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Passwerk Lifetime Achievement Award 2023

Passwerk's board of directors chose Dominique Dumortier as laureate for the Passwerk Lifetime Achievement Award 2023.

In 1996, Dominique Dumortier got her degree as a Special Education Generalist from the Karel de Grote Hogeschool. However, working in the social sector was difficult, especially in terms of contacts with colleagues. She questioned herself enormously and decided to write an extensive report about it. Dominique knows she is different. She knows she has always been different for as long as she can remember… She described everything that was difficult and different from others. Everything she struggled with she wrote down along with numerous examples. This became the foundation for her first book. With this in-depth report, she went to a psychiatrist. The ball started rolling. In February 2000, she was given an autism spectrum diagnosis. She was 24 at the time. In May of the same year, the diagnosis was confirmed by another test centre (she wanted to be absolutely sure).

During that period, Dominique came into contact with Theo Peeters, founder of Opleidingscentrum Autisme (OCA), among others. He had her give a testimonial at a major autism conference. Her first book was published in 2002 at another of Peeters's conferences: 'From another planet – autism from within'. A well-written book that clearly and with daily examples concretely explains what autism means to her. The requests from newspapers and magazines for an interview poured in. She also appeared on several TV shows. At that time it was still new for someone with autism to speak out and explain what it means. It was not at all common to be diagnosed in adulthood.

Her book became a bestseller and the requests for testimonials kept coming. Dominique worked for Theo for several years and spoke about her autism throughout Belgium and the Netherlands. In 2015, she started working at VVA (Vlaamse Vereniging Autisme). There she gave testimonials on specific themes related to autism as well as several basic courses for parents.

Finally, Dominique founded an NPO in 2017. She gives lectures, testimonials and courses for ‘vzw autisme van binnenuit’ . In addition, she has been working for several years as a personal assistant (PAB) for people with disabilities. She published her second book in 2018. ‘Op mijn manier; (over)leven met autisme’ (My way: living and surviving with autism). This book is mainly about her evolution, about how she is doing now, so many years later.

Dominique will continue to speak about autism as long as questions are asked about it and as long as she notices she is helping people with autism, parents, teachers, professionals and others. She succeeds particularly well in explaining autism clearly, based on concrete, everyday examples. And she will continue as long as this is a help. As a persistent fighter for more understanding.


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