Hi. My name is Jordan Smith. I am 27 years old and I have my own microbusiness. I have been with Interchange for quite a while – 10 years I think. I have been looking for a job for the past 8 years, but it was hard because of my disability and people being very rude to me. I have been wanting to work but I could never stay long in one job. My autism made it hard for me to focus on tasks and working around other people or a lot of noise made me scared and anxious.
I kind of gave up until my Support Worker Kylie came along. She was so positive and fun and had so many great ideas. That made me excited. She also is great to talk to and was very interested to find out more about me.
She asked me many questions. What I liked. What I didn’t like. What I was interested in and what I was really good at. I had to think about some of these things for a while. I wasn’t really sure what I was good at. A lot of things scared me. But the more time I spend with Kylie and the more we talked and tried all kinds of things the more I found out about myself.
My mum always says Kylie and I make a great team and I think so too. We also have some great chats. Kylie always understands me and what I can and can’t do and she respects my opinion.
If I tell her I don’t like something or feel uncomfortable, she understands and says we can always try another day. I trust Kylie. In fact, I trust her so much that she can now take me to the hairdresser, which I usually only do with my mum. It feels good to open up to other people and being myself.
Kylie and I spoke a lot about my future and the job I would like to have. I wanted to work somewhere outdoors and not with other people working alongside me. Large crowds and noises can trigger me so I am trying to avoid these situations. We came up with many different things I could do – Letter Box Drops, Gardening, Lawn Mowing, Edges, Weeding, Mulching, Raking and Sweeping, Car Washing, and Cleaning. After we had written down all the things I would enjoy doing, Kylie asked me and my mum if it would be ok to write about the services I offer on Facebook. I didn’t really know much about it but Kylie explained all the details to me and said it could help to get some customers for my business. Kylie also got me into the local newspaper. I met with a reporter and he wrote an article about me. I was a bit nervous to be in the paper but with Kylie’s support I did a great interview, and when I saw the article I was really proud. I even laughed and I never laugh. I have never been in the newspaper before and having so many people get back to me about my business made me feel like I am famous. Kylie and I went out and bought 8 copies.
All of this really helped promote my business and find new clients. People started writing and ringing me and I was so happy people wanted to hire me.
I was surprised to receive this amount of work but it was a huge relief. I now work one day a week for Freshbrew Coffee Vans. I do the cleaning, restocking of fridges and shelves, vacuuming and stock take check lists. This is a permanent thing but I also have many little jobs next to it every week. At first, I found it difficult and exhausting to do physical work for longer periods, but I got used to it and now enjoy it very much. It’s hard work, but it’s all worth it.
Kylie helps me to keep track of my jobs as it can be confusing at times. She ensures all bookings are updated weekly and talks to my other Support Workers, so they know when I have a job coming up. I organise what tools I need to bring and I am always well prepared for my workday. I learned how to use tools, electrical and fuel-based equipment, which is still kind of a surprise to me. A year ago, I couldn’t even walk past a lawn mower or wiper snipper as the noise would trigger me. I would put my headphones on so I could not hear it and now I am thinking about getting my own equipment?!
Since I am only working outside or in undercover areas, I have learned to read a weather forecast and to decide if it is safe for me to work under these conditions. If anything, ever comes up and I can’t do a job I call my clients and tell them I will be coming another time. Kylie has helped me to prepare for conversations with my clients. I am also able to talk to complete strangers now, which is important to find new clients.
My business is going very well. I have wanted a job for so long, more than 8 years, and now I have been successfully running my own business for more than 6 months with Kylie’s help. Having a job makes me feel normal for once. I have weekly bookings from my clients and they all enjoy my services coming back over and over again.
I have started to write my own receipts, money handling, budgeting and saving! Kylie takes me to the bank where I count my money, bag notes and coins, and calculate the total amount that I will be giving to the bank teller. I do understand now how hard you have to work to earn money and how easily it can be spent. That’s why I like to save a lot, so I can afford to buy a new laptop and go traveling. I want to take my mum on a holiday to see the Daintree Forest in Queensland, the Sydney opera house, but only from the outside, and go to London, England where my dad is from.
Kylie and I speak a lot about my goals and what I want to achieve in life. We write them down together and then work towards them. In the future I would like to learn to do more things on my own. I want to be more independent. Now that I have a job another big goal would be to move into my own home one day. I am not ready yet but I think I will be one day.
I think I have learned a lot since working with Kylie and I believe in myself, which feels great. My family, friends and Support Workers are very proud of me and so am I. Having a job that I like makes me feel a lot more confident. Sometimes this means stepping out of my comfort zone, but I have learned that I can achieve way more by doing this. I can now talk to complete strangers and do things I wasn’t able to before. I learnt a lot of new things and realised that I can do much more than I ever thought. I can take care of myself.
Kylie has taught me – Everything is possible if I just believe in myself. Thank you, Kylie!