AUSTRALIA DAY: Voice in the wilderness finally heard

Carol Grigg has been honoured for helping carers of those with Asperger syndrome. Picture: CORRYONG COURIER

Carol Grigg has been honoured for helping carers of those with Asperger syndrome. Picture: CORRYONG COURIER

A SELF-described “voice in the wilderness” for Asperger syndrome, Carol Grigg thought her work went unnoticed in the wider community.

Not any more, after the Corryong resident was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her work helping families affected by the syndrome.

Ms Grigg founded Asperger Syndrome Partner Information Australia.

She also wrote the handbook after her husband was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome.

The illness is an autism spectrum disorder that differs wildly in terms of severity from case to case.

“I was married to a man who was eventually diagnosed with Aspergers and it was quite a difficult time because we didn’t know what to do,” Ms Grigg said.

“It sometimes felt like I was flying in the dark and didn’t know who to turn to for support.

“I’d try to ask people but they wouldn’t know what to say because they didn’t know what it’s like.”

Ms Grigg helped establish Asperger Syndrome Partner Information Australia in 2003 with the aim of supporting people whose partners were diagnosed with the syndrome.

“We also get family members wanting to know what they can do, but the initial aim was to really help the partners.”

Despite doing so much work helping others, Ms Grigg never contemplated that she would ever receive an award like the OAM.

“I’m usually a very quiet person and don’t really like the spotlight,” Ms Grigg said.

“But this is life-changing and very humbling.

“It’s actually quite comforting, as well, and really validates that we’re doing good work.

“A lot of the work we do is with a very small part of the community, so I wasn’t sure many people were aware of what we do.

“Sometimes it feels like I’m the lone voice crying out in the wilderness, so this award is extremely rewarding.”

Ms Grigg said the group offered the support she wished she had had.

“ASPIA tries to support those partners who may be feeling confused and unsure of what to do,” she said.

“ASPIA provides a lot of meaning to my life, and I’m happy knowing that we offer the support that a lot of people need.”

Mr Grigg is also a counsellor at the Upper Murray Health and Community Services at Corryong, and talks about her experiences as a guest speaker.