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



Horror crash: Unregistered car had no seats or seatbelts

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was tasked to a crash at Woodenbong last night. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

UPDATE: Five family members have been hurt in car crash

Kids threw 'sand missiles' at cars for two hours

An Evans Head resident said he watched this roundabout for two hours as teens pelted 'sand missiles' at cars.

Local man has culprits on footage and threatens to contact police

PHOTOS: Firies battle North Coast bushfire

NSW Fire and Rescue crews at the scene of a bushfire at East Ballina.

NSW Fire and Rescue crews are fighting a bushfire at Ballina

Local Partners

Channel 9 orders second season of Doctor Doctor

Rodger Corser stars in the TV series Doctor Doctor.

RURAL medical drama finds a loyal following.

Katy Perry gets naked to encourage people to vote

Katy Perry in Funny Or Die sketch

Katy Perry has stripped naked for a comedy video

Jogging Tom Hanks crashes wedding in Central Park

Tom Hanks stopped for a selfie with this bride and groom

MOVIE REVIEW: Storks delivers family fun

A scene from the movie Storks.

ANIMATION can be hit or miss but when it hits, it hits hard.

Nick 'the snake' to call the shots on Survivor jury

Australian Survivor contestant Nick Iadanza.

LATEST evictee is out of the game but will still have a say.

Buyers forking out millions

Owners benefiting from undersupplied Northern Rivers market

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

New $33 million development planned for Ballina Shire

The site of a proposed seniors living development at Skennars Head.

Plans include 211 homes, clubhouse and recreational facilities

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction