Site navigation

Change font size: SmallerLargerReload

follow us   facebook icon: Clicking on this is going to open the Graeme Innes' facebook page in a new window twitter icon: Clicking on this is going to open the Graeme Innes' twitter page in a new window youtube icon: Clicking on this is going to AHRC's YouTube page in a new window flickr icon: Clicking on this is going to open AHRC's flickr page in a new window something in common icon: Clicking on this is going to open the Something in Common website in a new window

Video Transcript

Back to video

Reaching Out

-Duck-duck-duck-duck-duck-duck. -Duck!

NARRATOR: Having a family was a dream come true for Bec and Dennis Kelly.

Audrey, the eldest, met every milestone early.

She was walking by 10 months, talking articulately at one year, and by the time she was 18 months old, she could name every dinosaur that walked the earth, what time period they were from and whether they were herbivores or carnivores.

Audrey was healthy, intelligent and interacting with others.

Rebecca and Dennis didn't think they had anything to worry about until Audrey's pre-kindergarten teacher, Sara Fletcher, told Rebecca she thought three-and-a-half-year-old Audrey had a condition that has no cure.

So Audrey's kinder teacher called me into the kinder one day and told me she would like to speak to Dennis and I after class in regards to Audrey.

And to this day, I don't know why I said what I said to her, but I looked at her and said,

"Why, are you going to tell me that my daughter has autism?"

Half expecting her to look at me and say, "Don't be stupid."

But she gave me a look that pretty much said, "How do you know?"

And my heart sank, and I think for about a week after that, I just lost it.

Upon reflection, Bec and Dennis can see the symptoms.

Even though they were mild, they were there.

Audrey never really smiled.

When she began walking, she was always on her tippy-toes.

And she never liked to be held, always seeming to prefer to be held facing out, rather than snuggling in to cuddle them.

As we were on the journey through the assessment and diagnostic process with Audrey,

I felt a lot of grief.

I call it the grief process that I went through and my husband went through.

I didn't want to talk to anyone about it.

I sort of shut myself away and realised I was doing no good to her or to anybody else.

So I decided, "OK, let's just get into everything autism."

And I read every book and went to every seminar, and it was during that time that I went along to a Human Rights Commission seminar that they were holding in regards to education and the DDA.

And I was really surprised that there was not a lot of knowledge from the families that attended that seminar in regards to their kids' rights.

And I walked out of there thinking,

"How can I do something to change...this?

"How can I get the information out there that parents need?

"I'm just a mum."

Within a year of Audrey's autism diagnosis, she started early intervention at Noah's Ark.

Sarah Miller was appointed Audrey's EI worker and has been working with Audrey since February 2012, working on a range of exercises, from speech and sensory activities, to teach Audrey what comes naturally for most typically developing children.

The more Rebecca and Dennis learned, the more they thought their son Patrick might also be on the spectrum.

After Audrey's diagnosis, we started looking at our son Patrick a lot more closely.

He was already showing a lot of the symptoms of being on the autism spectrum.

He would line things up, he had an obsession with trains and he was constantly spinning.

When he was a baby, he would spin around on his bottom, and then that sort of grew, after he started walking, to spinning on the spot.

And he had very limited speech, and the speech he did have, he lost at 18 months.

Taking care of their family was number one priority.

But for Bec, community awareness came in a close second.

Hi. Welcome to Real People ASD Talk.

You're in the studio with Bec and Sarah.

Real People ASD Talk is broadcast live every Saturday between 10am and 11am.

It's a chance for ASD families, carers and professionals to tell their stories and be heard.

So I had this crazy idea to bring information to the masses, and the radio station picked up my proposal for an autism radio program.

And I went with it, and, do you know, I have to say,

it's been an amazing journey.

And I think, you know, informing people is such an important thing.

Information sharing with parents who have autistic children is so important, and...

Because it's what you're not told that you need to know.

Joining Bec on the journey into the airwaves is Sarah Hansford.

Sarah is a mother to three children, two who are on the autism spectrum.

I mean, I know that if, yeah,

if it wasn't me doing this, that... know, I'd still be at home listening to it, because I need to know.

I need to know these things.

And we always will live it, so it's part of who we are.

So, what's next for Bec, Dennis, Audrey and Patrick?

I'm not stopping with the radio show.

I have plans to establish Australia's first whole-of-life autism centre here in Bendigo.

And, you know, I see a really bright future for parents and carers who have children with disabilities in this country.

With the DDA behind them, it's, you know, a great thing.

And it's a very inspiring thing, and I hope more parents can actually look at it more closely and realise that they actually do have rights.