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“My autism journey began when I was diagnosed at 12 years of age by Autism SA, known back then as the Autistic Children’s Association of SA. I don’t have that many memories of primary school except for my year seven graduation, but my memories at high school are a lot better. During my time at high school I was a member of the Student Representative Council (SRC) from Year 9 through to Year 12, becoming SRC president and a member of the Prefects in 1999. I was voted by the students in both and it was important that I was recognised for who I was and my strengths.

Year 12 schoolwork aside, my last year of high school was highlighted by heartbreak, challenges and changes that became so overwhelming, but still I managed to graduate from high school. At the end I was offered a year off from study or [the option to] head into tertiary education. I decided to choose the latter and studied Business Administration at TAFE for 18 months, getting my Certificate IV in 2001.

I have a few achievements in my life, one of them is securing employment with Autism SA after applying for over 100 jobs without success. I started out as a volunteer at Autism SA in 2003, joining as a casual employee in 2004 and then becoming part time in 2005. I worked in Community Relations when I started and now work as an Administration Officer in Organisational Support.

My greatest achievement, however, is football umpiring. I became a field umpire in the now defunct North Eastern Metro Football Association in 2006 and was recognised with life membership of the Association in 2016. I make a good football umpire because I have a loud voice and a loud whistle. Shortly after, the Association folded and joined the SANFL Juniors where I continue to umpire junior football to this day, effectively making me the last umpire in the Association to receive life membership.

Inclusion is about giving everyone a fair go, and as a football umpire I have officiated in inclusive football games run by SANFL which features players with a disability who love to play the game. Inclusion means everything and can make a difference to anyone, whether on the autism spectrum or any other disability.”