For Brisbane mother Jody, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has opened the door to a world of opportunities for son Michael, 9, who has multiple disabilities and complex support needs.
“Michael has an unbalanced translocation, he is profoundly deaf with global development delay and physical impairment and epilepsy,” Jody said.
“He has got a lovely character and a fabulous disposition.”
“With the NDIS we can look at the things which are important and donate more time and resources towards that. For us the most important thing is Michael, so we can focus on him and his therapies without worrying about where the money is coming from.
“It takes the limitations off us in terms of what we can access to support Michael.”
Michael’s goals involve increasing his communication skills, his physical capacity and developing his daily living skills.
“I try to look every year at what is most important to us for Michael.”
“Communication, learning to read and write – these things can open the world up to Michael. He is non-verbal but if he can sign, type or write he can communicate with you.”
“These things are important for him moving towards being self-sufficient.”
To achieve these goals, Michael regularly takes part in a number of funded activities including physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.
Due to a lack of regular funding in the past, the family had paid for these supports in full since 2015.
“As much as we could afford financially we have done ourselves. We have always been accessing all the therapies, but now we can up the level of the support.”
“Where once we could afford to do physio once a month we can now do once a week.”
“It is a game changer. For someone like Michael who learns through repetition it’s important.”
Funding has also been made available for Michael to attend intensive therapy programs, which have proved instantly beneficial.
“The progress after a few weeks is great. Michael is now self-feeding, and able to spoon feed himself as a result of the intensive sessions.”
Alongside therapies, the family have been allocated funding for a support worker to help Michael with self-care and to learn daily living tasks.
Additional funding is utilised to employ a Deaf Mentor, who teaches the family Auslan and educates them about the Deaf community.
“She brings a wealth of knowledge, as well as helping us understand the challenges the Deaf community face.
“We always wanted Michael to feel that Auslan is an accepted language and that we are all involved in it with him.”
Michael attends public school, which is home to a dedicated hearing impairment unit.
Many of the teachers are proficient in sign language, and the school has adapted the curriculum to suit Michael’s specific learning needs.
“He finishes his fourth year there now and in that time he has learned to sign.”
“His receptive sign is exceptional, they can sign to him and tell him what they want or what they are doing and he understands.
“He is also learning to sight read. He can read 100 words and is now signing those words, learning simple words and engaging with maths.”
Jody says she feels incredibly appreciative of the support she now receives for Michael.
“We are incredibly appreciative of the NDIS for making this support available to us.
“Being able to access supports that can improve Michael’s quality of life and give him opportunities for his future makes us feel very blessed.”
Jody and Michael are supported on their NDIS journey by Kirri White, a Local Area Coordinator (LAC) at Carers Queensland’s NDIS LAC office in Lutwyche.