Anthony Taikato, 19, is breaking down the stigma of autism as he continues to achieve massive personal and professional milestones

Kaitlyn Smith

The teen used to undertake an hours-long commute before the sun had even risen in order to complete his TAFE studies

IPSWICH teen Anthony Taikato has never been one to back down from a challenge.

Diagnosed with a learning difficulty and autism at a young age, the 19-year-old has since gone on to achieve a growing list of both personal and professional milestones.

He recently marked 18 months since joining the ranks at Garstone Design Furniture in Carole Park after taking up work as a labourer on the production line.

It was partly thanks to the hardworking team at APM Goodna, an employment and disability job services program, that the teen was able to secure employment.

Ultimately, it was Mr Taikato’s long time passion for hands-on work that landed him the job.

Prior to joining the team, he often endured an hours-long commute to a local TAFE - a bike, train, and bus ride all before 7am - in order to complete a Certificate I in Construction.

Director of Garstone Design James Bannerman says Anthony is a star employee.

Director of Garstone Design James Bannerman says Anthony is a star employee.

Mr Taikato said his love for woodwork was first realised after undertaking regular classes throughout high school.

“I started at school, I really like doing hands on work, like with timber. I’ve been doing it at school since Grade 8 to 12,” he said.

It would appear his kind and at times cheeky personality has also served him well among his current workmates.

“It’s not too bad here, there’s some days that are better than others but that’s life,” Mr Taikato said.

“I’m friends with nearly everyone, I work with most of the people here.

“I try my best which is important.”

Some favourite tasks include cutting foam for countless new lounges, as well as inserting springs into the frames.

“I just help out with anyone who needs help, I get told to this and this. I help out wherever I can.”

Anthony Taikato with APM support work Kim.

Anthony Taikato with APM support work Kim.

While his professional achievements are impressive, his personal goals are worthy of equal recognition.

Mr Taikato only recently moved out of home for the first time and purchased a new 2008 Toyota Yaris, which he now uses for his daily commute to work.

“I’m just starting to save to get myself a house which will take a while, but that’s why I’m starting to save now,” he said.

“I feel accomplished, I felt really happy when I got all of my goals completed.”

APM Goodna support worker Kim. who has worked with the teen for about a year, said she admired Mr Taikato’s zest for life.

“We’ve worked closely for a while now and he’s always been proactive,” she said.

“He’s got the skill, whatever it is, he just knows what he’s doing so we really pushed to look for some work that involved woodwork.

“He wanted this. He put in the work and he did it, and he’s still smiling.”