Most people I meet are shocked to learn I have autism

By Luisa Bustos, 17 September 2016 , Comments

Ever since he was a child, Michael, who has autism, has been passionate about gardening and photography.

With Northcott’s support, the 22-year-old has followed his passions, landing a job in the nursery department at Bunnings and honing his photography skills in his spare time.

“I’ve been into photography, since I was a little kid. I was given a camera and then I just never put it down. It’s turned into a hobby for me. When you take pictures, you are in that moment. When you look back at photos, they are timeless. It’s an ever-lasting memory.”

“I like putting my photography with music. At the moment, I’m into timeline films but I’m really more of a horror hound, so my mum is waiting for the day when I’ll make a splatter film.”

While he’s happy to take photos of special occasions with his family, Michael has no desire at this stage to pursue photography for work. He is happy working full-time at Bunnings where he can fulfil his passion for gardening.

“I enjoy working with the great people and their great enthusiasm. I’ve done a lot of personal growth just working there. The most shocking part is most people don’t even know I have autism. When I mention it, they just want to fall to the ground because they don’t really see it.”

Michael credits Northcott’s Transition to Work program, and his high school teacher, Maureen Coyle, who suggested Northcott to him, for his newfound confidence and social skills.

“Back in high school, I was what you would call the classic wallflower. There was a big wall blocking me from all other opportunities. I didn’t have the courage to speak out to other people and I didn’t know how I was going to fit in.”

“With Northcott’s support, I’m now outgoing with other people. I’ve grown up and have more confidence. Sometimes I think…‘Am I really that person who would sit back at school all the time’?

“I’m still breaking down an invisible wall, but thanks to Northcott I’m now more outgoing and enjoy being out there doing things I love.”

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