A Mid North Coast couple are proving love knows no boundaries when it comes to connection.
Port Macquarie's Brett Wagstaff and Forster resident Ellie Mugiven sometimes experience difficulties with social interaction and non-verbal communication.
Ms Mugiven has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome (AS) and it's believed Mr Wagstaff also has the syndrome, though he's never received an official diagnosis.
According to Autism Spectrum Australia, a Deakin University study found autistic individuals have a similar level of interest in relationships as non-autistic people but have fewer opportunities to meet potential new partners.
Mr Wagstaff and Ms Mugiven connected through Special Olympics Australia and formed a strong companionship.
"She's a beautiful, intelligent and very motivated woman," Mr Wagstaff said.
They've now been together for three years.
"It's changed my life a lot because it's made me more mature and confident in myself," Mr Wagstaff said.
"I'm very thankful for everything."
Ms Mugiven said thanks to the relationship she's been able to overcome some fears, such as flying on an plane.
She described Mr Wagstaff as caring and a really nice guy.
Mr Wagstaff and Ms Mugiven travelled to Bali together, along with Mr Wagstaff's family.
Despite her initial hesitation about the trip, Ms Mugiven didn't want to leave Bali when it came time to return home.
"Once I got over there I was fine and I was really happy," she said.
"I learnt how to surf, went horse riding and scuba diving."
Mr Wagstaff loves to keep busy in the community and enrols in courses to progress his education.
He's also an active volunteer for various community groups, including Friends of Kooloonbung and Willing and Able Foundation.
Brett's mum Leanne said life hasn't always been easy for her son but she's proud of the way he's sought to overcome challenges.
Leanne still worries about him.
"Especially when he goes out and he's not home, I always think the worse," she said.
"He's still vulnerable and easily influenced."
Growing up Mr Wagstaff said he never felt different from other children.
"They treated me as though I was equal, as one," he said.
"I did have a lot of behavioural issues but then as I got older with the right medication and social support, I just grew out of the childish and angry behaviour."
He likes to have a structured routine, keeps his bedroom tidy and enjoys doing word puzzles.
Mr Wagstaff can sometimes find day to day tasks such as shopping challenging, as he finds it difficult to process financial exchanges.
"I get anxious at times at various things," he said.
There are plans to establish a local dating event to help people who have disabilities connect with others.
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