Getting the Good Life Newsletter January 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We hope you all had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Isaac’s Christmas celebrations went for several weeks beginning with the annual trip to Hacket Music in the Park with Anthony.  Then we had Isaac’s staff Christmas party when we hired a minibus and drove out to the Cotter for a picnic and secret Santa.  We also invited the Beadle Place neighbours over and enjoyed sharing good food and conversation.  Lucy took us all on our traditional Christmas Lights tour and she had lined up some spectacluar lights yet again for us to marvel at.  On Christmas day we had a lovely time celebrating with Ben’s girlfriend and her family.

Although 2016 wasn’t so good for celebrities, it was amazing for Isaac thanks to his fabulous microboard members and other unpaid and paid supporters.

Our major achievements were

  • Helping Isaac to learn to present to an audience using technology
  • Beginning the process of enabling Isaac to move into a home of his own
  • Starting up a small business based around Isaac’s love of driving in the car and his skills in following a routine and carrying bags.
  • Recruiting a team of awesome support workers
  • Learning how to harness the NDIS to build a good life for Isaac
  • Giving Isaac the experience of being a University Student
  • Winning the ACT Chief Minister’s Award for Excellence in Innovation in Inclusion

On the home front

We farewelled Fitzy and Patrick from the house and we welcomed Shayne, Tina and Adrian.   We have also welcomed the arrival of 5 chickens and they have been growing fast.  They have been named Roxy, Usain Bolt, Mary Poopins, Bobby flash and Charlie.  We are looking forward to eggs on toast and being able to deliver eggs to our neighbours.  We have even designed our own egg label!

Savvy’s veggie patch is about to provide lots of veggies to share around the neighbourhood too.

We have had several gatherings with the neighbours and it feels good to be part of such a friendly neighbourhood.

Merlin the cat is also enjoying being part of life at Beadle Place.

Isaac Delivers

In 2016 year we concentrated on setting up our business processes and helping Isaac to learn the ropes.  He’s become a champion at carrying the bag, using his ipad to speak with the receptionist and going up to the Post Office doorbell to let them know he is ready and waiting to collect and deliver the mail.  Isaac is also collecting flowers from his friend Anthony’s garden and delivering them to Lyneham High School to brighten up their reception area.

This year we hope to find more clients to work with.  He doesn’t do one off deliveries.  This is because it helps Isaac to build friendships and get to know the routine which reduces his anxiety and helps him to be able to perform the job better.

If you think you know of a business that uses a post office box and would like to use Isaac’s Business let them know about our website and facebook page.

Isaac on a delivery run
Isaac on a delivery run

Isaac’s A Team

We welcomed an awesome team of support workers whom The Band has recruited.  Microboards Australia mentored us in the recruitment process and we now have a fabulous team:

Dan – Support Worker and Health & Safety/Assistive Technology Guru

Fiona – Support Worker and Isaac Delivers Manager

Josh – Support Worker

Jake – Fitness coach

Mary-Caitlin – Literacy coach

Manon – Support Worker and Social Connector

Tina – live in over night support worker and house mate

Christmas party with the A Team

Decision Support

We have also made a little ground on helping Isaac to become a decision maker.  Tina Dowse from ADACAS helped us to learn about supported decision making.  We are working with Isaac’s Dentist Dr Peter Wong on how we can support Isaac to understand the risks around dental surgery and help him to indicate if he consents or not to having a medical procedure.  We are doing this because we are unsure if Isaac has the capacity to understand or not and it would be terrible to take the choice and control away from him if he did have the capacity.  There is much more work to be done but we have started.

No More School

Isaac has now officially left school and it feels like the end of an era.  Isaac celebrated it at the School Formal where little birds tell me he was the best dressed guy in the room.  He also proudly received his certificate at the Presentation Night.

It’s been an interesting journey for Isaac and us, his family. In the beginning separate, specialist education settings were the only thing that seemed on offer to us.  We didn’t know that Isaac could attend an ordinary school.  His experience at these specialist schools was a good one – lots of talented and kind teachers but he was surrounded by other students with equal challenges who couldn’t provide him with good models on how to act and learn.  Nor could they afford Isaac the opportunities that come through friendship networks because of their own social isolation.

