ADFaNA aims to helps professionals, families and autistic people learn more about dietary, feeding and nutrition problems faced by autistic children and adults.
Through learning about how much more common many problems are and why we think they are more common, will help then to start to recognise what management of these issues will be most helpful.
These courses are carefully crafted to be accessible to all, and based on the best possible evidence and guidelines.
Feedback on previous courses
“We learned a huge amount through this event”
“I liked best… the interactive style and practical content.”
“Well-referenced, evidence-based, common-sense, best practice approach, delivered by professionals very experienced in this field”
“An excellent study day – would thoroughly (and have done) recommend to colleagues. Came away feeling inspired!”
“I liked best… the level of knowledge and experience and enthusiasm of speakers – so well read and up to date”
26% rated the course ‘very good’ and 74% rated it as ‘excellent’
100% would recommend to a friend
Hi, I’m Zoe Connor.
I developed an interest in autism and working with autistic people when studying biochemistry at Cardiff University in 1998. When looking for volunteering opportunities I opted to train with the National Autistic Society as a befriender, and then spent many of my Wednesday afternoons hanging out with a lovely energetic 10-year-old who loved reading books and watching videos of Thomas, bouncing on his trampoline and giving big hugs.
My early career in the NHS
Fast-forward a few years and after going on to train as a dietitian after deciding lab-work wasn't for me, I had cut my teeth spending a couple of years on rotations as a junior dietitian in big London teaching hospitals, and was enjoying moving into paediatrics in a smaller hospital. I was perplexed that so many children coming to my clinic were autistic and had so many dietary struggles. We hadn't learnt about this at all during my training, and my standard advice just wasn't helping. So I started reading and asking round and found a small group of dietitians who had set up a new British Dietetic Association group for dietitians specialising in or interested in autism. Through these wonderfully supportive and more experienced dietitians I started to learn the different approaches needed to effectively support autistic children and their families through feeding and nutritional problems.
Starting to specialise
I went on to work in a fantastic NHS paediatric community job when a lot of my caseload was working with children with different disabilities, and differences. I learnt more and more about autism through talking to parents, talking to autistic children, working closely with specialist schools and teams.
Fastforward a few years again and frustrated by my lack of understanding of autism when I first qualified I had successfully pushed for a chapter on this to be added to our key textbook Clinical Paediatric Dietetics (a detailed chapter I have now authored in 3 editions), and I had been elected to chair of the growing British Dietetic Association autism group.
Training other dietitians
In 2011, my fantastic colleague and fellow dietitian Elaine Mealey and I started to run training for dietitians in autism - this grew from short sessions to a one-day and then a two-day course - the Autism for Dietitians Masterclass. Recognising we were too busy with our other work to run a regular two day course we recorded the masterclass and made the recordings available for sale. We were blown away by the feedback we received on these courses that have been viewed by dietitians and other professionals from all over the world.
Over the years since then I have carried on my interest in autism - working in various NHS posts in both paediatrics and adult learning disabilities, and also via my nutrition consultancy NutritionNutrition Ltd trading as Zoe Connor Dietitian.
Alongside autism I have always enjoyed being an educator, and taking up lecturing posts have enabled me to complete my PGCert in Higher Education, and hone my skills in teaching and in particular developing online content.
My work has been taking more toward research more recently - I secured a competitive place on a National Institute of Health Research funder MRes (Masters by clinical research), and carried out a qualitative research project looking at the views of parents of children with autism around feeding problems as well as in a separate project a large questionnaire of diet, feeding and nutrition problems in autism across the UK. I am hoping the results of these studies will be published very soon and will lead on to me carrying out more research related to autism.
So that leads me on to the inception of ADFaNA. Following the success of the Autism for Dietitians Masterclasses, I have been regularly asked to update this, and to do other training not just for dietitians but for early years professionals, parents, doctors, nurses, nutritionists and many other groups. Unfortunately due to my research, other work commitments and family and person commitments I've kept having to say no. Until now - I have finally found some time to pull together all the most useful information for you - here.