“I am excited to be part of the self-advocacy movement to drive Autism to a new level of relevance and inclusion.” – Tim

What a privilege it is to have Tim Chan as an Ambassador for I CAN Network. Tim has been a part of our I CAN family since our earliest days and continues to make his mark as an advocate.

In 2014, at age 18, he was the first non speaking Autistic to deliver a TEDx talk and last year, he released his autobiography, Back From The Brink. Tim also plays a meaningful role in several other Autism and disability-related organisations across Australia.

In this powerful video, Tim shares his journey from a high school student who battled years of exclusion and self-doubt to a university student who is embracing his strengths in an inclusive environment whilst growing in confidence as an advocate.

More insights from Tim:

On the importance of meaningful support: Although it was hard to adapt initially to primary school, I was accepted by staff and students. With the support of a fantastic aide, I managed to participate in every class. In Grade 3, I learned to type with support and have relied on this as my preferred mode of communication as it caters best to my needs.

On his motivation to become an advocate: Because of my high school debacle, I wanted to do my best to become an Autism advocate and learn to empower others on the spectrum, especially those without speech. I am also keen to give back all the support and help I’ve received from exceptional people over the years.

On how he views Autism: Over the years, I have learned to see Autism not as a disorder but another way of being in the world. Although the effects of Autism on me can be debilitating, seeing the world with different eyes and in different ways more than compensates.

On embracing his strengths: In acknowledging that I function differently in mind and body, I am able to find the confidence and impetus to use my strengths towards connecting and engagement with the world…I can see things that people may miss because of my heightened sensory and other processing ability. I am good with details and working at putting things together in a big picture. From this unique perspective, I find that I can make contributions in my own ways.

On what he would tell his younger self: I would like to tell my younger self, don’t be too worried about what people think. Although it can be tough when people walk away without acknowledging you, it is important to be in touch with who you are. Don’t be ashamed of yourself, the parts of you that you wish never existed may give you some of the greatest moments of joy and satisfaction.


About Humans on the Autism Spectrum

At I CAN Network, we believe in the power of storytelling. Since 2016, we have been running an annual campaign called Humans on the Autism Spectrum, through which we celebrate the personal stories and insights of Autistics in our network. Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of highlighting many Autistic voices, including young people who are new to our I CAN mentoring programs, those who have been with us for years, mentors, teachers and advocates. 

In 2020, we are especially proud to be partnering with the NDIA to deliver Humans on the Autism Spectrum: School Leavers.

From early April to mid-June, we will be showcasing experiences, insights and advice from ten Autistic members of our team who are navigating post-school life, including TAFE, university, the workplace and community. Their stories contain messages that are relevant not only for younger Autistic peers but for anyone wanting to understand Autistic lived experience.

About I CAN Network

We are a proudly Autistic-led and predominantly Autistic-staffed organisation – the largest of our kind in Australia. We deliver group mentoring to thousands of Autistic young people ages 9-20 across the country via school programs, online group mentoring and community events.  We share our Autistic insights through personal stories, professional development and consultancy work and offer free webinars worldwide. And we provide paid employment opportunities to dozens of Autistics who help design and deliver our game-changing programs.

Our I CAN team and supporters are driven by a shared vision of creating a world that embraces Autism.

Our vision needs everyone. We invite you to join us – subscribe to our newsletter.


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