For the secondary years of his education we chose inclusive mainstream settings because we thought it important for Isaac to leave school with social capital – being known in his community and having friends that can support him in his life – and we have achieved that.  We also felt that Isaac would be surrounded by other students modelling how to learn and act and we saw lots of glimpses of that too – Isaac heading off to class unaided by any paid support workers, just surrounded by his class mates.  We also felt Isaac had lots to teach the other students that don’t have disabilities and his teachers and they have benefited from Isaac’s presence in their lives.

Thank you to all his teachers over the years, you have been very important in Isaac’s life and we are grateful for your help.  I hope Isaac has taught you something too.

Isaac and Cameron’s UnConvention

To kick off 2017, Isaac and his network of paid and unpaid supporters will be joining Cameron, his family and circle of friends at a retreat which we have called an UnConvention.  Here we will be doing some planning for 2017 and learning about some key topics that are important to Isaac and Cameron such as how to support them to have safe friendships, learning to communicate in social settings, promoting Isaac and Cameron as valued people, understanding behaviours that others can find challenging and more as well as participating in some fun activities.  Interested in attending – best get in quick as registrations close on Jan 6.  Read more about it and register here

We won two awards this year!

Isaac’s Band of Brothers & Sisters won the ACT Chief Ministers Inclusion Award for Excellence in Inclusion.  Our drumming club also won the runners up award for the best new club at the University of Canberra.

 

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The Good Life Newsletter October 2016

We are on the hunt for new Board Members

Like with all boards,  Isaac’s Band of Brothers & Sisters needs to be refreshed from time to time as existing members get busy and have to focus on other things.

So if you, or anyone you know would like to be on the board please let us know.  You can learn more about what’s involved here.

Our Annual General Meeting is also coming up on November 10.

Outgoing board members Rob and David
Outgoing board members Rob and David

Isaac votes in Federal Elections

Isaac’s family and friends with a keen interest in politics created some picture resources that we used to explain to him what some of the key policies each of the parties where focusing on.  Then we asked him to put the parties in order of which he liked the best.  We did this several times and on each occasion he picked a similar order.
We also developed an aided language board with pictures so that Isaac could answer the questions that the electoral commission staff would ask him.  On the day he did really well and answered all the questions and watched curiosly as I transferred his picture ordered vote onto the ballot paper.  He carried the ballot paper over to the ballot box to post his vote.

We are not sure if he really understood but we figured he would be no less well informed about his vote than many other people voting that day!

Learning about the parties in the election and what they stand for
Learning about the parties in the election and what they stand for

Cheering for the Raiders

Isaac has been a champion Canberra Raiders supporter this season.  He’s been learning to stay for the whole match, how to talk about the football with his PODD communication book, how to do the Viking clap and who the best team in the universe is – go Raiders!  Look out for him in the 2017 season.

Supporting the Canberra Raiders
Supporting the Canberra Raiders

Pizza and PODD

Every three months or so we are going do a Pizza and PODD night where we play games using Isaac’s PODD so that we can become more fluent in using it with Isaac.

We had a fun time playing PODD Bingo where we had to combine symbols to make sentences and work out what you could say and how you would say it on the PODD.

Playing PODD Bingo
Playing PODD Bingo

Supported Decision Making Training

Tina from ADACAS came along to provide Isaac’s microboard with some supported decision making training.  She helped us challenge the idea that we must know and understand everything to be able to make a valid decision.  Many of us just make decisions based on a gut feeling without really knowing all the pros and cons.  I know I didn’t understand all the fine print on my mortgage documents!

So it’s important for us as Isaac’s microboard members to assume that it is possible for Isaac to learn to make decisions and we must give him lots of opportunities to learn how.

decision-making
Supported decision making training

Beadlemania News

Isaac has been spending increasing amounts of time at his house – Beadlemania.  He is now spending every second Friday evening and Saturday with his housemates.  His eyes light up when we tell him he is going to stay at his house.  It’s so awesome to see him so happy to have time away from his parents and hang out with friends.  Such a different scenario to the days of going to respite care.

