Hilra Gondim Vinha

Name Hilra Gondim Vinha
Job Title and Organisation Learning Support Co-ordinator at Richard Taunton Sixth Form College
Introduction/Background (experience, qualifications, current work/research, etc.) At the age of two I was given the bittersweet present of a physically and intellectually disabled – with classic autistic traits – baby brother. When he was born, an advocate-sister was also born. My entire life has been affected and influenced by his life, and by the strong bond we developed over the years. Therefore, I cannot find a better way to describe how much the human rights of people with learning disabilities are part of the fabric I am made of. It is more than a cause I support; it is who I am.

I worked in senior management of mainstream educational settings, continuously working collaboratively with teaching and supporting staff.

In the past 10 years I have focused on Inclusive practices in Education, which was the topic of my doctorate thesis in 2011. Since then, I have immersed myself in learning about the Autistic Spectrum conditions as this became a central part of my work.

I hold PhD in Education (University of Southampton) and I am also a qualified Access Arrangements Assessor. I am currently completing a Level 7 qualification in Autistic Spectrum Conditions – Knowledge and Skills.

What does the ACoRNS project mean to you? I have worked in Education my whole adult life, having a particular interest for the Freirean critical pedagogy, which is founded on a dialogical philosophy. ACoRNS brings opportunities for such dialogue to happen among like-minded professionals who work on the field of Autism.
Areas of interest I am interested in opportunities to promote a fair chance for young people on the autistic spectrum – or displaying some autistic traits – of developing their abilities to enjoy life. I have a particular interest in Autism Awareness initiatives to empower young people via self-awareness and a robust understanding of their condition as well as of their rights as citizens.