Life began making more sense to Sean Walker when two years ago, at the age of 41, he was formally diagnosed with autism.
Challenges the Raymond Terrace man had dealt with all his life such as the mental drain he felt after a visit to a shopping centre, struggles with personal relationships and physical issues such as pain in his wrists from hypermobility made sense after he was diagnosed by a clinical psychologist.
“When I first came out about it people said ‘you don’t look autistic’. I said ‘what does autistic look like?’ There's no particular look for it,” Mr Walker said.
“Then I could explain to my family and friends exactly what goes on for me. It was very difficult at the time. It was like I had to rewrite my whole life.
“I used to think I'm just like everyone else. Then I started to realise that because I’m autistic that was why I reacted to something in certain a way or thought a particular way.”
It was after his youngest son was diagnosed with autism that Mr Walker, who had noticed similarities between them, thought to get tested.
After coming to terms with the diagnosis Mr Walker devoted himself to finding out as much as he could about autism. He said it became his passion.
A willingness to share his story and provide advice for others going through similar circumstances led Mr Walker to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
After visiting a specialist to find the right NDIS support for him, Mr Walker now receives help for the social and physical issues associated with autism that he experiences.
He has support to improve his mobility and reduce muscle pain and workers who help him tick of daily tasks.
“I'll find documentaries and learning about things really exciting but having a shower and doing stretches, I'll totally forget about them sometimes,” Mr Walker said.
“Even with eating and drinking. I’ll get so focused on other things that I’ll forget. The support worker will give me a call to remind me about that stuff, and help me plan out my days.”
The NDIS support has allowed Mr Walker to flourish in his own small business, a lawn mowing service.
While originally starting as a residential lawn mower on the Central Coast, the move to Raymond Terrace to be with his wife, Lisa, and the NDIS support has allowed him expand to commercial businesses.
“Being autistic is a positive attribute,” Mr Walker said. “I can’t help picking up every little detail and making sure edges are perfectly straight, no blade of grass is out of place, paths are spotless, and I do genuinely care that the lawn looks as good as humanly possible.”
Life is busy for Mr Walker as he grows his business and spends time with his wife, three sons – aged 23, 16 and 14 – and two grandsons, 18 months and four months.
Mr Walker said one day he wants to hire and train others with autism to mow lawns as well as set up a charity to teach professionals about autism.