Humans on the Autism Spectrum - AJ

Humans on the Autism Spectrum – AJ, 14

I am AJ and I am 14 years old. I like public transport (buses, trains and trams), learning about the environment, and coming up with ways to stop bullying.

Autism is a different operating system and Autistic people process things differently. Autism helps me with my memory. I can remember things really well. I can remember all types of buses and where they go. I started getting into buses when I moved to Albury Wodonga. I am fascinated by buses and bus routes because the branding of buses is so unique. Dysons bus service in Wodonga allows me to visit their depot frequently and the drivers also know me very well. I’ve been helping my sister Cassie, who is 11, take the bus home. Cassie and I are the only ones in our family who catch buses.

What makes a good bus system is whether everyone can access the network. People don’t catch buses when a system is not properly organised, including when buses are not frequent enough or when there is congestion. Currently, only three quarters of the people in Albury Wodonga can access the bus network. I want to see this level increase to include everyone. I have talked to Dysons’ drivers about creating a new bus route. I even made them a map of what a new bus network could look like. The drivers were impressed. I am going to share it with the company once I finish the network map. I will show it to Martin’s (bus company) as well. So far I have finished the first stage of the network and I am almost up to the second stage.

Humans on the Autism Spectrum - AJ

I’ve actually been in the newspaper, which got everyone in my community excited about my bus network. It could help build up the population of Albury Wodonga even more because of jobs created. I have lots of people cheering me on because I’m unique. My strengths include remembering stuff really well, friendliness, good manners and problem solving when it comes to stopping negative behaviour. Recently there was a severe bully who was nasty to multiple students, and I was one of his targets. I came up with a 5-step strategy to deal with future offenders, with repeat offenders starting from step 2 onwards.

When people say negative things about Autism, it can really hurt and offend someone. It’s important to choose words carefully.  Programs like I CAN Network were made to help people. I like being a part of the I CAN Network because I’ve met new people and have learnt new things. What I’d like to say to younger Autistic kids is: “You are not alone. You can do anything regardless of who you are and you can help make changes to our world.” A world that embraces Autism would be like a pizza with a good mix of toppings (people fully included in the group). Everyone can be different, not just those with Autism, and that’s a great thing!

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