“We were made for each other”
The Australian Women's Weekly|June 2021
When Jimmy and Sharnae made their debut on ABC docuseries Love on the Spectrum in 2019, viewers fell head over heels for the couple. Now, as they celebrate becoming husband and wife, they invite The Weekly into their inner sanctum.
CAT RODIE

It was 11.30 in the morning and the Charlestown Square shopping centre was bustling with activity when Sharnae Furner arrived for her first date with Jimmy Berresford back in November, 2017.

Nervous but excited, Sharnae had spent the morning trying on different outfits and rehearsing things to say. She was also 30 minutes early. Having brought her mum, Gayle, for support, the duo sat to enjoy a hot chocolate in the cinema cafe while passing the time. Scanning the faces of other cinemagoers in the foyer, Sharnae spotted Jimmy – also anxiously arriving half an hour early – at the top of the stairs.

In any other situation you’d assume that the pair would have taken the initiative to start the date early. But for Jimmy and Sharnae, who are both on the autism spectrum, the thought simply never occurred to them.“I was going to arrive on time,” Jimmy states of why he stayed where he was until 12 noon.

Later, as they took their seats in the cinema, the young couple grasped hands across the armrest; a position they held for the entire film, despite the pins and needles and numb arms.

“I’d never been on a date before; I thought that’s just what you do. I thought it was normal,” Sharnae says, before confessing that they also shared their first kiss later that evening. It turned out to be the start of a beautiful love story.

Viewers of ABC’s Love on the Spectrum, an acclaimed docuseries following a group of young people as they search for love and navigate romantic relationships, were first introduced to Jimmy and Sharnae back in 2019.

And hearts melted when, in the final episode, Jimmy got down on one knee to pop the question to his girlfriend of two-and-a-half years.

Needless to say, when producers were casting the second season, a catch-up with Jimmy and Sharnae was high on their list. And they were just in time to capture the love and romance of their wedding, which took place in late January this year.

As the series gets set to return later this month, the newly-married duo invited The Weekly over to pore over their wedding photos and catch up on what life has been like in the time since we last saw them.

As we convene in Gayle’s backyard on the NSW Central Coast, the conversation is lively – and, most of all, loving. Both now 23, Jimmy and Sharnae are not remotely shy about expressing their love for each other, often flooring me with the sheer depth of their feelings. It’s something, Gayle says, that is part and parcel of autism. “Neurotypicals often envy their honesty, raw emotions and genuine love of each other,” she tells me.

It all started, Sharnae recalls, at a school-leavers’ program at the local Job Centre late in 2017. “I saw him sitting across the table and I just knew,” she says. “I nudged my friend and pointed him out. I was thinking, ‘There’s my man’.”

In other words, it was love at first sight, at least as far as Sharnae is concerned.

For Jimmy the relationship was more of a slow burn. First they started to socialise together; later he noticed the way she made him feel.

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