STEPS student calls for better representation of autism in media

 In Our Stories

As we begin Autism Awareness Month, it is incredibly important that we give underrepresented and misrepresented groups the opportunity to share their experiences and unique stories.

This is the key message that one of our STEPS Pathways College students, Jessica Finn, hopes to highlight.

Jessica has a lot of say about how autism, which Jessica lives with, is currently portrayed in the media.

“We’re not unintelligent, I’ve seen that shown in media a lot,” Jessica said.

“People make movies about us and they will make us look like we’re so incapable.

Jessica hopes that one day portrayal of characters with autism will align closer to real life, and all the success that people with autism are able to achieve.

Jessica herself is a brilliant example, having spent her last year furthering her skills at STEPS Pathways College in the Sunshine Coast. As she resided in Brisbane at the time, Jessica originally undertook our online program before moving onto face-to-face classes when she moved into the Sunshine Coast area.

“I did the online program until October of last year,” Jessica said.

“When I was in Brisbane, there was no STEPS, there was nothing like it.

“I’m glad I found it, it is a really good place, for me it was the best decision I made last year.”

While at the College, Jessica is also partaking in a new skills program that the College is running through their newly built café, Café on George. The café simulates a real-world hospitality environment and helps the students learn workplace skills that they can use to gain employment after their graduation.

“I’m in the café at the moment and I quite like it, I would consider working in a café after graduation” Jessica said.

Her success has not gone unnoticed, with her supervisor and café manager, Michelle, noting that Jessica is a proactive and passionate worker.

“Jessica has been an absolute breath of fresh air,” Michelle said.

“In a very short time, Jessica showed that she was a diligent and passionate worker; she’s always the first to volunteer to learn new things.

“If it’s something she decides to pursue, I think she will be an amazing asset to any café.”

A drawings of five trees on a landscape

A drawing by Jessica Finn

Jessica says she has many ideal jobs, including working at a café, but is currently focused on pursuing a job that utilises her wild imagination and steady drawing hand.

Undertaking a visual arts course at a local TAFE in her spare time, Jessica has been creating sculptures and drawing pictures.

Currently keeping her projects under wrap, Jessica looks forward to putting some of her art online sometime soon.

Jessica hopes that she will be able to make a career out of her art, and that employers will give her the same opportunity as others.

In the meantime, Jessica is continuing to strive for her long-term goal of moving out of home and gaining her independence, which she says she is well on the way to with the help of her teachers at STEPS Pathways College.

“It’s slowly getting better now; I’ve met a few people who have brought my spark back and I’m excited to see what happens when we start to give more people a chance,” Jessica concluded.

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