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April 2014



Recent Posts


I live with autism and I’m grateful

Daniel Giles is a member of the Autism Future Leaders program. Source: Supplied


LET me tell you a bit about my life. I was diagnosed with autism when I was two-and-a-half years old. As a child, I had severe language delays and felt as if I was living behind a glass wall, as if my life was like a video that I starred in, but I had no control over.


My severe communication delay (as well as appearing to have an intellectual disability) meant I attended the Bendigo Special Developmental School for much of my primary school years.


But I graduated from there in grade 5 and attended the mainstream primary school. With the amazing support of my integration aide, teachers and family (who all wanted me to reach my full potential), I completed my secondary education through to year 12 before completing my Bachelor of Graphic Design (with Honours) at La Trobe University in Bendigo.


I now live independently and work as a freelance graphic designer, as well as working part-time as an in-house graphic designer and photographer for a local business in Bendigo.


I believe that what I have achieved shows what can be done when people living with autism are able to reach their potential. And that’s why Thursday’s official launch in Canberra of the world’s first Autism Co-operative Research Centre is so important.


Autism CRC is the world’s first national co-operative research program for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Government, universities, research centres and not-for-profit organisations will work towards solutions for people living with what is a complex and challenging condition.


How complex and how challenging? I am so grateful for my life but it is difficult sometimes. I have high anxiety levels while navigating the world around me, and that has impacted on my ability to manage clients. I’m also stressed easily by changes of plans, a busy environment or an overload of information.


So I’d like to see research done on what would benefit those of us on the autism spectrum, including research into educating people on the spectrum and preparing for transition and independent living. I’d also like to see research on helping with the management of meltdowns, providing quiet spaces in public venues and on business owners being better able to communicate with people on the spectrum.


I believe researching how employers could cater to the needs of people with autism should also be a high priority.


My biggest hope, though, is that the Autism CRC avoids research that focuses on eugenics and any potential of eliminating people with autism. Instead, it should be focusing on helping people on the spectrum become the best they can possibly be.


That is relevant given that autism can now be detected at one year of age or earlier, once the genetic code is identified, and that future research may lead to the prenatal identification of autism.


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