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Michael Cooke, 22, has Asperger syndrome and lives at home with his parents and three brothers in Manchester. He works at an arts centre a few evenings a week and likes playing football.
'I ended up having a home tutor instead of going to school, which I really enjoyed because she listened to me'
"I am an events/front of house assistant at Sale Waterside Arts Centre. I take tickets, work on the bar and help customers. My job is marvellous. I like mixing with all the staff and socialising. I get on well with everyone. It’s only a few evening shifts and I’d like to work full days as I'd like more to do. I’ve been there for around six months."
"I live with my family: my mum, dad and three younger brothers. I love living at home, but it can be noisy with my brothers. In my spare time I play on my Xbox, go walking in the country with my Nan, and help my mum at home by cleaning and vacuuming.
"I meet my friends when I go out and play football regularly. I also go to Aspirations, which is a group that provides social opportunities and support for people with Asperger syndrome. I have a lot of friends there."
"I found my job through Trafford Supported Employment, a job-matching service run by the charity United Response.
"Sometimes I find using the tills at work difficult. When I started my job, Laura and Gemma, my coaches from the charity, helped me to learn the tills. Now if I get stuck, a member of staff lends me a hand. At first I was shown what to do – somebody pressed the buttons and I copied. But now I'm given instructions."
"When I was at school I was a bit hyper and I didn’t go that much. It wasn’t my sort of environment. I didn’t like it. I felt like there was always a teacher watching over you. In the end, I had a home tutor instead of going to school, which I really enjoyed because she listened to me.
"I did like college, though. I went to Loreto College in Manchester. You could have your own space there, and you were treated like an adult.
"I would like to have a full-time job at somewhere like B&Q. I did a placement there not long ago and really liked it. I would just like to be working full-time, to keep busy."
Find out about living with autism, including getting a diagnosis for autism, the help available, and the experiences of people with the condition.
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