‘Autism doesn’t have to hold you back’: Christina’s awareness day mission

West Moreton Health’s Christina Nipperess-Sims is a woman on a mission this World Autism Awareness Day.

Diagnosed with autism as an adult, the clinical audiology lead is determined to help shed light on the disorder through today's awareness day.

“There are many people in our community who are autistic and that includes me,” she said.Christina Nipperess-Sims

“I intentionally use the wording autistic as it is a part of what makes me, not a deficiency.

“However, there continues to be quite a lot of stigma and negativity around the concept of autism.

“In my clinical role, I see a lot of young children during the diagnostic process and will often see parents and caregivers who are understandably overwhelmed by the perceived negatives that a diagnosis of autism generally brings.

“But some of these children show examples of exceptional ability in some areas that are superior to their age peers, which are unfortunately usually overshadowed by their difficulties.”

Ms Nipperess-Sims said there were “very few public examples of how autistic individuals can be successful”.

An Australian Parliamentary report undertaken in 2019 showed 40 per cent of respondents did not believe an autistic person could be in a professional role, such as a doctor, and that 20 per cent would be very concerned if an autistic person was their boss.

“The unemployment rate for autistic people is 31 per cent, which is three times the rate of unemployment for people with other disabilities and almost six times the rate of people without disabilities,” she said.

“I want people to know that autism doesn’t have to hold you back.

“The theme for this year’s World Autism Awareness Day is ‘Moving from surviving to thriving’ and a part of being able to thrive is being visible and accepted.

“I’ve been able to secure a clinical leadership role, am a lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland and a national hockey umpire.

“Autism can in fact be the reason for success, not an obstacle that needs to be overcome.”