Sadly we have had to say goodbye to two house mates as they are moving on to other things but we now have Shane and are on the hunt for a fourth flatmate who will also have a paid role as a casual support worker .

The housemates have been busy in the garden putting in a community vegie patch.

Recent additions to the animal menagerie are some little baby chickens which we hope will all be girls and lay lots of eggs for Isaac and his housemates to eat and share with the neighbours.  You can follow the adventures of Isaac and his fellow Beadlemanians on Facebook.

Isaac had a fabulous 19th birthday party at Beadlemania with family, friends and housemates.  His cake was made by the mum of one of Isaac’s support workers and was a really big hit.

Isaac delivers has two paying customers

Isaac delivers is Isaac’s start up delivery business.  He now has two paying customers –  Marymead and Hire up.  He has a great new uniform which was kindly donated by The Uniform Shop at Kippax.  He continues to do his magazine run until he has no time to deliver them.

Isaac Delivers will provide a professional business delivering cost-effective and reliable services to its clients.  Through this business, Isaac will be seen as a worker who performs a legitimate, useful and valued role. Customers can expect a professional and reliable service.

Isaac enjoys working in his business – he loves driving in the car with the radio going and the regular routine of meeting people.  It’s a work role that is valued by people in the community and that helps him to be perceived by others as contributing and skilled rather than dependant and incapable.  It provides him with continued opportunities to learn and develop life skills.  He is also highly visible in the community which means that he has many people keeping an eye out for him and making sure he is safe.

Isaac in his new uniform
Isaac in his new uniform

We are raising money for a car

Isaac needs wheels for work!  Isaac Delivers will be more viable if we can buy him his own car and not have to pay a fuel allowance if his support workers use their car – it  is really expensive.

Ideally we would love to buy him a little electric car to zip around in with his support workers and have it painted in blue with his logo on it.

You can help us by donating or spreading the word to your family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and so on.

go-fund-me

Our New Team of Support Workers

Isaac now has a team of fabulous support staff – Josh, Dan, Manon and Fiona.  Thank you to the microboard for helping with the recruitment and thank you to Microboards Australia for providing us with some excellent recruitment coaching.

Isaac's support team meeting
Isaac’s support team meeting

It’s not all beer and skittles

I don’t want to paint a “Pollyanna picture” of building a good life for Isaac as something that has been quick, easy and always successful.  It has been none of those things. Nor has Isaac’s disability somehow lessened.  We are still faced with huge hurdles to work around every day.

We still don’t always get a full night’s sleep.  We still have mountains of clothes to wash.  We still have to prepare special meals for Isaac. We still struggle to think of places we can visit as a family where Isaac will be happy and not become anxious and fall into behaviours that others find challenging. We still struggle with medical issues.

We are still wounded by the comments and actions of others that stem from an unconscious belief that Isaac has less value.  We are still frustrated by the way our community sometimes doesn’t even think about how they might include Isaac.

We feel let down by the lack of interest in helping Isaac to have a good life by those we had hoped would be there for him. We feel hurt when we invite people to social activities with Isaac and nobody shows up. We feel frustrated that giving Isaac a good life is seen by some as lying solely in the realm of paid services and not with his friends, family and wider community.

It would be very easy to give up.

But the freely given support of the people who are involved in Isaac’s life is treasured.  It has led to achievements I talk about in this newsletter. The smallest wins give us enormous pleasure. They keep us going. One foot in front of the other.

Sometimes its lonely and tough
Sometimes its lonely and tough

 

 

 

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The Good Life Newsletter May 2016

Isaac’s Housemates Move In To Beadlemania

housematesIsaac’s housemates Patrick, Michael, Ben, Savannah, 3 cute pet rats and a kitten called Merlin have moved in to Beadle Place – otherwise known as Beadlemania.  To celebrate, family, friends and neighbours were invited to an afternoon tea for a grand tour and to get to know each other.

All the flatmate mums were also invited over for a lovely mother’s day lunch.  It felt like we were all one big family – a nice feeling.

