Nicole’s Story

Work My Way program empowers Nicole to pursue career goals



Autism SA’s Work My Way program equips young autistic adults with skills and experience to pursue their career goals.

Nicole is one of the participants and through her involvement with the program has secured volunteer roles at a library and an op shop.

Nicole thoroughly enjoys working at the library as her love of books and the quiet atmosphere of the library complements her sensory needs, allowing her to excel in her role.

“I’m mostly reshelving books and organising stuff, or neatening up bookshelves – lots of visual and hands on tasks, which is what I’m good at,” she says.

“And all the library staff are really nice, which is a lovely added bonus.”

“Being surrounded by books constantly, I’d say that’s one of my favourite bits. I’ve always loved reading books, they’re wonderful,” Nicole says.

Nicole also enjoys her role at the op shop, but the opportunity to volunteer in the two roles has allowed her to work out her strengths and preferences for a job.

At the op-shop she states, “There is a lot of again, visual and hands-on tasks… learning how to price things… and just generally making sure things neat and tidy and most importantly safe.” She also has to interact a lot with customers, which she finds exhausting because of the constant masking.

“I’ve got very much got a script in my head that I follow. I make sure I have a pleasant facial expression and constantly monitor my tone of voice and make sure I’m doing eye contact or bamboozlement eye contact, as I call it, where I look at about here on someone’s face,” she says as she points to her forehead, a method she uses to avoid making eye contact.

“Yeah, it’s just so much I’ve got to think about on top of my actual job that I’m doing, so it can be a lot.”

While acknowledging the challenges of customer interactions at the shop’s front desk, Nicole expressed gratitude for the supportive environment and the friendships she has formed with her coworkers.

“I’ve actually made some very good friends there which has been really nice. I enjoy coming in to see the people I work with, sometimes more than I enjoy going there to do the work, which is not something I have really experienced before.”

Only 38% of Australians on the spectrum participate in the workforce, compared to 83% of Australians without a disability. Autism SA’s Work my Way program tackles the issue of high unemployment rates for autistic people by mentoring young autistic adults and building their skills, experience and confidence by supporting them to find and maintain work experience in areas of their interest, with the aim of securing paid employment.

When asked what her dream job is Nicole shared, “I’d love to work within the library system…It works really well to my strengths. Works really well for my sensory sensitivities. I would actually be able to learn and thrive in the environment because of how it’s set up. And being able to work around books all day is wonderful.’

Reflecting on her journey with the Work My Way program, Nicole values the support she’s received and the opportunities for personal growth, particularly building social skills and forming connections with other Work my Way participants.

As Nicole looks towards the future, she remains grateful for the guidance and assistance she has received through the Work My Way program. With her determination and the ongoing support of Autism SA, Nicole is well on her way to achieving her career aspirations in the library system.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Work My Way Program at Autism SA. They have helped me find a career path and set me on track to achieve my goals. In 2024, I am studying the Certificate IV in Library and Information Services part time at TAFE SA, which I was supported to get into through Work My Way,” said Nicole.

The Work My Way program is funded by SLES (School Leavers Employment Support) and the NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency). 



Autism SA is Australia’s oldest autism support organisation and South Australia’s peak body for autism. Our programs help autistic South Australian’s and their families feel supported, welcomed and understood in our state. Your donations support us to:

  • Improve inclusion and accessibility in South Australia. We advocate to government and businesses to ensure the Autistic community is heard, valued and included.
  • Allow us to provide our mobile sensory zone at community events, providing a welcoming and safe place for autistic people.
  • Maintain our free, online resources that provide Autistic people, their loved ones and the broader community with reliable, up-to-date and evidenced based information.


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a person stacking books on a shelf in the library

person outside Blackwood library sign