Pair are leaders for autism

Daniel Giles

Daniel Giles

BENDIGO residents Daniel Giles and Rebecca Kelly were two of about 40 international and national speakers at the Victorian Autism Conference in Melbourne this week.

At Etihad Stadium from August 6 to 8, the conference allowed the pair to share their direct experiences of autism spectrum.

"I talked about my journey from special education to completing an honour's degree at university," Mr Giles said.

"Beck spoke about being a parent of a child on the autism spectrum."

He said he had enjoyed the meeting others at the conference, as well as the chance to ask a thing or two from the other presenters.

"I asked a question about the possibility of pre-natal testing of autism in future, and was pleased to hear it’s unlikely to happen.

"I want to see people with autism and other disabilities being given the opportunity to live.

"Everyone has the potential to make a valued contribution to society.

"I believe strongly in the focus being not on deficit of disorder but rather celebrating the gift of autism  - my message is autism is awesome."

He said the biggest highlight was seeing the autism community represented more and given more of a voice in presenting.

He said the pair were the only two presenters from regional Australia at the conference.

"We believe we’re the only speakers from regional Australia at the conference," Mr Giles said.

A VAC spokesperson said Bendigo was becoming something of a lead centre for autism in regional areas, thanks in a big part to the work of Mr Giles and Ms Kelly.

"Daniel is a future leader in the autism community and is one of 24 selected to be a public advocate across Victoria," the spokesperson said.

"Rebecca is a real powerhouse also. Together they’re both leaders for autism in regional Australia.

"It's wonderful to see Bendigo coming to the fore of leadership for autism in regional Australia."


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