“My name is Peter Ashley Lindner, and I am married with two happy kids, Louie, who is 12 and Georgia, who is six.
I was born Autistic with what used to be called ‘Aspergers Syndrome’; however, I went undiagnosed until the age of 51. Unfortunately, Australia didn’t know much about autism in the 1970s, and it has been a difficult life mentally. Asperger’s is a hidden disability, and to compensate, ‘Aspies’ acquire, over a lifetime, a great capacity for ‘masking’ their idiosyncrasies and social difficulties. But when the faux pas and idiosyncrasies are revealed to the herd, rejection and humiliation are par for the course. Statistically, autistic people are more likely to be bullied as children.
In a previous job I worked with a bully, dealing with daily harassment and abuse and several flare-ups. Because of my Asperger’s, I couldn’t shut down thinking about this after work hours. As a result, my mental health suffered.
I suffered from an emotional breakdown, and cycling was a way for me to be away from people and exercise. So every morning, I rode from Rapid Creek to Coolalinga, then to Darwin City and back to Rapid Creek.
When the cyclone council hard rubbish collection commenced, I started noticing bicycles that had been thrown out that I could fix-up. So I started doing that, selling them to supplement our income. Eventually, too many bicycles were at home, and my wife asked me to rent a storage shed. But, two sheds later, I am now a registered business – THE BIKE ORPHANAGE.
With mechanical assistance from our bike technician, Paul, it’s going well. People are getting behind the idea of recycling bikes, and there is a niche market, as not everyone wants to or can afford brand new bikes. I have donated bikes, trikes and bike trailers to disabled services organisations and to Elcho Island Mums on Bikes.
In the long term, I would like to help other Autistic people set up similar workshops in other parts of Australia, where proceeds are donated to Dolly’s Dream or other charities. This is a way for autistic people to work autonomously yet assiduously without being bullied for their idiosyncrasies.”
Ash generously donates $500 per month to Dolly’s Dream from THE BIKE ORPHANAGE and we are so grateful that this enables us to continue to support rural and regional communities with our anti-bullying initiatives.