“Being on the autism spectrum has affected my whole life in a variety of ways.” – Steph

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Our job seeker Steph has been working with EPIC Assist for almost a year. It’s not been all smooth sailing, but Steph has come a long way and is feeling more positive about her future. Steph was involved in our annual art exhibition, A World of Difference, last year. She sold her artwork entitled A Big Deal, which depicts the heightened sensory sensitivities she experiences due to autism.

Check out Steph’s candid thoughts below on how her journey to employment is progressing.

Steph’s story

“Being on the autism spectrum has affected my whole life in a variety of ways, but during adulthood, it has had a significant impact on my ability to find long-term employment that fits my strengths and qualifications.

I obtained a Bachelor in Creative Writing and an Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design on the Sunshine Coast, but job openings were scarce and successful applicants were expected to have prior experience, or managed to obtain the position through networking. After unsuccessfully applying for jobs for several months I was an anxious and depressed mess. I felt that I had been overlooked by the employers, that my work wasn’t as good as my peers from TAFE, and that there didn’t seem to be a place for me in the workforce. A few months later, I was luckily referred to an excellent psychologist who helped me deal with this negative thinking.

It was then that my Mum decided to relocate our family back to Brisbane so that I could find work, and just living in the city again with more like-minded people made me much happier. My psychologist recommended that I work with EPIC Assist in Windsor, and in the 11 months I have been with EPIC, I feel much more prepared and confident about re-entering the workforce.

It was also thanks to EPIC that I was able to regain motivation to work on my novel series.

I have been working on a fantasy series since high school (nearly 15 years), but it has been a very fragmented process since it has been easy for me to get stuck or lose motivation. While at an appointment at EPIC I heard about meetup.com, and through it I was able to find a couple of groups which meet weekly. Just going to that first session allowed me to break through the block that had kept me frozen for the last year. I now go to those groups every week; they allow me to access a dedicated workspace and meet with like-minded people, which helps me to stay motivated. I feel positive about the progress I have made since joining these groups, and I hope to finally finish a draft of the first book this year.

I still have negative thoughts about my lack of work; it’s especially easy for them to creep up on me during days when I’m not busy. I worry about not having anything yet, about lacking in motivation, and about my age becoming an obstacle (I’m about to turn 30). But at the same time, I have made a lot of progress since I was stuck on the Sunshine Coast three years ago feeling that life was getting away from me. I think that I continue to grow as a person every year, and by the time another three years have passed, I will surely be in an even better position than I am now.”