Shoko, 23.

I’m international student from Japan. I’m studying Mechatronics Engineering at university and I volunteer as web officer at the I CAN Network. When I was 20, my psychiatrist told me that I was on the Autism Spectrum.

When I decided to come to Australia and do my degree, my mum thought it would be too difficult for me. In fact, I had trouble adjusting when I did a short homestay in Perth when I was high school. But I insisted on coming here because I wanted to start a new life, learn to live independently and improve my English further. It’s not always easy for me to live by myself and study at university, but I keep telling myself that I CAN do this and I’m now in my 4th year of university. I still have one year left before I complete my degree, but I’m really happy with what I have achieved so far.

I have realised that it’s much more important to focus on what I like to do and what I am good at.

I would like to tell my 10-year-old self that it is okay to be different from other people. I used to hate myself for being different, and I always focused on what I wasn’t good at. But I have realised that it’s much more important to focus on what I like to do and what I am good at. I have realised that doing this makes me feel much better about myself.

The I CAN Network has helped me to understand more about Autism and myself, in a good way. I grew up not knowing anything about Autism. Until I was told that I might have Autism at age of 20, I didn’t really know anything about it. One of the reasons I joined the I CAN Network was to meet people on the Spectrum and to learn more about Autism. My involvement at the I CAN Network has enabled me to find out what I CAN do and what I’m good at, especially after attending the young adults camp.

I believe that talking about Autism in a positive way will help people on the Spectrum to realise their talents and focus on their strengths, rather than on what they can’t do. If society focuses on our negatives all of the time, we lose confidence and have difficulty achieving what we really want to do.

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Shoko’s involvement at the I CAN Network has enabled them to embrace their capabilities. Shoko is now working hard to provide the same opportunity to other people on the Autism Spectrum. If you believe that stories like Shoko’s are worth celebrating, you can build a society that benefits from embracing Autism.

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