I am 17 and proudly Autistic. I am in Year 12 and have my own business with three employees. My passion is motorsports, and I can remember all the results from every race in the past ten years. This year is very busy with school, work, friends and my Year 12 formal coming up.
Things haven’t always been this good. I was targeted by bullies, I had trouble finding a job and I didn’t feel proud about being Autistic.
After going to an I CAN camp last year, positive things really started happening. The I CAN camp opened my eyes about Autism and it was where I found my tribe. It was nice meeting so many people like me and learning from mentors like Chris, Daniel and others. I CAN camp helped me embrace being Autistic rather than seeing it as something negative. I now choose to be very open about who I am.
I have a lot of strengths. My mum calls me “Google Maps” because I can remember every single place I’ve been. I have a great personal I CAN Network around me, including my friends, my girlfriend and my family.
I don’t think that society is truly inclusive yet, and I am starting to speak up about this more and more. When I was looking for after-school work, no one would hire me. They actually did me a favour, though, because I am now self-employed and preparing for world domination! My business, Clay’s Bin Cleaning, has so many customers that I’ve had to add more employees.
Over the past year, my business has attracted a lot of attention in the media. It’s pretty amazing being in the news, and I feel a bit like a famous person. I really hope that my story encourages more Autistic people to start their own businesses.
There are a lot of messages I would like the world to hear. The first is that it’s very important for people to talk positively about Autism because we are not burdens on society. We have so much to offer. Our different way of thinking is the reason we have the internet and SpongeBob SquarePants and so many other wonderful, innovative things. Also, please don’t limit us because we are Autistic. Instead of saying someone can’t drive a car, say that they can’t drive a car yet. We are always changing and learning. We have the capacity to achieve great things. Oh, and my mum would tell everyone to read NeuroTribes!
It makes me happy that my story can help other Autistic kids and teens. My advice to all of you would be: never stop believing in yourself and surround yourself with people who believe in you!