What have our alumni achieved since graduating?
Emily Nicoll's story
See how far the ASD community has comeI thoroughly enjoyed the Autism and Education Seminar on Friday 27 May 2016 at the Department of Education and Training Autism Hub. In my opinion, Professor Rita Jordan is the Godmother of ASD - the woman who acts as advisor and mentor to the ASD community. Listening to Rita to was a highlight of the day for me.
I have been a special ed teacher with Education Queensland since 2001 and am currently based at Pine Rivers Special School. I completed my Masters of Special Education under Dr Wendi Beamish at Griffith in 2006; Wendy was a real visionary for the ASD community, especially here in Qld in the early days. Participating in Seminar 2 really drove home for me just how much growth has occurred in the ASD community here in Queensland over the past ten years. Especially in terms of education, both at an Education Queensland department level with the opening of the Autism Hub, and also at the tertiary level with the Autism Centre of Excellence and the Autism CRC contributing to the ASD space. I can bear witness to how far the ASD community has come, and whilst there is always more work to be done, it is important to acknowledge how much progress has been made. This is a credit to you and your team.
In terms of my personal life, my son is a bright 6 year old who 'rocks the spectrum'. I will definitely be looking into the parent advocacy groups you spoke about at the seminar... I think the advocacy role is one of the hardest aspects of the ASD journey for families, especially in that first few years after diagnosis as they adjust to this new role.
Danielle Ward's story
Family member inspires studies
The profound experience of having a family member cope with intellectual impairment inspired Danielle Ward to pursue a Master of Autism Studies. She hoped to use her degree to strive for positive outcomes for people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Danielle said there was an urgent need for greater knowledge and empathy regarding the social, communication and behavioural challenges facing people with developmental disabilities classed as ASDs. ‘With some form of autism diagnosed in one in every hundred people, it’s likely every teacher will come into contact with a person affected by an ASD, so to be armed with that level of professional and personal insight is invaluable,’ Danielle said.
Heather Thewlis' story
Flexibility of online study
Thank you to Professor Jacqueline Roberts and Dr Kate Simpson for all of their efforts to teach such comprehensive information around communication and social interaction for children with ASD. I really enjoyed the course and I know I will certainly take on board all the information from the classes - the readings and feedback from the assessments and work towards really challenging myself to do the best I can when working with people with ASD and their family's that I work with. Thanks again for all your help once again I feel very privileged to have had such wonderful and skilled people teaching me.
Heather Thewlis is a recent Graduate Certificate in Autism Studies students and will continue on to study the Master of Autism Studies. She currently lives in Victoria and took advantage of this program's online offering.
Mandy Chapman's story
Speaking out for children with ASD
Becoming a strong advocate for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their parents and carers is one of Mandy Chapman’s main goals. This student and learning support teacher is undertaking the What are Autism Spectrum Disorders? course as part of her Graduate Certificate in Inclusive Education.
“Mainstream schools are becoming more inclusive of children with disabilities and it is very important that we cater to these children’s needs,’’ she says. “I chose to study this particular course because of the prevalence of children diagnosed with ASD each year.”
The course holds particular significance for Mandy as her 18-year-old son has one of the sub-categories of autism – PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified). “Although he is high-functioning, school was always difficult for him and by studying this course I am trying to play a part in making school an easier and happier place for children with ASD.” Read more.
Todd Whitehead's story
Children inspire Master of Autism Studies
Being the parent of not just one but three young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, inspired Griffith University student Todd Whitehead to obtain his Master of Autism Studies.
Running a home-based IT consulting firm means Todd is able to provide hands-on support to his six-year-old twin boys and three-year old daughter. He also has a seven-year-old daughter without an ASD. Read more.
Christine Zuvela's story
Teaching in autism-specific day care
Sydneysider Christine Zuvela enrolled in the Master of Autism Studies to help her teach in a new autism-specific long day care centre.
She says the study is already expanding her knowledge and understanding of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“I love the different ways to engage in the course – from virtual classrooms, online modules and readings tailored to your needs,’’ she said. Read more.