My name is Diana. I’m a little bit of a “Jill of all trades”. Right now I am a student, research assistant, private tutor, disability support worker, designer, and programmer.
In the early 2000’s I began this amazing journey studying Psychology and Computer Science at the University of Sydney. I then spent the next phase of my life raising two totally unique and wonderful children, who happen to be Autistic, while working on the side. In between motherhood and work, I returned to my psychology studies first through the Australian College of Applied Psychology, where I managed to add another bundle of joy into our lives, and now through Central Queensland University.
I’m a big supporter of distance and continued education, growing through life’s ups and downs, and learning to laugh at the little things.
Where I've Been
One of the great things about life is that the path you think you’re taking is often not the one you end up on. Every twist and turn is an opportunity to grow and learn and I sure have done my fair share of that over the years. And while from the outside my journey is coming full circle it would be foolish to ignore just how far that journey has been.
After University (the first time) I did what many do and picked up temp work, admin jobs and data entry. You see I had horribly underestimated just how competitive and hard it is to get your foot thought the door. I naively believed the predominant wisdom of “study hard, work hard, get a degree, and everything will be fine”. Well I worked hard, I studied ….. enough, and got my degree. While I enjoyed my Computer Science subjects my heart was set on Psychology so I majored in that.
So began a lot of harsh but necessary lessons in life. See P’s get degrees but Psychology sets a far higher standard than that. Finding out you fall short of a bar you didn’t know you were aiming for due to your naivety is a rude shock. To add insult to injury I was so complaint and passive I didn’t even think to ask what else I could do, learn, be in order to make my dreams realities. Thankfully I did learn some very useful skills thanks to the Computer Science department, skills that I was able to put into practice. Those skills help me to this day.
It would take 9 years and 6 months from the completion of my first degree for me to return to my primary goal. In that time I picked up web design and graphics work, freelance consulting and programing jobs, and learned how to set up and run small businesses.
See somehow, one of my twists and turns was the creation of 2smock with my Mother (Dr Diane Spencer-Scarr). At that point she was studying and I was wanting a challenge and we worked together to bring one of her idea of an easy to use smocking kit into being. Just FYI smocking is an embroidery technique done across gathered pleats. 2smock taught me so much, from manufacturing and production issues through to customer relations. It was a hard decision to let 2smock go but sometimes in order to let new things in, you have to let go.
During this time I became a Mother and in order to meet the needs of my children I became a WAHM, juggling 2smock and freelance work. It was during this time that came to understand that we had been blessed with two amazing kids with Autism. I finally found a use for my degree and entered into the dual role of mother/early intervention therapist. We didn’t have resources for outsourcing therapies or bringing in specialists. What we did have was two dedicated and loving parents who were willing to find out what works for their own children. With the support of my husband I became the master of on the fly problem solving. I learned whatever I could to help get to know my children. I focused on those things that made sense to me. Some things worked, some didn’t, and somehow life progressed.
9 years and 6 months after I graduated I finally started asking questions. I found out there was a way to get back on track, it would be long and hard and I would need to take it one or two subjects at a time but I could do it. And that’s how I got to this point.
Where I'm Going
With the completion of my Graduate Diploma of Psychological Sciences I was finally able to begin my Honours year. Unfortunately I very much still needed to do distance education as we now had a new member of the family who still needed their Mum. Thankfully I found Central Queensland Universities program that allowed me to keep juggling all these moving parts. Paired with a wonderful supervisor and supported by engaged and knowledgeable lecturers I am absolutely loving this new phase of life.
When it came time to select my research thesis topic I knew that I wanted, needed, to do something to help add new information to the Autism discussion. I still clearly remember being informed that my child would never be able to actually love me by a maternal health nurse in the first week of his diagnosis. For what its worth he is a loving and wonderfully empathetic child and so much more than meets the eyes. However I know first hand how these old outdated ideas linger and affect families raising Autistic children.
As for the future, there are several paths ahead. Recent changes to the way in which psychologists are registered in Australia make a Clinical Masters a new hurdle requirement in order to practice directly with clients. It also turns out I enjoy research immensely and would love to pursue a PhD. So which ever way this unfolds I can see that by 80 I will have meandered down both paths. Ive become rather realistic in my goal setting.