Isaac will be learning what its like to move out of home and live independanty by staying at Beadlemania every second weekend.  We have been planning what will happen when Isaac comes to stay. A few key things are that:

  • Isaac will be an equal flatmate, not the landlord.  So Isaac needs to learn how to help out with the chores.
  • The flatmates will mostly be like ordinary flatmates and not carers.  So they will do things like cook shared meals, go on outings together, hang out at home, keep an eye out for each other’s welfare just like ordinary flat mates do.  They will not find themselves doing many carer type things very often like personal care or giving medication unless that is something they and Isaac are wanting to do.
  • Paid supports will also support Isaac to be a good flat mate as well has handling the carer type tasks.  Isaac’s support workers will need to help Isaac to learn to do chores, pick up after himself and not leave the lights on or the front door unlocked.
  • The flatmates will not have their lives constrained. Flatmates should still be able to fulfill commitments like working or playing sport.  There will be times when they will need to be around but these will be fun times.

This is going to be a bit of a journey for us all and its wonderful that these young people are so keen to be involved.

Isaac is going to vote in the upcoming election

Isaac is going to vote in the upcoming election.  This is his human right but its going to be tricky.  We are doing lots of practice around voting and will be visiting the Australian Electoral Office Education centre.  There is very little information about supporting people with an intellectual disability to vote on the Electoral Commission website.  Perhaps they think people like Isaac don’t understand voting and therefore shouldn’t vote. I say who knows?  and he should be given the opportunity to try. After all who does know everything about all the candidates and their policies?

I’m nervous about what the experience will be like.  I don’t want him stopped by people at the poll booth.  I’m not sure if his support workers or family or friends can assist him to vote.  So I’m off to the Electoral Office to see if they can offer some guidance and support to help the day run smoothly.

Isaac Delivers

Isaac continues to enjoy delivering magazines to doctors surgeries and car dealerships. We are finding the next hurdle of developing the business into a paid service quite a challenge. We need assistance to find businesses willing to pay for Isaac’s services.  He can collect and deliver anything that is:

  • light weight
  • easy to carry
  • is regular and not a one off

So this could be:

  • mail
  • magazines
  • coffees
  • food
  • spare parts
  • etc

We need someone who is good at talking with businesses about what Isaac can offer.  I find it too hard – its too emotional for me.  When people say no, its very hard to cope with because it means so much to me for him to have a paid job.

If you know anyone who has experience in business development, we would be quite willing to pay for them to engage with businesses to help us find clients willing to use Isaac’s services.

Isaac delivers logo
Isaac’s delivery business logo

Personal Training

Personal training is on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7-8pm at our house.  It’s lots of fun and Isaac keeps us moving by being the music man.  You are very welcome to join us – its $20 per session.

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Isaac working out with friends
Isaac working out with friends

Experiencing University

Isaac has had a great first semester joining in with the UC drumming club.  We are hoping to continue the club next semester.  It’s proving expensive so we are looking at ways of running the club more cheaply – perhaps buying our own drums and using Youtube as our teacher.

We are also looking at Isaac experiencing being part of a class and I have been exploring setting up a literacy group where Isaac, teacher education students and Isaac’s support workers and friends can come along and learn together about literacy. Hopefully this class will be up and running in semester 2.

We are looking to hire teachers that are experienced in using the 4 blocks literacy framework to teach the class so if you know of anyone get in touch.

Public Speaking

Earlier this year Isaac did some speaking at a forum for people who are transitioning into the NDIS up in Toowoomba and Brisbane.  Isaac, his brother Ben, friend Savannah, support worker Jade, step father David and myself all presented.  Isaac has a little powerpoint presentation and uses big buttons to change slides.  He is still learning about presenting and we were really pleased that he was able to show a few of his slides before wanting to leave. We are talking with him about how important it is to be able to help other people by sharing his story.  He seems to be a bit nervous about public speaking – and so are we!

Trip to Perth

I had a great trip to Perth recently to visit the folks from Microboards Australia.  They kindly shared what they are doing over there with regards to alternative communication, housing, positive behaviour support and literacy.  I was particularly interested in the literacy group and how several young men with complex disabilities are learning to read and write when others might have given up on them. Its slow and steady work but the young men have gone from not wanting to be in the room to enjoying two hours of writing and reading activities.

