With a beautiful backdrop that has proved a great inspiration for artists, Nice has been enjoying a genuine economic and architectural revolution in recent years. Boasting cutting-edge infrastructure (with Nice Acropolis Congress & Exhibition Center leading the way right in the city centre), from its international airport to its 200 hotels and 10,000 rooms, and the ability to facilitate the planning of events like Autism-Europe’s 12th International Congress back in September 2019.
Attended by 2,200 people from 80 different countries representing the whole autism spectrum, from parents to professionals, carers and other interested parties, that particular event, which aims to share advances in practical and scientific knowledge about autism to as wide an audience as possible, was a sheer success. “The 2019 congress’ motto was ‘A new Dynamic for Change and Inclusion’, in keeping with our aspiration that international scientific research on autism should be translated into concrete changes and foster social inclusion for autistic people of all ages and needs,” explains Zsuzsanna Szilvásy, President of Autism-Europe.“Our congresses strive to be a place where all interested stakeholders can meet to exchange and reflect on how to shape better lives for autistic people.”
And Nice and Congress Center Nice Acropolis were the perfect places to do that, especially since Autism France, which was instrumental in getting the congress to the city, is headquartered in the region. In this regard, Nice is a knowledge hub and has been attracting the attention of associations for this specific reason. With internationally recognized healthcare facilities including 9 hospitals, 26 clinics, and seven specialist centres, it’s a leading centre of scientific and medical research.
This allowed the organizers of the Congress to provide a hands-on approach to their delegates, in the sense that technical visits could be arranged. “We visited the Centre for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in Levens , near Nice,” explains one participant. “The name is FAM for Foyer d’Accueil Médicalisé, and is managed by the organization Association Autisme Apprendre Autrement. We spent two days following different activities and participated in the meetings with director Anne Guennoun and the CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) specialist Olivier Bourgueil. This experience was positive in all aspects.”
After the Congress, a visit to Avencod in Nice was also arranged – they have developed a method to enhance the employability of persons on the autism spectrum in the IT sector. Founded in 2016 with the support from Provence Promotion, Avencod have been working on IT projects for CMA CGM, a French container transportation and shipping company, and Airbus Helicopters. As a direct result of this visit, similar initiatives are now being discussed in other European countries.