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Passwerk Lifetime Achievement Award 2022

Passwerk's board of directors chose Toon DeVriendt as laureate for the Passwerk Lifetime Achievement Award 2022.

Toon DeVriendt graduated with a degree in remedial education from KU Leuven in 1972. He then began working as a remedial educationalist/scientific collaborator in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Groningen (Netherlands) where he quickly came into contact with several children/adolescents with autism and their families. He also became active in the (at that time) regional parent association “Noordelijke Stichting Autisme”. It was mainly the newer insights into autism that attracted him the most.

In 1977, he returned to Belgium where he worked for 25 years as a remedial educationalist/family counsellor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Medical-Psychiatric clinic) at UZ Gasthuisberg in Leuven. There too, he was particularly interested in (early) diagnosis of autistic children and the first counselling for the family. More articles and presentations throughout the whole of Flanders followed. He was also an often-requested speaker in the many parent groups being established, parent groups that would later become the VVA (Flemish Autism Association).

In 1982, together with several other parents, he founded ‘De Speling’, a facility and treatment centre for adolescents with autism, where he also worked part time. The gained experience in De Speling and the progressive insights regarding autism issues were shared intensively with many institutes and schools who showed a growing interest in developing more specific care for children/adolescents with autism.

Autigone (1988) and Huis 3 (2001), two facilities for adults with autism, followed later. From 2001 until his retirement in 2011, he worked in three facilities for people with autism.


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