Daisy proves autism doesn't hold her back from education goals

07 September 2022

When other tertiary providers weren't the right fit for Daisy Brown' the teenager turned to CQUniveristy to help pursue her dream of becoming a vet nurse.

Daisy' who was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in primary school' is excelling in her Certificate II in Animal Studies thanks to the flexible study options and support provided by CQU.

Her mother' Gillian Brown credited the university for the positive impact on Daisy's academic progress and career development.

"Other providers had such a long waiting list for animal studies. They also required one day a week on-site which was not possible.

"We searched for an alternative and found CQU with the main attraction that it was all online'" Gillian said.

"Daisy was diagnosed with dyspraxia/developmental coordination disorder and sensory processing disorder soon in Kindergarten.

"She was further diagnosed in primary school with her autism (level two severity)' speech and language disability' and separation and generalised anxiety disorder. This makes it very traumatic for Daisy to leave the house."

Gillian said that while Daisy's anxiety initially made her very nervous to start studying' this subsided through ongoing collaboration with animal studies teachers Jenn and Crystal.

"I wouldn't say Autism has held Daisy back per se' but it has been extremely difficult as we need to find alternative pathways due to her literacy' communication and anxiety.

"People have told Daisy that she will never achieve her goals - but she is so determined and has continued to put one foot in front of the other'" she said.

"We were very fortunate to find the encouragement we have at CQU - from our first phone call we found the staff to be friendly and well equipped to answer all enquiries.

"Her teachers have gone above and beyond' even offering private tutorials which have helped Daisy's confidence."

Given her undeniable love for animals' Gillian said the animal studies program was an ideal pathway for Daisy to work in an industry she is passionate about.

"The most important thing is to find your passion and we quickly found Daisy has a natural connection with animals.

"Animals were used in Daisy's early therapy' including horses and dogs. At home' she has a retired service dog Sascha and two other fox terriers named Dixie and Boycee.

"Even as a newborn' Daisy avoided all physical contact and as she grew rarely talked outside the home. Equine therapy has given her the amazing gift of using her voice outside the house.

"Through horses' she found equestrian and even competed in the Special Olympics at nationals."

Gillian said it has been amazing to watch Daisy's progress over the past year since being in an environment where she can thrive.

"Nothing has ever been too difficult for her CQU teachers. They are always able to accommodate and help her succeed.

"A highlight was when the staff liaised with Daisy's vet placement and suggested a traineeship. What was at first work experience has led to employment'" she explained.

"Daisy's idol is Professor Temple Grandin' a prominent author and speaker on both autism and animal behaviour.

"Daisy lives by Professor Grandin's motto 'Different not Less' and with this in mind is now well on her way to her dream of becoming a vet nurse."