Lifestyle

Sharnae talks about her marriage to Jimmy


Love On The Spectrum, a show about young autistic adults navigating relationships, has captured Australians’ hearts.

As soon as I saw Jimmy I knew.

When I spotted him sitting at the table at a post-school program [to support adults with disabilities], I turned to my best friend and said: “That man is mine!” We had so much in common.

We both loved musicals (especially The Greatest Showman) and we loved to sing. Now we sing together.

On our first date we went to see the film Fantastic Beasts. We both loved it. But what I remember most is that we held hands the whole time. We both had pins and needles in our arms, but we didn’t let go because we both thought that holding hands was what we were supposed to do on a date.

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Because when you have autism, you can often take things literally.

Communication can also be difficult. It helps that we are both on the spectrum because we understand each other. We both have occupational and speech therapy to help us communicate better.

It takes us a little bit longer to get there sometimes, but we are improving a lot. In some ways, us both being on the spectrum makes our relationship a lot less complicated. We don’t argue much. We just say what we have to say and move on.

The main reason we went on the show was to educate people about autism, and to show people that you can have a relationship when you have autism. We get recognised a lot now, which is great because I have always wanted to be a star!

Recently we had a guy run up to us in a shopping centre car park. He said: “I watch the show and you guys are such an inspiration. My son has autism.”

It’s good to know that for parents who are struggling [with young children who have been diagnosed with autism], we show them that things do get better. I know I had doubts that I would ever get married. It was hard but I never gave up.

I waited for him to come to me, and he did.

That’s why my wedding day was so emotional. I cried a lot. But they were happy tears. I felt so much joy walking down the aisle. I was just thinking: “This is really happening.”

Then it hit me: “Holy moly, all my dreams are coming true. I have found my true love.”

I have dreamed of getting married since I was a little girl. My parents have so much love for each other; I wanted that, too. They have supported me and Jimmy so much. We live independently in a unit below my mum and dad’s place so we can get support when we need it. They are great parents.

Mum came with Jimmy and I when we went on a dream holiday to America. And she was there when I picked out my wedding dress. I tried on a few before finding the right one. I tried on a real Cinderella dress, but it was too itchy.

People with autism can have sensory stuff to deal with. So it was important that I found the dress that not only looked perfect but felt perfect, too.

I decided to carry sunflowers because they are my favourite flower and my favourite colour – yellow. I am just a happy person, really. I am always cheerful. And I am always making people laugh, even though I don’t know why sometimes.

I make Jimmy laugh. And he makes me laugh, too. It’s one of the things I love about him. I love everything about him. We are made for each other.

5 things you should know about life on the spectrum

According to Autism Awareness Australia founder Nicole Rogerson.

  1. No two autistic people present in the same way.
  2. Sensory issues can make dealing with loud noise or crowded places overwhelming.
  3. It is a spectrum disorder, which means the symptoms range from mild to severe.
  4. Autism is strongly genetic. Families with one child with autism are more likely to have another child with autism when compared to the general population.
  5. Autism comes with challenges. It also comes with strengths, such as attention to detail, memory and honesty, which makes for great employees in some industries.

For more tips and support, see autismawareness.com.au

The season 2 finale of Love On The Spectrum airs at 8.30pm on Tuesday on the ABC.