Sue Lever, parent of Michael

Michael’s dream job is to own his own a coffee cart, where he can make biscuits and coffee and can employ other young people with disability from his school.

Michael is in year 12 at Black Mountain School and has autism spectrum disorder. Through the Ticket to Work network, Michael has undertaken a range of hospitality work experience placements, including 6 degrees café, Bush Capitol and YMCA Leamus Lodge.

Michael’s work experience and the 6 degree café resulted in paid employment one afternoon per week. There is also real possibility that his work experience at the YMCA Leamus Lodge will lead to paid employment.

Sue, Michael’s mom says, “Before we started to work with Frank Fogliati (Ticket to Work), we tried to go out and get a job and it was so hard. Two years ago I would be crying, a total mess. Now I just think, you know what this guy has just as much chance in life as my daughter, who’s older and at uni.”

Sue says that the school has been incredibility supportive. “Everyone involved (in Ticket to Work) has just put in, it’s been incredible. I’ve seen a significant change in his confidence since he done work experience, from a child that was partially non-verbal, wouldn’t give eye contact and never talk to a stranger – his confidence now is huge and he talks with new people.”

Michael loves cooking and the hands on experience he is getting. Sue says it has taught him a lot and he is loving the practical, real life experience and to be out of the classroom.

Sue is more positive than she used to be about Michael finishing school.

“Work experience gives kids with disability purpose and confidence. My son is visual learner – going out there gives him skills. He is learning social skills, money responsibility, presentation of oneself, how to behave in work environment. The work experience, and now part time job, teaches him how to take directions and how to carry a task through. It helps kids to gain independence and have goals, dreams and purpose.”

Michael has learnt to catch a bus. And despite it not always going to plan, Sue says that before any work experience she didn’t think it was something that he could do independently.

Sue’s highlight since Michael connected with the Ticket to Work network was to see him come home with a sparkle in his eye and to have a lot more confidence.

“For him to come home with the confidence, telling me about his day, he had a sense of achievement, has been fantastic,” Sue says.

Michael would like to set up his own coffee cart business one day, but in the meantime, he will be looking for additional part time employment when he finishes school. “My hope is that he finds some employment, part-time a few days a week,” Sue says.

“Ticket to Work is for the community too. It’s making the community very aware that people with a disability do have ability. This is what I love. These kids have ability and we need to tap into them.”