Strategies for putting Square Pegs in Round Holes – PT2

Why is this important to me? Although I don’t like to write about my family, those who know me know how important family is to me. My biological family, my Guiding family, my SpringDale family, my Community family, and now my newest Club family are all important to me.

I love learning from all my family members and the wider community. Usually you spend more time with family (especially the way I have just defined my wide range of family) and I have learned so much from my son, Stirling. Stirling did do things at the same times that other children usually do until about 18 months, when one evening it was like the life drained out of him – I believed he’d heard himself mimicking my words as I was brushing his teeth prior to bed. I can still see us standing in front of the mirror.

As a mum of two other children and as an older mum, I didn’t panic, I decided he would come back when he was ready and maybe able to speak properly. This may not have been correct but my intuition decided I was right.

Every day I looked for signs and people gave me advice and I stayed calm. Ken, my husband started to spend intensive time with Stirling reinforcing names Daddy – Stirling, Daddy – Stirling, which seemed interesting to us watching on. Stirling didn’t seem so interested.

Stirling came back to me one day, he gave me a big sloppy kiss, which I dramatically wiped off saying yuck! I watched his face light up! He was back! Daily we worked on a single practical word and he has grown into the 20 year old amazing young man that he is today.

When I need help, Stirling is first to volunteer he says things like that would be an honour.

Stirling was diagnosed as being on the Autism Spectrum when he was 4 years old, he attended Clifton Springs kinder for two years, Drysdale Primary School, Nelson Park and is now doing a Certificate 1 in Work Education.

This may explain why we have offered a number of Autism sessions over the years and why SpringDale is an Autism friendly place.

We want to build on our interest and success in this area to help the community understand autism a little more. We want to map the strengths of people on the autism spectrum and try to match strengths with potential job opportunities.

Stirling has so many skills and strengths and he has taught me so much. When we were delivering phone books last year – he was my white knight helping for hours and hours. When we needed to find a way to cheaply dispose of branches from the SpringDale Occasional Care yard – Stirling cut the branches for 3 months – filling our green bin and working his way through a huge pile that might have overwhelmed many people.

We would love to meet people on the autism spectrum who might like to help us. We would love to hear from people who might like to learn more about autism. We would love to hear from employers who might like to give someone different a go.

Through this project we are hoping to make a difference in many lives and I’m hoping to share some of my knowledge gained intensively over the last 20 years but also to learn a lot.

Yours sincerely, Anne Brackley, mother, Coordinator, Trainer, Autism Advocate and more.

You might be interested to see that Stirling is almost the hero of the book I wrote many years ago – when I was very involved in the Bunyip festival – Have you seen the Bunyip lately? The book is still available from SpringDale and all money for the book goes to support SpringDale connection projects. $10 just in case you wanted to know the price.

[Messenger August 2017 p.18]

For more information please contact Anne Brackley:
email or
phone 0407 529 205 – I’d love to hear from you.

Strategies for putting Square Pegs in Round Holes – PT1

Strategies for putting Square pegs in Round Holes is the name of our project for this year. The concept of this project is to draw on our many years of collective experience working with people on the autism spectrum to to solve Community non-acceptance of people on the Autism Spectrum by gaining more knowledge, understanding and acceptance of the positive skills that people on the autism spectrum have, will help to enable people on the Autism Spectrum to gain acceptance and employment opportunities. Our community will be stronger with all people being accepted.

We will use Asset Based Community Development techniques which we employ consistently across the organisation. SpringDale has become a safe haven for people on the spectrum. This project will give us the opportunity to analyse their collective strengths and collective opportunities. We will encourage strategic partnerships with other program providers and initiatives that improve participation and attainment for the priority cohort groups.

Issues to be addressed are the ability for people on the autism spectrum to be well prepared for, be able to gain and keep employment. This was highlighted in the City of Greater Geelong project “I could get a job if …”, where a high priority for responders on the Bellarine Peninsula was for greater awareness and understanding of people on the Autism Spectrum. We will also use learning from studying issues faced by people on the austism spectrum to understand if the learnings are transferable for unemployed and underemployed people.

We are looking for people who would like to help us with this project. We are especially looking for people on the Autism Spectrum who would like to look at the project and if comfortable, help us by participating in the project over the next 12 months.

[Messenger July 2017 p.8]

For more information please contact Anne Brackley:
email or
phone 0407 529 205 – I’d love to hear from you.