The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been life-changing for Sandie Gill’s family, giving her 12-year-old son Joel formal support systems for the first time in his life and allowing Sandie to return to work and join the Carers Queensland Logan team as a Local Area Coordinator for the NDIS.
Joel, who has autism, is passionate about the outdoors, whether it be going to the beach, camping, fishing or climbing. He has come a long way from the days when going to school was a struggle with the anxiety of noise of the classroom or being in a big group of people.
“He would hide under the tables and nearly every day I’d get a phone call to come and pick him up,” Sandie said.
Joel’s challenges often impacted daily life for the family. Sandie and her husband took shifts to supervise him at night as he would only sleep for one hour.
Prior to the NDIS, Sandie and her husband had no formal supports, once turning to the mental health unit at Lady Cilento Hospital on occasion when the situation became unmanageable.
“We didn’t have anywhere to turn to for support, we’d lost all our friends and financially it was hard on one income because every time I got work, I had to leave because I couldn’t maintain the hours and look after Joel as well,” Sandie said.
With the advent of the NDIS in her region, through NDIS partner Carers Queensland, Sandie developed a set of goals around behavioural management and coping strategies for Joel.
Joel now receives funding towards a variety of supports which complement each other, including occupational therapy, psychology and support workers to help him to be part of the community.
Joel is now able to attend school four days a week and, on Fridays, go out into the community with a support worker. This is a routine that is approved by his school and best suits his individual needs.
“Having a support worker on a Friday has allowed us to return to work full-time.
“These only seem like little things but they are huge things to us, we are going on our first holiday in years to Bali in February.”
Sandie and her husband believe the future is bright for Joel, and they are confident that in a couple of years he will be attending mainstream classes at the same level as other children his age.
Sandie’s lived experience as a carer and her own NDIS journey with her son is now enabling her to assist other NDIS participants to develop plans that have a positive impact on their lives.