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Hang out with Isaac over a drink and some live music at Westside Acton Park on Sundays from 1:30 – 3:30

Each Sunday afternoon Isaac loves to hit Westside Acton Park – where all the big yellow shipping containers are.  So if you fancy an afternoon of music get on down there and hang out with Isaac – he’d love to see you there.

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The Good Life Newsletter February 2016

Happy New Year!

We hope you had a very happy Christmas and are looking forward to a great 2016.

Isaac, his family and three friends Savannah, Shauna and Michael enjoyed a trip to Ballarat after our Christmas celebrations.  We stayed in two apartments next door to each other.  Isaac had a great time hanging out with people his own age and Mum and Dad enjoyed having some time on our own. Isaac particularly enjoyed going fishing at the local trout farm and hanging out in the spa at the hotel with everyone.  As usual, he also loved the coat hangers in the cupboards and the tiles on the bathroom floor.

inthespa
Chillin’ in the spa on holiday in Ballarat

The year ahead..

Isaac’s Band of Brothers & Sisters Incorporated or “The Band” as we call it, works to build and safeguard a good life for Isaac where he has has choice and control and truly belongs in his community.  We do that by tapping into our networks to find and bring about opportunities for Isaac.

This year we are focussing on the following goals:

  • Isaac will be in paid employment 5 mornings a week that he enjoys, is based on his interests and skills and is highly visible and valued in his community
  • Isaac will be experiencing university life – where he will be participating in social activities and enrolled in a unit as an audit student.
  • We will be helping Isaac to continue to build his social networks and enable him to regularly participate in social activities with friends around his own age with whom he has shared interests
  • We will also be helping Isaac transition to living in his own home with housemates and supporters.
  • We will be looking for opportunities for the Band to be leaders in our local and interstate communities to support other families to build inclusive lives for their family member that has a disability.

Recruiting a mentoring team for Isaac

The Band has been working with the folks from Microboards Australia to develop a recruitment process for hiring a team of staff to work along side Isaac.

We hope to have a team ready to get to work by early April.  We are not looking for disability professionals but rather people that have skills in technology, sports, music and social networking.  If you know of anyone you think might be great let us know.

recruitment

Last year at school

Isaac has gone back to college part time this year and will gradually transition out of school into the workforce – as a delivery man – and into further education as an Auditing student at the University of Canberra.

He is participating in several mainstream classes this term which is really exciting. Melba Copland College have been very collaborative and welcoming and I’m really thankful for their efforts to include him and help him learn.

This year he was able to participate in the swimming carnival, all be it for a short time as he appeared to not like the cold water!

Social Group

Ben and Savannah rounded up their friends for afternoon tea and a chat about how they could help Isaac make more friends.  They brainstormed some activities they could do and already have done some fun things like ten pin bowling, a games night and dancing at the Canberra multicultural festival.

Savannah set up a Facebook group where everyone shares ideas about social activities that Isaac could be included in and would enjoy and each month aim to all go out together with Isaac.  They have also been thinking through what Isaac’s needs are and how to ensure he is safe and happy.

facebook page
Social group facebook page

Isaac goes on the Speaking Circuit

2016 is looking to be a big year for Isaac as he has been invited to speak at a few places in Queensland and Victoria alongside me, his mum,  about how we help him have a good quality life through the mechanism of a microboard and how we have leveraged the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to enable this to happen.  We also hope to be able to take along some of his friends and microboard members to share what they like about being a part of Isaac’s life as that will be quite powerful for others to hear.

So we are looking at helping Isaac to use powerpoint and switches to operate it and see how he likes standing up in front of a group of people to tell them about himself. We are also asking him what he would and wouldn’t like to talk about. He may not fancy it so we will see how he goes.

switch
We are purchasing some switch adapters like this to help Isaac to use Powerpoint to do presentations

Isaac’s house

We have bought Isaac his own house! – It’s a beauty we call Beadlemania after the street its in. Ben, Savannah and friends will rent it and Isaac will have his own room there and will go and stay with them every second weekend to transition into one day moving out completely.  We used the equity in our house to buy the property and it’s a beauty only two minutes away from where we live.

