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Meet Dr Education

Graduate creates change through crucial autism research

If you can help just one person through the work that you do, it will all be worthwhile.

That phrase has led Karen Glasby through the last seven years of part-time study, finally crossing the stage at a University of Southern Queensland graduation ceremony with a Doctor of Education yesterday (December 13).

Her thesis, which specialised in educational transitions for young autistic adults, was inspired by her own family’s story.

"My son Caleb was diagnosed with autism when he was three,” Dr Glasby said.

“His life has been like many other young autistic people’s experience – he goes ahead in leaps and bounds, making huge progress, and then finds areas of struggle, particularly transitions.”

Dr Glasby said it was at the time of moving through the education system with her son that a Education Doctorate position opened at the University of Southern Queensland.

“It was this serendipitous moment that what we were going through as a family became the topic of my doctoral research,” she said.

“I saw it as a real chance to learn more from young autistic adults themselves about what was working and what wasn’t, because I wanted to give schools something they could do more of to improve the quality of life for our young people.

“I could work out how to make a difference for all those people who were going through the same journey that our family experienced.”

Along with Dr Kay Ayre from Edith Cowan University, Professor Patrick Danaher, who supervised Dr Glasby through her Doctor of Education, said she worked extremely hard throughout significant challenges, surmounting all of them.

“Dr Glasby has made such a difference in the lives of so many young people with autism, but also those in policy-making positions,” Professor Danaher said.

“This is such a complex area, and collectively as a nation and internationally we have not done well by young people with autism and their families, so her thesis is a significant way to correct that oversight.

“This is crucial work to ensure those with autism and their families have quality of life in ways that are important to them.

“Karen has given them huge respect and highlighted their dignity and grace.”

Dedicating her work to her family and the families that will inevitably walk in her footsteps, Dr Glasby has undoubtedly ensured that she hasn’t just helped one person but future generations to come.

“It’s about giving a voice to people who have not always had a say in our society, so it’s just been incredibly important to me that this research has been shared,” she said.

“I’m so proud to graduate and to represent the young people in this research. They are an important part of this journey and without them I couldn’t have done it.”

Learn more about studying the Doctor of Education at the University of Southern Queensland.

Karen is one of hundreds of University of Southern Queensland graduates who are crossing the stage for the December graduations ceremonies this week, with today marking the second day at the Empire Theatre.

Woman at Empire Theatre.
Dr Karen Glasby has graduated from the University of Southern Queensland with a Doctor of Education at this week’s December Graduation Ceremonies.