Surviving 14 years on three-hours of broken sleep per night, Ella Azura Pardy, 31, signed up to numerous sporting activities in an effort to sleep better at night. Overcoming many obstacles, such as acute sound sensitivity, coordination, motor planning and anxiety, her drive and commitment 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 to broaden people’s understanding of autism and support those on the autism spectrum, Pardy was recognised as an award recipient at the 16th annual Aspect Recognition Awards Ceremony held in Sydney last night.
The 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 use their passions and talents to support others and often fill a needed gap in services.
“This year’s award recipients and nominees show us the possibilities of community, determination and support,” states Jacqui Borland Aspect CEO. “They are incredible role models for others supporting thousands Autistic people and demonstrating the importance of inclusion through their talents - both here in Australia and overseas.”
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 being awarded the Autism Friendly Achievement Award as the first and only NRL Club to establish a Quiet Room, providing inclusive access for people on the autism spectrum and their families to their games.
And two Autistic parents, Sarah Nelson and Kylie Cox, established The Experience Collectors for hundreds of Autistic youth and their families to enjoy outdoor activities in a safe and inclusive environment.
Both Professor Joesphine Barbaro and Annie Lane were recognised for their support of children on the autism spectrum. For over 17 years, Professor Barbaro has been developing and refining a Social Attention and Communication Surveillance method to detect autism in infants and toddlers. This work has led to real positive change for children and families, who have been able to access early supports and services to improve development outcomes and increase school participation. She was awarded the ARCAP Research Award.
Lane started The Whole Self Independent Life Learning providing support to Autistic teens struggling to fit in mainstream schooling with access to support works, teachers and specialist therapists.
Lastly, Elise Blondin-Andreacchio’s was the recipient of the Parent/Carer of the Year. Understanding the purpose of the Recognition Awards, Elise’s son summed it up in his heart-felt nomination. “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. Finishing Year 10 and going into Year 11 had made me feel proud and better about myself because of the hope my mum has for me.”