“I now have the chance to help the younger generation understand that Autism is not a scary thing and I can encourage them to identify their own strengths.” – Ryan

Ryan Freemantle is a wonderful example of someone who has used his own positive experience as an I CAN mentee as inspiration to become a mentor himself and serve the community in many meaningful ways. A key part of our Goulburn Murray team, Ryan brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and positive energy to his mentor role. Mentees especially enjoy hearing about his volunteer work with the CFA (Country Fire Authority) and his lively recounting of events!

In this brief video interview, Ryan shares some of his experiences in high school, his very cool career aspirations and offers encouragement to other Autistic young people. Click here or on the image below to watch Ryan’s video interview. 

On his work with the CFA: I got into the CFA because it was always something that caught my eye as a child and I also had some friends involved with it. I’ve been a member of the Tatura Fire Brigade since late 2018; I joined just after I turned 17. .As a volunteer with the CFA, I’m on call all through the fire season and even in the off season. I’m wildfire qualified but not able to go to building fires yet. However, I do go to the brigade events and help out whenever and for as long as I can!

On his changing view of Autism: Being involved in I CAN has changed the way I view Autism. It’s no longer something to be frightened of or something that I feel like I need to keep secret. Early on, I didn’t think of Autism as a good thing. But now I think of it as a gift. Autism gives you a different perspective on life. I now have the chance to help the younger generation understand that Autism is not a scary thing and I can encourage them to identify their own strengths.

On his own strengths: I’m good with my hands. I enjoy getting to know people and work well with my teammates. I’ve been told that I have strong leadership skills, too!

On a world that embraces Autism:  We need more people to talk about Autism in a positive way so that Autistics feel a part of the community and not ashamed of who we are or easy targets for bullies. A world that truly embraces Autism would be a more welcoming place to live in – and a much livelier one, too!


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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