Unit in 1982. Previously Hon. Secretary of Tyne and Wear Autistic Society (1975-88) and Autism-Europe (1989-2000) and Executive Member of National Autistic Society, Currently Chairman of Educational Services for People with Autism (ESPA) a charity providing residential and day services for 200 adolescents and adults with autism in North East England. Appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the Queen in 1999.

Honorary Treasurer: Søren Dalgaard (Denmark) Father of a 26 year old son, Niklas, who has autism. Currently, 59 years old and working as a major in the Danish Army. Has been involved in the work of Autism for 20 years by establishing Schools, Houses, Respite Care for Children & Adults and Working facilities for people with Autism. Has had a lot of Board positions in various Special Kindergarten, School, Parents Organisations Boards and in the Danish National Board of Autism Organisation. Additionally, he has participated in several Working Groups within County and Municipalities.

Founder and Chairman of the Langvadbjerg Foundation and Resource Center West, Chairman of the Local Autism Association of Mid-West Jutland Has worked within the WAO for the past 10 years.

Honorary Secretary: Petra Dillmann (Namibia)

Legal Advisor: Pat Matthews (Ireland) Father of a man with Autism and is the Executive Director of the Irish Society for Autism, which provides residential services to people with Autism in Ireland. He is co-author of the European Charter of Rights for persons with Autism, which was approved by the E.C. in May 1996. Pat and his wife Nuala were awarded a People of the Year Award in Ireland in 1996 in recognition of this achievement.

He is a founder member and former 1st Vice-President of Autism Europe - is a founder member and was the 1st President of the World Autism Organisation. Pat Matthews and his wife Nuala are invited to many European and International seminars to speak on Rights Issues for people with Autism. He was conferred with an honorary doctorate from Trinity College Dublin in December 2010. During a lifetime of commitment to people with autism he has changed the ways in which people with autism are regarded and treated in society. He has campaigned most forcefully nationally and internationally for the rights of people with autism and has pioneered a deeper understanding of autism and his work has established an ethos of respect and regard for people with Autism.

Past President: Isabel Bayonas (Spain and Latin America). Mother of four children, of whom the oldest David, is already an adult of 46 years with autism (March 1967). Mounted bullfighter, now she’s retired from the stands, dedicates her time to “fight” to politicians.

Founder of the first autism association in Spain (APNA), as well as other relevant regional and international associations as the Spanish Federation of Autism (FESPAU), Autism-Europe (AE), Latin American Federation of Autism (FELAC) or the World Autism Organisation (WAO). Currently she holds the following posts: FESPAU President, Member of the EC of the National Disability Council in Spain (CERMI) and Commissioner of International Affairs for the same body; member of the CA of Autism-Europe; APNA President and Chairperson of all its services. Speaker in both national and international conferences, mainly on topics related with the relevant role of the family supporting and normalizing people with disabilities lives. Awarded with the Cross of Merit to Social Volunteering by the Government of Spain in 2011, for her tireless work in promoting associativim movements and civil society strengthening.

Vice President: Samira Al-Saad (Western Asia and Arab Countries) Mother of a daughter with autism. Founder & Director of Kuwait Center for Autism (1994). Founder & President of Gulf Autism Union (since 2002). Founder & Editor of the first specialized periodical in Autism & Special needs – “Silent Scream” newsletter distributed in the whole Middle East since 2002. Founder & the Head of Kuwait Autism Society (2006).

Her researches were published in International Scientific Journals had more than 20 books about autism in Arabic. Member of many national & international societies. Has won many prizes as Princes Haya award for S.E(United Arab Emirates), Prince Salman award (Saudi Arabia), Ideal Mother award, Best establishment run by a lady (Kuwait). And most important Jan Amos Comenius Medal From UNESCO to acknowledge her work as an educator, who has made a significant contribution to the development of education in field of Autism.

Executive Member: Rogelio Garza (Mexico)

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