Our patron John Doyle AM, has a very personal connection to Aspect. John grew up in rural Australia with his older sister Jennifer, who is on the autism spectrum. John clearly recalls the day his parents returned from Sydney having met with our founder Dr Andrew Vern Barnett. The joy the family felt at having received the diagnosis that changed their lives has inspired John to support Aspect in the work they do with other families.
Our Patron's Statement
Since becoming patron of Autism Spectrum Australia, I have often reflected on my own experiences of growing up in 1950s rural Australia with Mum and Dad and my sister Jennifer, who has autism.
Back then country doctors placed people like Jennifer in the broad and rather ignorant category of ‘subnormal’, thereby confining them to a life isolated from community and devoid of opportunity. It also locked Mum and Dad into a lifetime of care. I’m still in awe of their achievements. While Dad held down two jobs, Mum managed the corner store and cared for both Jennifer and her ageing mother.
I can still recall the euphoria when Mum and Dad returned from Sydney having met with the man who would later become the founder of The Autistic Society of NSW (later Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect)), Dr Vern Barnett. At the age of 11, Jen was diagnosed as being on the spectrum.
In all of the years that Mum has taken care of Jennifer, she had only ever seen one other autistic child. When she visited Aspect’s Central Coast School with Dad, my sisters and brother and my wife Deanna and I, she was amazed by the progress being made by so many children.
I have personally come into contact with two former colleagues who have autistic children.
My wish for all of the people living on the spectrum and their families is that you too will have access to timely and effective interventions.
Aspect and its dedicated staff remain committed to reaching the many families in our community who have an autistic family member.
I am inspired by the work that is being done by Aspect, and thank each and every one of you who support this great organisation. Please continue to give generously so that more families living with this lifelong disability will have access to timely and effective interventions and benefit from seeing their loved ones progress.
With best wishes,