Arjuna Wauchope, aged 21, has always dreamed of becoming a mechanic.

But due to anxiety he suffers as part of his autism, Mr Wauchope had trouble making his dream a reality.

Thanks to an inclusive training program in Meadowbrook, Wheelnutz Garage, Mr Wauchope is on the road to success.

Wheelnutz was established by Gold Coast couple Gavin McCarthy and Jade Burgmann in their home garage in 2020.

Now operating from Logan, the NDIS provider offers a mechanics program for people aged up to 67 years and a junior mechanics program for children aged six to 12.

Both programs aim to build participants’ capacities, whether to pursue their interest in cars or to gain paid employment, within the automotive industry.

Manager Shannon McCarthy said Wheelnutz gave Mr Wauchope not only the skills, but also the confidence, to gain paid employment.

“Arjuna and all those who attend thrive in the program, so do their carers and parents,” Ms McCarthy said.

Mr Wauchope now works with a diesel mechanic, maintaining trucks and excavators for a house removal business.

“I mostly work on the Mack trucks that transport the houses once they’re split up,” he said.

“Honestly, it means a lot to have found a job that I love.

“It’s opened up a whole bigger world of opportunities.

“It’s allowed me to buy a car – I can also afford to go out and socialise.’

Mr Wauchope said he had amazing support around him to help manage his anxiety.

“They’re the best anyone can get – from my NDIS support workers to the guys at Wheelnutz, a loving family and a great job, life doesn’t get any better,” he said.

“When I was younger, I was really anxious about everything.

“I had trouble staying on task, I couldn’t focus on anything for long.

“‘The anxiety levels would go up every time I went out, it was always a challenge.”

He said since the Wheelnutz program his anxiety “dropped away”.

His mum, Sarndra, said he had “come a long way” since starting the program.

‘Arjuna’s always wanted to be a diesel mechanic and now he’s on the path to getting there,’ she said.

“Arjuna has the right supports around him and that’s why he’s done so brilliantly.

“We’ve got two wonderful support workers who helped Arjuna transition into the workplace.

“They work to keep Arjuna moving forward – he’s come so far, it’s been incredible.”

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