Understanding and acceptance
Ken Kerrison is determined to increase society’s awareness of the strengths and skills of people on the autism spectrum.
“People like me have a lot to offer the world and that’s something others need to understand,” he says. The 18 year old plans to write a book to encourage young Tasmanians with autism who may have experienced bullying or misunderstanding.
“I want to raise awareness of Asperger’s and autism,” he says. “I explain that it’s a different way of thinking and viewing the world. It’s a disability and can be quite crippling in some ways, especially socially,” he explains. “It’s difficult to know what is appropriate, what to talk about, how to read social cues. For example, I might start blabbering away about a special interest of mine to people who have no understanding of it, and they think it’s weird”.
The book project is one goal Ken has identified as part of his NDIS plan. With the support of Anglicare Tasmania, he is also working to increase his cooking and social skills. “I’d like to gain more independence,” he says. “I want to learn how to cook proper, healthy meals for myself”. He’s practised making chow mien, sausage rolls and stir-fry, and plans to try more new recipes.” I’d like to be able to make a variety of different meals,” he says.
Ken is also participating in sessions to improve his social skills. “I want to be able to go on social outings, make friends, and take part in groups that I’d fit in well with,” he says. “I’m learning about how to interact and to know appropriate boundaries with people”.
These skills will be put into practice when Ken takes part in a TAFE course this year. “I’m hoping that this will be better than some of my past school experiences,” he says. “I need to do some catch up work because I missed quite a lot of high school. TAFE will help to prepare me for future study”.
Ken says the NDIS and Anglicare are supporting him to achieve his goals. “When people with Asperger’s are given the opportunity they can be very, very good and talented and excel at something,” he says. “If they’re not given the chance, not only do they miss out, other people miss out as well”.
“I want to be a role model for people with Asperger’s and use my story to help others”.