teal background with group of pokemon characters with autism awareness logo
14 Mar

Ricky and the Australian Pokemon Community

This month we catch up with business entrepreneur, Ricky, and we discuss his recent autism diagnosis at age 34 and about his Australian Pokemon Community Group and the work they are doing to help charities.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself. 

My name is Ricky and I am 35 years old. I have four children. My son is 14, and my daughters are 7, 6 and 4. I am a primary school teacher who is passionate about Pokemon, rugby league and fishing.

You recently received an autism diagnosis, tell us what were the steps you took towards getting a diagnosis?

After teaching many children on the spectrum and doing some research, I strongly believed that I was autistic. All the doctors I spoke to rejected the idea, and turned me away. I have a friend who was recently diagnosed, and she gave me the details of a clinical Psychologist who she recommended. I booked an appointment with them to do the ADOS (Autism Diagnosis Observation Schedule). To ensure I was seen promptly, I had to go privately and pay, but it was well worth it. The process was done over three separate sessions in a 2 month period. Consequently, I was diagnosed with Level 2 ASD, on top of my previous diagnoses of Depression, Anxiety and ADHD

What was it like receiving a diagnosis as an adult and how has it influenced you in everyday life?

Honestly, it was a relief. When I was first given the news, I cried straight away. It felt like for the first time, someone had actually listened to me and took me seriously. I have always known I was different, and had always struggled to fit and make/keep friends. This finally gave me an answer. But it was a long and continuous process of acceptance. Every day, things that have happened in the past that I could never make sense of finally made sense. My life felt like it was a million piece puzzle, with pieces scattered all over the place. And everyday, a few pieces would start to come together. 

I believe that it has influenced me in a positive way. I now know that the majority of my struggles in the past were due to being on the spectrum, not just because I was inferior as a person. I am very open about my autism and diagnosis, and enjoy teaching people about the condition, tolerance and understanding.

Pokemon, we just love this for so many reasons, tell our readers where the business idea comes from and the services it offers its followers. And what is your role in the business?

I had a friend I had met online through Pokemon requesting me to be an admin with him and one of his mates in a Pokemon Facebook Group. The idea was to create fun, safe space for people to buy/sell/trade Pokemon, learn more about it, have cards graded and raise funds for charities that are close to our hearts. We run daily raffles and also do free giveaways. Our goal was to make a group for the Australian Pokemon Community.

As an admin, my role includes just about everything. From accepting members, to running giveaways, to sending cards overseas to be graded.

What are your aspirations for APC? What’s next? 

Just yesterday we reached the halfway mark for our goal, raising over $5000 for Autism Awareness Australia. Our goal is to raise twice as much, but in the longterm I would really love to raise as much as we possibly can. Outside of APC, I am exploring the idea of running my own business. The idea is to create social events for children/teens on the spectrum, where they can talk about/discuss/trade/play Pokemon in a positive, friendly and nurturing environment where they may engage socially with others if they chose to do so.

Gotta ask, what’s your favourite Pokemon card/character and why? 

My absolute favourite Pokemon is Mimikyu. Mimikyu is a fairy/ghost type Pokemon, who lives its life under a costume it has made. Each Mimikyu has made a costume to try and resemble Pikachu. It has done this as an attempt to make friends, as it realises that everyone loves Pikachu. Unfortunately, Mimikyu cannot be seen without its costume on. According to lore, only one person has ever seen Mimikyu's true identity. They were so mortified by what they saw the they died.

I loved Mimikyu prior to finding out I was on the spectrum. The reason I adore Mimikyu so much is that it reminds me of myself. I feel like I have always had to wear a mask to fit in as well.

For more information you can follow APC or search Facebook for ‘Australian Pokemon Community’. 

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