Hilde De Clercq is an international expert in the field of autism: she gives presentations, workshops, training and professional advice in Belgium and abroad. At the same time, she is the mother of a son with autism. This combination gives her a special perspective on autism, combining scientific knowledge with real-life experience. This also makes her a perfect interpreter of parents’ needs and interests. Hilde De Clercq has a diploma in Philosophy and Literature from Ghent University. She succeeded Theo Peeters as director of the Opleidingscentrum Autisme in Antwerp and works as an independent trainer and coach for parents and professionals. Her presentations and workshops are tailor-made and cover a variety of topics including cognition, augmentative communication, sensory issues, partnership between parents and professionals, preparing for adulthood, eating problems, leisure skills, emotional development, social skills, and neurodiversity. She also works on a freelance basis for several higher-education schools.
Hilde is especially well-known for her profound and « ethical » understanding of autism, seen through the « lens » of the condition. She, more than anyone, is aware that autism must be understood from the inside, not from the outside. Her emphasis is on understanding the causes of stress-related problems. By understanding these causes, she seeks to explain how to prevent so-called « behaviour problems ». This approach is based on what is commonly known as « the iceberg-theory »: the tip of the iceberg is only the symptom.
She has published two books about the different cognitive style in autism. Both books have been translated into several languages. She is also an international associate editor of GAP (Good Autism Practice), published by the University of Birmingham, and has a TEACCH affiliation (University of Chapel Hill, North Carolina).