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31 Mar 2019


Community advocate develops podcast to raise awareness about life on the autism spectrum


Haydn Payne (L) with a group of his mentees from a peer-mentorship group that helps high-functioning young adults on the autism spectrum.

IgniteAbility® is a pilot program established by SSI to facilitate business creation for people with a disability who want to establish a small business or expand an existing one.

After being ill-diagnosed with ADHD, Mr Payne was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at age 16 and, in the context of the 1990s when it was not a social condition many had been aware of, had to break barriers and cope with his condition through his own set of resilience tactics.

“As someone growing up in a low socioeconomic environment, and during a time in the ’90s when many didn’t know what Asperger’s even was, I found myself facing many challenges,” he said.

“After many frustrations, I decided to do something more proactively and get involved in the autism community and advocate to raise awareness.”

Mr Payne worked with Autism Step Australia and developed a holistic approach to life skills for young adults aged 14-30 on the autism spectrum and now co-facilitates with the organisation.

Between 2017 and 2018 he delivered and facilitated a project — Spectrumite Group — a peer mentorship group model that creates a safe and inclusive environment for young adults on the spectrum.

In 2018, Mr Payne was introduced to IgniteAbility® and has since piloted his first podcast, Spectrumite, with the support of his IgniteAbility® facilitator Merenia Marin.

“Haydn is a remarkable and exceptionally bright young man, and I am certain that his platform will reach good traction,” she said.

“He speaks about the topic with experience, truth and conviction, but also uses his witty sense of humour to engage his audiences.”

With firsthand lived experience, Mr Payne applies astute insight and knowledge to his product, dealing with the unique challenges facing adolescents on the spectrum in integrating into mainstream social, workplace and relational environments.

“My podcast aims to help ’sperg kids so that they can reach their full potential in a world structured not for them, but neurotypical people,” he said.

The podcast is only the first step in the puzzle for Mr Payne, and he intends to continue the development of a suite of products that will help young people to more successfully navigate their adult lives.

“Once the podcast is launched and has reached some momentum, I’m planning to roll out workable solutions, online content, peer group facilitation and supports,” he said.

IgniteAbility® has been inspired by the success of the Ignite® Small Business Start-ups model and is tailored to address barriers and meet the specific needs of entrepreneurs with a disability, providing an ecosystem of support for aspiring entrepreneurs.

So far 30 IgniteAbility® businesses have been successfully established.

To follow Haydn’s journey follow Spectrumite on Facebook.

Click here to watch Haydn featured on SBS News as part of an episode for World Autism Awareness Day.

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