The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has been progressively rolled out around Australia over the last few years. It is a scheme designed to provide individuals with disabilities the support they need to live a life that is purposeful, fulfilling and as independent as possible. Here in Toowoomba, the NDIS started at the beginning of this year and it has been an interesting journey for us all.
Prior to the NDIS, Dan had been granted some disability support funding but it was limited. We were able to get Dan into some group activities at Yellow Bridge, but for the most part, wherever I went, Dan went and wherever Dan went, I had to go too. And this is the way it would probably have continued, well forever.
The NDIS has changed Dan’s life
But the NDIS has brought a significant change to Dan’s life, as well as our own. The transition process was definitely quite stressful as we negotiated the paperwork and planning conversation, however his funding package has allowed us to set goals we thought would be a long way off. Dan has continued to participate in the group activities he enjoys so much, like cooking, singing and dancing, bowling and making music. He has also been able to have some one/one support to pursue his favourite activities, like swimming and bush running.
For so long I have been Dan’s major support and carer. As parents caring for a child with special needs, we don’t stop to think about all the assisting, prompting, supervising and decision making we do. We have done it for so long, it is just a natural part of our life. It can be difficult to even conceive how life could be any different.
A different way of thinking
The NDIS has brought about a change in thinking. Suddenly, I can go places or do things without Dan having to tag along. Dan has the opportunity to participate in activities that regular guys do, without having to have his mother tag along. Over the last month, Dan has gone to a disco, been camping, and had a movies and pizza night with mates – all perfectly normal things – with the help of a support worker, who is probably far cooler than his mother.
It feels a bit strange though. It was really weird when Dan went camping. The house was so quiet. Instead of prompting Dan through every step of the night routine, I could relax, watch TV, read a book, and all the while, Dan was having a ball with his mates at Cressbrook Dam. The next morning I didn’t have to get out of bed at 6am to take Dan to the toilet. I could sleep in. It was so unbelievably quiet.
On Thursday Dan is going to Dreamworld on the Gold Coast for a Christmas break up with Yellow Bridge. For the first time, I am not going with him. It’s not that I don’t like spending time with Dan. I do. It’s not that I don’t like Dreamworld either. It’s time for me to start stepping back. And the NDIS has allowed me to do that. Dan will go with a support worker and probably have way more fun on the rides than with me. Besides, how many 21 year old young men go to Dreamworld with their mother.
I am starting to wonder what the future might hold for Dan and us. It will be strange when my days are no longer filled with transporting, prompting, assisting and supervising. At the same time, I look forward to it. Of course I will miss Dan terribly when he is no longer living with us, but it is only right and proper that he have his own life. And that would not be possible without the NDIS.