Please give generously to Disability Services Australia with a donation towards services like those that have been such a help to James and his family.
“I can tell by the way James gets out of the car he likes being there,” says his dad Bill. “He bounces out of his seat! One morning he got so excited he jumped up and head-butted me in the nose.”
James attends our Day Options Program in Bankstown in Sydney. He is non-verbal but his enthusiasm when he is dropped off every weekday is the best possible indication of his enjoyment!
To know James has found a place where he is happy and on the path to gradually becoming more independent as a young adult is a joy to his parents Bill and Sharon too. When James finished high school, they were dreading the future for their son. “We felt absolutely traumatised,” says Sharon. “There were 100 things to worry about.”
James was born with a very rare condition called Ring Chromosome 22 that causes severe disability. Until he was nine months old his parents thought he was just small like them. But on a routine visit to the baby nurse she said, ‘This little boy isn’t doing things he should be doing,’ ” remembers Bill. “He had blood tests and that’s when we found out. It was probably the biggest kick in the guts I’ve ever got in my life.”
Now 22, James needs around-the-clock care. “He can’t get things out of the cupboard or turn TVs on or go to the toilet on his own,” says Bill. But he still has a boundless passion for life and the things he loves – like swimming, the footy, having a birthday party, listening to music and watching James Bond movies.
With James’s very high, complex and specific needs, his parents were understandably concerned about where he could go when he transitioned from high-school. As autistic traits are also part of his disability, he is extremely dependent on structure and routine.
When they found out about the support for James at the Disability Services Australia Day Options Program in Bankstown, they were incredibly relieved.
Our Day Options Programs run from 14 locations in NSW and create social, therapeutic and recreational opportunities designed for each person around their goals, interests, ideas and support needs. The centre at Bankstown specifically assists people with autism, providing consistent routines, an environment designed specifically for people with autism and encouraging communication skills. At the same time there are plenty of outlets for fun that match with the many things James loves – like listening to music, swimming, getting outdoors and dancing.
When James arrives each morning, he knows exactly what he wants to do! “He comes in and goes straight into the music room and indicates he would like you to help him turn the radio on,” says Support Worker Tan Nguyen.
This may not sound very important – but for someone like James it is a crucial milestone.
One of the main goals listed by his parents and now established as part of James’s person centred support plan is developing his communication methods using pictures and photos. By guiding a support worker to something he wants, James is a step closer to being able to give input into his own day-to-day activities, opening up the chance for him to have greater self-determination and freedom.
Another key goal for James is accessing activities in his local community including swimming. He is making new discoveries all the time, trying activities and experiences that not only add variety and spice to his life but stimulate his progress.
His parents have noticed positive changes at home. Thanks to the Day Options Program, “James has a chance to be a bit more independent, within limits of course,” says Sharon. “I’m sure that’s improved him. He’s grown up since he’s been there. He interacts a lot better with people – even with my two daughters’ boyfriends, he wants to talk to them and will have more eye contact.”
Thanks to our other caring donors, Disability Services Australia can continue providing support for 2,000 people with a disability across NSW, working to see them have every possible opportunity to reach their personal goals and enjoy choice, inclusion and achievement at home, work and within the community.
Please help us with a donation that will bring real joy and hope to thousands like James.