All 17-year-old Luke Fuller needed was to be given a chance.
CHANGING tyres and learning the routine of a repair workshop in Noosaville has transformed the life of 17-year-old Luke Fuller.
As his mother Maribel Thomas says, since scoring a traineeship at Jax Quickfit Tyres, her son Luke has been "over the moon".
Despite Luke being a high functioning person with Aspergers syndrome, growing up and fitting in with school routines, especially when you are prone to high anxiety, was tough on Luke and his family.
In fact earlier in his education, Luke, a middle child of three, was incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) at an education centre in New South Wales and was subjected to the stuff of nightmares.
"He was really mistreated," said Maribel, who is a nurse.
Once the family moved to the Coast and he was attending Sunshine Beach State High, Luke's autistic traits were recognised and properly diagnosed.
Maribel has nothing but praise for the Sunshine Beach High which helped him through a special learning program with one teacher "taking Luke under his wing" and teaching him to surf.
While pondering a career for Luke, Maribel remembered he had been exceptionally good with Bionicle Lego models. So it was no surprise that he wanted to try mechanical work.
"I called tyre stores to ask if Luke could work voluntarily to make sure it was the profession he wanted," she said.
Nobody returned her calls, until she rang Jax at Noosaville industrial estate. She was upfront about Luke's condition, but owners Craig and Camille Morrison were happy to speak to them. Luke was taken on for work experience, but said they were not hiring at that point.
"After two weeks they offered him a traineeship," she said.
The clincher had been Maribel organising a wage subsidy from Epic Employment Service in Noosaville which specialises in helping people with disabilities get work.
"He's made new friends and he's coming home really happy from work," she said.
Luke hopes to have found a career.
"I'm enjoying it here, it really interesting work. I hope to stay on here," he said.
Camille said Luke was more than earning his keep.
"He's the keenest person I know," she said.