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I fit in at Aspect and love it!

15 June 2022

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Ten years ago, my mum enrolled me in Aspect’s Adult Community Services (ACS) program in Hawthorn, Victoria. I was diagnosed on the autism spectrum at age 14, and didn’t do well at school. I was really hesitant to join the community program, because I didn’t feel like I needed it and my first day was really stressful. But, after the initial first weeks, I got to know people here. Everyone is so smart and friendly. I realised how much I love it here and all the fun activities.

During the COVID lockdowns, I thought a lot about what I like to do for employment, and I didn’t want a job where I couldn’t still be a part of Aspect ACS. There has been a joke that when new people or staff joined, most people thought I was staff because I am supportive and like getting to know everyone. So, I asked if I could work at the centre, and they hired me as an Autism Liaison Officer.

I’m having a great time. I work two days a week at the centre and attend three days as a participant. I support new participants when they join. I am able to guide them, especially if they feel nervous or anxious, so they feel comfortable. I help out with walkthroughs, answer questions, get to know the participants and what activities they might like, and give feedback on the types of programs we run at the centre. I also run Trivia and co-run other activities.

I think there were some positives from COVID, not just for myself but for participants attending Aspect too. It made us realise what we were missing and how much we like coming to the centre and seeing our friends.

It’s a great atmosphere. In Hawthorn, we have a garden out back next to a pub, which has a very nice café feel to it. The centre is fun with music playing, and there is always something to do out in the community. Since COVID, some of the participants are willing to try new activities now too.

I love getting to know everyone so that I can understand what they are going through, and can help. I fit in. Doing the job at Aspect feels quite easy to me. The staff have helped me to improve myself in every way. Aspect really means a lot to me. When I’m on holiday, I’d just really rather be here!

A blog post by Tom Broadley.

An excerpt of this original story was originally published in Link Magazine (April/May 2022)


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