Customer Service Rep With Autism Thrives in The Workforce With Support from atWork Australia

Will Sawyer, who has autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is working full-time as a Customer Service Representative and thriving despite her neurodivergence, with the support of atWork Australia.

Having worked in a number of roles, Will sought advice and practical support to help him find more sustainable, long-term employment. As a full-time as Customer Service Representative, assisting with social media and customer enquiries for a large organisation, Will has had structured support assistance to develop his confidence speaking to managers and develop strategies to better manage his ADHD at work. 

“I really struggled to get into the workforce, especially with some of the barriers I face as a neurodivergent person. At times, my ADHD made me feel like applying for jobs was an impossible task – I didn’t know where to start,” said Will.

will sawyer autism
Photo Credit: Supplied

Whilst over 200,000 Australians live with autism, only 38 per cent of autistic people between the working age of 15 to 64 years old are part of the Australian labour force but leading employment agency atWork Australia says it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Autism is a complex, lifelong condition that begins in early childhood, with wide-ranging characteristics including difficulty in communicating and interacting socially, and highly focused or repetitive behaviour, per the Australian Bureau of Statistics. These characteristics are just some of the factors that impact their chances of employment.  

Currently, research shows that around 3 in 10 autistic Australians are unable to work due to their disability. The remaining 7 in 10 can face difficulties finding a preferred job, experience restrictions on the type of job available to them or require regular supervision and assistance. The median income of those who live with a disability, including those who are autistic compared to those who aren’t, is half, according to the Australian Institute of Welfare.

Will, and the support he received, is an example of how the Federal Government’s recent announcement of funding for Brisbane’s Autism Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) can provide advice and resources for prospective employers to better support autistic Australians. For people like Will, this can mean a better understanding of their capabilities and how to set employment goals that are right for them. 

As someone with lived experience, Will is passionate about empowering neurodivergent individuals, “I hope to see more spaces for neurodivergent people in employment settings where they can thrive,” said Will.

“This job is another step in the right direction for me and hopefully will get me one step closer to my goal of starting my own business, it’s a really supportive workplace, and I work with some really great people.” continued Will.  

Since 2003, atWork Australia has been helping build people’s confidence and works collaboratively with clients to find creative solutions so everyone can find employment that is right for them.  The organisation has over 360 locations and has partnerships with over 3,500 employers across the country.

To find out more about atWork Australia’s support services, please visit:

Published 31 March 2023