Not just someone with a disability

“We’ve always been happy with what Leisure Networks have done for us,” says Rita, Alex’s sister. Alex has been with our Support Coordination team for about four years now. He is 26 and is non-verbal with high needs autism.

As a child and a youth, Alex attended special school. After he left school, the family found it difficult to find adult Alex somewhere to spend his time and belong.

“Thankfully we got paired with Kiara who point us in the right direction for day programs for adults because that’s what we were really struggling with, explains Rita.  “We found that for younger people, there are a lot of services out there, but then for the older ones, there’s not so much.”

Alex started attending a day centre, but the family felt it wasn’t really the right fit for him. Because of his high needs, the service wasn’t able to support his behaviour. Which in turn meant that Alex wasn’t able to fully participate, and he was only attending the day centre for short days.

“He wasn’t getting very much out of it at all,” Rita tells us. “We found his behaviour was getting quite hard to manage. We spoke to Kiara about it, and she was able to give us some ideas about different areas we could look into for him, like whether we get him a support worker or just change his day centre to suit his needs more.

“We were able to find him a day centre that works specifically with clients who have autism and, from when he was going 9 to 12 a couple of days a week, he now goes 9 – 3 and attends three days a week. We’re looking at possibly picking up an extra day for him because he’s loving it. He’s now able to socialise with other clients, he gets out and about in the community, he’s able to be himself basically … he’s now able to be Alex and explore what that is.”

Since starting at Aspect’s Adult Community Services, Alex has begun to learn some signs and some sounds to help him communicate. Which is helping to give him more independence and autonomy.

“He’s trying more, because he knows he’s being supported and listened to. It means he’s more willing to give things a go.”

Now that Alex is happier where he is, and he’s able to stay at the day centre longer it has given his parents some respite and time to do more with their own lives.

“They’re able to do things, Alex is coming home calm and happy.  And he’s actually coming home tired, which is good because he’s obviously being stimulated. He’s using all that energy in having a good day out at his day centre, where before he was quite heightened.

“So we’re really grateful for all the hard work Kiara put into that and obviously the other support coordinators we’ve worked with. Kiara has put out all the right feelers and tried to match us up with people who would understand Alex and understand his needs and be able to pick up where she’s left off.

“As a family of someone who does have such high needs, it’s nice to know that there’s someone in his corner, who are willing to push for what he needs and it’s not just a job for them. It’s not just a job, they want to help and they want to make a difference. It’s nice knowing that.”

During this period, Kiara was promoted to team leader at Leisure Networks and Alex’s family transitioned to a new support coordinator.

“Because Kiara worked so closely with Alex, she was able to fill them in on his needs and where she had got to with him,” says Rita.

“Because Kiara was able to match us up with a support coordinator that she felt would be a good fit for Alex, it’s always been a very smooth process and a very smooth transition. We always know that someone will get back to us, if they can’t speak to us straight away, and they always take our concerns and our questions seriously and do everything they can to support us and Alex.

“It’s not just Alex that they are supporting, I know that is also us that they are supporting. And even over COVID, just checking in to make sure we were all OK and safe. So the communication has always been fantastic.”

“It has been so nice to have Alex recognised as the person he is, not just someone with a disability.”

Leisure Networks respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of Australia. We are committed to inclusive communities.