Celebrating Autism with Paul’s Story of Triumph
Chat with our Client, Paul on World Autism Awareness Day
April 2nd is International Autism Awareness Day, and we’re excited to share the story of one of our clients who has been thriving with autism. We had the pleasure of interviewing Paul, who shared their experiences with us. In this interview, we’ll learn more about his journey, what he has learned along the way, and how he has overcome challenges.
- Please introduce yourself, tell us a little about your life to date and, also your disability.
Hi, my name is Paul, I am 45 years of age, and was raised in a Christian family in The Sutherland Shire and I’m the eldest of my siblings. I see myself with having the challenges of a mild intellectual disability however I never let it stop the true potential of the incredible person that I am. I’m a very talented drummer, a fluent author, extremely good at song writing and poetry. I see myself as a very warm loving compassing caring forgiving person with a heart for other people always willing to lend a helping hand. And I have an incredible relationship with my girlfriend.
- How do you think World Autism Awareness Day can help in promoting better understanding and acceptance of autism?
First and foremost, it will raise awareness of the autism spectrum and the ways in which people with autism cope, as I am a little bit autistic myself. People need to be aware of this so that they can assist autistic people in better comprehending how to assist them in acknowledging them rather than making fun of them for being different.
- What are some common misconceptions about autism that you would like to dispel?
That autistic people aren’t as smart and social as other people. If these autistic people believe the lies that are fed to them, which cause them a lot of anxiety, low self-esteem, and the impression that they don’t count or are important, these statements are not true, and they shouldn’t be shaped by what other people think of them.
- How has your experience of being autistic been different from what people might expect?
People should treat people with disabilities as equals; unfortunately, people with disabilities are made fun of and feel bad about themselves. I wish people could understand what it’s like to be autistic from my perspective, so that they can better appreciate the challenges that people with disabilities face on a daily basis. Even though I’m a very talented writer and have written a book, people don’t expect much from me.
- How have your friends and family supported you?
By providing care services, considering my best interests, and assisting me in achieving my goals; goals and expectations for the future Through shopping, putting me on the right track, and steering me clear of bad influences that could get me into serious trouble, God has blessed me with a firm foothold on the right track. Also, I had a hard time going out on my own for a few months because crossing roads was a big challenge, but with enough support and encouragement, I’ve mastered this and continue to practice every day.
- How have you developed your social skills and relationships with others, despite the challenges of Autism?
During my childhood, I received both speech therapy and occupational therapy.
I have developed most of social and relationship skills via internet aka online. However, if you want to make friends online, you need to be careful about who you open up to and choose to make friends with. Unfortunately, I mingled with the wrong kind of people online and got hurt, but I turned away and learned from it. Through a day program that includes a variety of discos and other social events, which I thoroughly enjoy and in which my girlfriend also participates and, looking forward to taking part few days a week very soon.
- What are some of your proudest accomplishments, and how have they impacted your life?
I have written a book about my life, telling the story of everything I’ve gone through and survived by God’s grace. I thought it was crucial to share my life story with the real world. Despite being in a group home and taking a lot of medication, I was still able to write a book, which was a huge accomplishment at the time. Writing it was difficult. Also, I had a book launch. The carer from the group home made a cake with blue buttercream icing in the shape of my book and the title. Years later, I wrote a letter to the council to leave the group home. It took some time, but I now live independently and happily in a housing in NSW.
I gave up gambling because I realised it was hurting me and causing a lot of depression, I was tired of losing money, and I thought it was the right thing to do. As a result, I ended up with many relationships that were broken up. I now know that gambling can make you depressed. I’m glad I stopped that, but I hope I don’t start it again.
Few years ago, I had the opportunity to partake in a project with ‘My Choice Matters‘ which is a disability association that was this project was fundraised by – I decided to do the project on Epilepsy, I referred to my project as “What a day to shine for Epilepsy” and on the day of launching, I sold many copies of my book, shirts, pens. At the community hall, we did apple bobbing for the kids who were there. My dad and I also did a drumming performance while playing on a pearl masters kit.
- Can you tell me a little bit about your experience working with Maple Community Services?
They have supported me since about 2020, I have found their workers to be very helpful I met them through a court referral and they a rock to me and solid support to me. And when I was struggling with walking, they gave me the courage and capacity to overcome this and gave me confidence.
- How has Maple Community Services helped you overcome challenges or obstacles that you’ve faced?
Maple helped me when I was having trouble walking; now that I’m confident enough to do it on my own, I practice every day. They also gave me the confidence to be aware of online scams, which I was able to escape—from which I am still hurting and recovering—but I had to do what was best for me and start listening to the people who care about me, which forced me to change my mind and change the course of my life. However, put your faith in God to help me overcome this challenge.
- Can you share any specific example of a time when Maple Community Services went above and beyond to support you?
Maple supported to come to my senses and re-direct me to the right path that was leading me to the wrong path of destruction. I’m very grateful that I listened to their advice, as I sometimes had problems previously taking advice, as I could have been in trouble with the federal police and they supported me to make a stand against scammers, they also helped me greatly when I was being lured by an international love scam, they helped me allot, the support workers and TL, Brooke were caring and went above and beyond for me to help me escape the criminals.
- What are your future goals and aspirations, and how do you plan to achieve them?
I might want to get ready for marriage and wedded, and possible location for my partner to live with me. Fortunately, this has already been discussed. I want to walk without stress on my own. I have received support in this matter, and I now regularly practice crossing streets.
Since I enjoyed that project from “My Choice Matters,” which I mentioned earlier, I’ve come to realise that I have the potential to successfully assist people in organising events. My long-term goal is to become a disability event coordinator. I would like to think about starting a new organisation, for which I already have a name, that will help people with disabilities live better lives by selling merchandise and getting as many people as possible involved. People will be content with this.