OUR FAMILY CONSISTS OF: WARREN (DAD) 53, LAURA (MUM) 49, CLAY 16 AND ALLY 14.
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
We live in a sleepy little fishing village called Lota on the bayside of Brisbane.
WHAT IS YOUR CHILD’S DIAGNOSIS?
Our son, Clay is autistic and has ADHD, GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) and SPD.
WHAT LED TO THE DIAGNOSIS?
When Clay was a baby he originally had difficulty transitioning to solids. This began a process of investigations involving a speech therapist, an OT and a paediatrician resulting in his diagnosis when he was two years old back in 2004.
IS YOUR CHILD IN SCHOOL? HOW ARE THEY DOING/HOW ARE THEY SUPPORTED?
Clay is in Year 11 at a mainstream school with support from an SEP. He has also completed three Certificate courses including one at TAFE in Retail Baking Assistant.
WHAT THERAPIES DOES YOUR CHILD DO? DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS/TRICKS FOR FITTING THERAPY INTO YOUR LIFE?
Currently Clay is not accessing any therapy, but this will change when we apply for his NDIS plan. Throughout his life with his therapy goals and through his school IEPs we have always firstly supported Clay’s anxiety and looked at ways to help him with his social skills. This has always been the main focus for us. We put no emphasis on his academic performance and he’s thriving this way. My husband, Warren, and I have learned not to put limitations on Clay because, without fail, he always exceeds them.
WHAT CURRENT GOALS DOES YOUR CHILD OR YOUR FAMILY HAVE?
Our family goals are pretty simple; we want to see both our kids become independent and then we can leech off them (joke!). Clay says that his dream is to be a V8 Supercar driver for Redbull Racing Australia. He has a huge love of Supercars and an amazing recall for facts and figures. He can tell you who poled, who had a podium finish and which driver drives for which team!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH SOMEONE STARTING OUT ON THE SPECIAL NEEDS JOURNEY?
I’d tell them to remember that as you start the journey, your child is the same one that you loved before you got the diagnosis, nothing has changed in this respect.
Also, there is so much to be gained from adults who have the same diagnosis as your child. Seek out adults, listen to what they have to say and learn from them.
AND WHAT’S THE MOST ANNOYING, UNHELPFUL OR STRANGE ADVICE YOU’VE EVEN BEEN GIVEN?
Like many others in our situation, we are constantly on the receiving end of unhelpful advice. I usually just ask myself, what are the intentions of the person(s) giving the advice. I find that generally people are just wanting to be helpful so I usually just shrug things off. If the ‘advice’ or comment is coming from a place of ignorance, then I kindly and gently advocate and try to turn it into a teaching moment.
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR YOU TIME?
I have only recently learned the value of putting myself first and looking after my own mental health. I know now that if I do some sort of daily exercise, then my head is in a good place and my own anxiety is manageable.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE?
I would like to see a future that includes many more educational and employment opportunities for the disabled. For me, it’s not important whether these opportunities are inclusive or supported, what is important is that there is choice and different options available to suit all levels of ability.
WE WOULD NEVER MANAGE WITHOUT THE FOLLOWING…
PRODUCTS WE LOVE:
We would never manage without chew toys and no-tie elastic shoelaces. Both have helped with protecting clothing and the elastic shoelaces have given Clay independence.
PEOPLE (OR BUSINESSES) WE LOVE:
Over the years we have been supported by many amazing businesses. Most recently Clay completed the Steps For Success program offered by Abundance College. It played a big part in helping him start his amazing bin cleaning business Clay Needs No Moulding cleaning local wheelie bins with non-toxic, biodegradable products. The business is doing so well that Clay has now hired a school mate to help meet growing demand!