Ella Azura Pardy, 31, survived 14 years on three-hours of broken sleep per night, before signing up to numerous sporting activities in an effort to sleep better at night.
Overcoming obstacles, such as acute sound sensitivity, motor planning and anxiety, Ella’s efforts to get a good night’s sleep led her to become an elite athlete in Track and Field. Competing in the Para Olympics, Commonwealth Games and Para Athletics World Championships, she became the fastest female 100m and 200m Australian and Oceania sprinter from 2014-2019.
Now as an ambassador, public speaker and mentor for Autistic organisations Ella was recognised with the a different brilliant® Award at the 16th annual Aspect Recognition Awards Ceremony held in Sydney earlier this month.
The Aspect National Recognition Awards acknowledge the achievements of exceptional people in the Autistic and autism communities, with people from around Australia celebrating online and in-person, to recognise individuals, families, carers, and professionals who are either Autistic or support the autism community.
Jacqui Borland, CEO for Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), said that this year’s award recipients and nominees highlight the possibilities of community, determination and support.
“This year’s recipients are such incredible role models for others and demonstrate the importance of inclusion through their talents.”
Fast on Pardy’s heels, Summer Farrelly, 15, was presented the a different brilliant® Youth Award for her efforts as an Autistic advocate, public speaker, Inclusion & Education Consultant, Animal Assisted Learning Program Creator & Facilitator and Animal Therapies Ambassador for people on the autism spectrum.
Sports and the sporting community was a common theme on the evening, with The West Tigers Rugby League Football Club awarded the Autism Friendly Achievement Award for establishing a Quiet Room, providing inclusive access for people on the autism spectrum and their families to their games.
Sarah Nelson and Kylie Cox, Autistic women who established a company to enable hundreds of Autistic youth and their families to enjoy outdoor activities in a safe and inclusive environment, were also recipients on the evening, taking out the Working in Partnership Award.
Professor Josephine Barbaro from LaTrobe University was awarded the ARCAP Research Award for her work in developing a model to help detect autism in infants and toddlers, leading to improved access to early supports and services.
The Autism Community Award went to Annie Lane, who started The Whole Self Independent Life Learning providing support to Autistic teens in crisis, providing access to support works, teachers and specialist therapists.
And lastly, Elise Blondin-Andreacchio’s was the recipient of the Parent/Carer of the Year Award.
Nominated by her son, with a statement that seemed to sum up the spirit of the awards - “My mother has shown me autism doesn’t define life. It’s a superpower. She says just because you are diagnosed with autism doesn’t mean you can’t achieve things in life.”
Read more about the recipients and nominees.