News

‘Aspie’ wants a world we all fit in

UNACCEPTANCE IS UNACCEPTABLE: Mathew Townsend was thrilled to have made a presentation at the Autism in Education National Conference in Sydney in August which was attended by 450 delegates.
UNACCEPTANCE IS UNACCEPTABLE: Mathew Townsend was thrilled to have made a presentation at the Autism in Education National Conference in Sydney in August which was attended by 450 delegates. Marc Stapelberg

LIKE any other intelligent young man, Mathew Townsend has dreams of making a career for himself, and one day getting married and having kids.

He holds a degree in environmental science and will next year move from Ballina to Brisbane to do a Masters of Environmental Management at the University of Queensland.

But a career in sustainability and a family is only half of Mr Townsend's story.

At 12, he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, now classed as a mild form of autism, and has been hearing impaired since he was 18-months-old.

Much of his life has - and will continue to be - about advocating for better mainstream understanding and acceptance of people with forms of autism.

Towards this goal, he recently spoke publicly about life as an 'Aspie' at the inaugural Autism in Education National Conference run by national autism services group ASPECT.

He also writes about his life with autism on his blog, Aspie's World.

"I would like to see our society learn about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (and hearing loss) so we all wouldn't have problems fitting in," he said.

"I would like to see employers, communities and organisations help people with ASD to get involved in the same way as able-bodied people."

Mr Townsend has continued to experience prejudice - an added burden to a life already more challenging than the norm.

"Lots of people always define me (by my) disability because I have hearing aids on, and show a lack of communication and social skills," he said.

"Unfortunately, many people react to this badly."

He plans to speak again at next year's autism conference.

"I hope to build understanding and a respectful relationship between people with autism and non-autism by learning our values, interests and ways of communicating."

Topics:  autism, autism spectrum disorder




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'All I heard when my baby cried was ‘you’re a terrible mum'

APN Hey Mummy Feature for online - stock images of Katie Dykes. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

KATIE'S battle with PND is not unlike many mothers.

'I just thought all mums got no sleep'

MELTOPIA battled PND with all four of her children.

4 survival tips for mummas heading back to work

The few reminders every working mum needs to read.

Health and nutrition with kids - how do you balance it?

HOW important is health and nutrition in your household?

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Technology and kids: Do you ever cut their wi-fi?

Check out our new video series featuring mums having a chat

Man taken to hospital after crash in Goonellabah

Ambulance: Operations commander car.
Photo: Rob Wright/The Coffs Coast Advocate.

Man taken to hospital in stable condition after crash in Goonellabah

Richmond electorate: Meet the candidates

Justine Elliot is the Labor candidate for Richmond.

Meet the candidates for the federal seat of Richmond

Vale Jeff Walsh, a heavy hitter on and off the field

JEFF WALSH

Jeff Walsh died recently after a long battle with MND

Latest deals and offers

Preview of $10 million Lismore office block

Bennett Construction director Darryl Piper discusses work on the new four-storey...

Hey Mumma - Working mums vs fulltime mums

Working mums vs full time mums

Hey Mumma - Working mums vs fulltime mums

Clive Palmer to re-open refinery

Clive Palmer on ABC radio.

Clive Palmer talks about his achievements, election chances and re-opening the...

PROPERTY BOOM: Coast prices set to skyrocket

Like other areas in south-east Queensland, the Sunshine Coast is at the start of the upturn on the property clock.

Values predicted to rise 25-33%

DIY: How to build a backyard fire pit

DIY stars and Weekend magazine columnists Ayden and Jess Hogan.

Would you build this for your backyard?