We are delighted to introduce Altogether Autism’s newest member of the Consumer Reference Group. DANIEL SMITH is a hard-working father and partner. Altogether Autism researcher TEGAN ANDREWS talks with Daniel and his partner Rebecca to ﬁnd out more about him and his experience with autism.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a father to ﬁve children and live with my partner and her three children in Te Aroha. We enjoy being a family and our best times are spent together. We support and encourage each other to be the best that we can be and to help others where we can.
What is your relationship with autism?
I am on the autism spectrum and four of my ﬁve children are also diagnosed on the spectrum. My partner has two children in her care diagnosed on the spectrum.
What sorts of things do you do and enjoy doing?
I am a technical specialist in Immunohistochemistry for Waikato DHB and work full-time. Outside of work I enjoy time with my family, and like gaming (computers/consoles and board) with them, ﬁlms (cinema and home), and science ﬁction (especially Star Wars).
How did you ﬁrst hear about Altogether Autism?
I ﬁrst heard of Altogether Autism when my children were assessed by the Child Development Centre at Waikato Hospital. I became more involved with Altogether Autism when I was assessed as an adult by Tanya Breen (I was diagnosed in the UK as a child, but never told), and was then asked to present at the Altogether Autism Conference last year.
What prompted you to join our Consumer Reference Group?
With six children in the household on the spectrum, I wanted
to do more to advocate for them and, after discussing with several people, found that I could be of help to others by my lived experience.
Are you involved in the autism community in other ways?
I have started a Facebook page called Autie/Aspie Waikato where I’m hoping to bring the autism community in the Waikato together for different events and get to know each other. I’ve had the privilege of working with the Waikato Museum to help with its Autism Awareness Day opening, and have been asked to present at different meetings on autism.
What Rebecca had to say:
Daniel and I have been together for nearly four years. He’s a quiet, honest, very humble, empathetic and trustworthy man who absolutely loves his kids. Family is very important. Daniel will always go above and beyond to help out people who are in need, be it strangers or people he knows. His mind and ideas and ability to think outside of the square are amazing – there’s never a dull moment and he can always make me laugh with his keen sense of humour.
He’s taught me so many things – one being that anything is possible. He has a drive to make sure things are done right, which has been an amazing asset when it’s come to handling issues within work at times, and also the kids’ needs at school, where he’s needed to advocate to make sure their needs are met. This has meant meetings with multiple people and organisations at times. As Daniel has already stated, both he and I have kids on the spectrum and his knowledge and experience with autism has been invaluable. He is not afraid to voice his opinions when he needs to. I believe that he will be a valuable person to have on your team.
We think so too! Welcome to the team Daniel.
Altogether Autism has two reference groups we call on for their expertise regarding our more complex requests. Our Consumer Reference Group is made up of people with autism, and parents and caregivers of people of all ages on the spectrum. Each member can provide input from their valuable ﬁrst-hand knowledge and experience with autism. Our Professional Expert Group is our other reference group, made up of professionals from a range of disciplines and occupations including psychologists, occupational therapists, lawyers, paediatricians, speech and language therapists, and our very own in-house researchers.
This article originally appeared in the Altogether Autism Journal, Issue 2, 2016.