Phoenix's story


Published 23 April 2022


Phoenix works as one of the maintenance crew at a military base in Auckland. He comes in twice a week to assist his colleagues with everyday work tasks and makes sure the facility he’s assigned to is in shipshape condition.

Working at the base is a dream come true for Phoenix and a long time coming. His love for military history, current military affairs and weaponry was influenced by his father who has long held an interest in all things military, and also an uncle who works at the same base. Ask Phoenix anything about his favourite subject matter and you will not be disappointed by his extensive knowledge. You’ll also hear how Phoenix has a strong interest in stories about heroism, service and innovation - about stories that explain why people behave like they do in times of conflict and how great upheavals change communities forever.

When Phoenix completed high school, he sought the support from local providers for a job placement at the base. Thanks to a government-funded programme and with support from the armed forces, the base was able to employ Phoenix on a two-year contract which was extended for a further year. There was some uncertainty towards the end of the contract as to whether his employment could receive ongoing funding but his Warrant Officer, Commanding Officer and the Base Commander endorsed his continued employment because he brought valuable strengths to the team. Phoenix is reliable, focused, honest and intelligent. Aside from his work ethic, Phoenix also has a generous spirit and has built meaningful rapport with the people at work. He is now employed at the base on a permanent part-time basis.

Working has widened Phoenix’s interests and social network. He is planning to improve his health and fitness; he is keen to engage with sports at work and just enjoys hanging out with his colleagues. Phoenix has a bright future ahead of him, however, the journey to get to where he is now was not without its challenges. Phoenix said that growing up, very little was known about ASD and people around him grappled to understand his needs and abilities. He was diagnosed at the same time as his youngest brother was diagnosed as being on the spectrum too. Talking about his time at school and life as a student is hard for him. But now, Phoenix shows a deep awareness that society needs to be more inclusive and supportive of all kinds of people. 

His mother, Adelaide, says that people’s attitudes and behaviour towards disability can be crippling and hurtful. All of her children are on the spectrum with the youngest needing a lot of behavioural support. She hopes that people can be more understanding and accepting of their situation.

Adelaide credits one of our specialists, Jessie, for the remarkable support they’ve received ever since her boys were little. She said that Jessie has a good grasp of how living with ASD impacts their lives. Their family is used to support workers coming and going, but considers us a mainstay in their lives. She feels comfortable being quirky around Jessie, has shed some tears in front of her when life gets a little tough and that Jessie’s sense of humour makes it easy for Adelaide to open up to her.

Our teams are also skilled in planning wraparound supports for whānau and in developing creative solutions for individuals. Adelaide said Jessie has been a source of valuable information over the years, connecting them to programmes her boys might like and networks that can provide additional support. She said that Jessie provides more than support—she is part of the whānau.

Ngā mihi nui, Phoenix and Adelaide, for sharing your story with us.