Life had always had its challenges for Sean, but it wasn't until he was in his 40s that the Raymond Terrace man was formally diagnosed with autism.
The father of three said he saw similar personality traits between himself and his youngest son, who also has autism.
The NDIS support has allowed Sean to flourish in his own small business, a local lawn mowing service. Sean now has supports to improve his mobility, reduce muscle pain plus support workers.
While originally starting as a residential lawn mower, with NDIS support it has allowed Sean to build his business to service commercial businesses.
“Being autistic is a positive attribute because I can't help picking up every little detail and making sure edges are perfectly straight, no grass is out of place, paths are spotless, and I do genuinely care that the lawn looks as good as humanly possible,” he said.
Life is busy for Sean as he grows his business and spends time with his sons and young grandsons.
Sean says one day he wants to hire and train others with autism to mow lawns as well as set up a charity to teach professionals about autism. But for now, Sean says life is pretty good.
The new Autism Advisory Group (AAG) will provide a strong voice on behalf of people with autism who are participating in the NDIS.
Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan said the Australian Government established the AAG because of its commitment to a collaborative, fact-based approach to autism and the rollout of the NDIS.
“The Autism Advisory Group includes autism experts, service providers and people with lived experience of autism,” Mr Tehan said. “The Group will advise the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) on autism, and how to deliver the best outcomes for adults and children.”
The AAG has set four priorities for the next 12 months:
- Exploring the most appropriate approach for assessing NDIS eligibility and improving outcomes for people with autism
- Improving the NDIS participant experience for people with autism
- Enhancing the skills of NDIA staff, Local Area Coordinators and Early Childhood Early Intervention staff
- Providing greater mainstream and community inclusion for people with autism
Australian Advisory Board on Autism Spectrum Disorders (AABASD) chairperson Adrian Ford said the AAG had wide-ranging discussions with the NDIA about the key issues and priorities for the sector and Australians on the autism spectrum.
“The NDIA listened and are committed to working with the AAG and the sector more broadly on improving the life outcomes of people on the autism spectrum,” Mr Ford said.
Amaze acting CEO Braedan Hogan said, “We are encouraged by the NDIA’s collaborative approach in working with autistic people and the autism sector.
“Only by working together can we ensure we maximise the investment the NDIA is making in autistic people.”
Autistic Self Advocacy Network of Australia and New Zealand (ASAN AUNZ) operations manager Katharine Annear said, “There was a great deal of knowledge exchanged and goodwill brought to the meeting – enlightening all regarding the true needs of autistic people.”
The Group is comprised of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), Amaze, ASAN AUNZ, AABASD and the Australian Autism Alliance.