Our grander plan is to build a small intentional community where Isaac will live with friends and neighbours who keep an eye out for him and work alongside his paid supports to give him a life we he flourishes in the community.  That’s going to take a lot of time and money and we haven’t quite worked out exactly how that will happen yet.

In the meantime we will work out a model for ensuring Isaac and his flatmates are all safe and happy.  Community Connections is helping us as they have a lot of experience in home share for people with disability.

house
Isaac’s house in Charnwood

Transitioning to work

Isaac has been happily delivering unsold magazines kindly donated by Jamison Newsagency to lots of businesses around Canberra including the National Health Coop, Canberra Toyota, The Medical Specialists Centre in Jamison, Canberra Imaging Group, University of Canberra Health and Counselling and Gungahlin Medical Centre.

He seems to really enjoy it and is quite good at it.  He gets the bag of magazines out of the car, carries them in, greets the receptionist and places the magazines in the reception area.  He also removes all the old ones and takes them away to put in the recycling bin.

At the same time we are building a for profit business for Isaac where he can earn a wage and the business can be sustainable.  We have used NDIS funding to pay a Anthony Burgess who is a business analyst to write a business plan and get the business up and running.  We are modelling the business on Jackmail which delivers and picks up mail from the post office.

Bio Text is kindly helping us with developing the marketing for the new business.

Isaac greets the receptionist
Isaac greets the receptionist

Do you work at a local Canberra business? Can you help us with some market research for Isaac’s business?

Please complete this survey to  help us understand how businesses currently handle their incoming and outgoing mail to make sure that our business idea will be viable.

Fitness group

Every Thursday afternoon from 4:45 Isaac is doing a group training session with a personal trainer at our house. We do a 40 minute circuit of exercises like pushups, squats, medicine ball lifts and boxing.  Isaac is learning how to join in with us and really loves the music.  He also thinks its hilarious to watch us all sweat and groan.

Come and join us for a set of pushups or two!  It’s hard work but lots of fun and laughter.

Isaac working out with friends
Isaac working out with friends
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The Good Life Newsletter Christmas Edition

music in parkHappy Christmas to you all and thank you for being in Isaac’s life

This year “The Band” will be celebrating Christmas and all the good things that have happened in Isaac’s life this year on Saturday December 5 at Hackett Music in the Park.  It’s one of Isaac’s favourite events.  Local musicians will be performing during the afternoon and into the evening, and Santa will be making an appearance too.

We would love it if you could join us – here is your invitation to put on your fridge – Christmas 2015

Together we have achieved many things for Isaac and he has given us many things back.  I think the highlight of the year for me was Isaac’s friend Connor’s speech at Isaac’s birthday party where he spoke beautifully about how Isaac has been a good friend because he is a good listener and that Isaac is actually quite smart.

It’s all the little things that you all do that add up and end up in moments like Connor’s speech.  Thank you everyone.

5 day PODD

I attended the advanced Pragmatically Organised Dynamic Display (PODD) workshop in Melbourne early in October. PODD is Isaac’s communication book. It was an awesome workshop where I learned more about helping Isaac to see his PODD as his voice.

Sadly for much of his life AAC has been used to tell him what to do or to enable him to request.  It hasn’t been about enabling him to say what he wants and its been tough to get to really know him.

The workshop was led by the amazing Gail Porter who has developed the PODD system over many years.  Thanks Gail for helping Isaac to have a voice.

Lately he has been enjoying the “Let’s Pretend” branch where he asks people to pretend to be all sorts of weird and wonderful things from snorting pigs to flying planes much to his amusement.  His sense of humour is starting to come out which is wonderful.

Branch page

One of the best things I got from the workshop was that one of the other participants showed me a fantastic resource – the periodic table of AAC.  It shows all the principles that need to be at play to help people learn to use AAC.

PODD Printing

It’s important that everyone around Isaac knows how to use his PODD which means we need to make lots of practice copies for people.  Lucky for us, our family members of Michelle and Gary Jackson has a printing business in Canberra – Tenderedge  Thanks guys for doing all that printing for Isaac.

Thanks to the NDIS, we have a copy of Boardmaker, a copy of the PODD files and a printer to print them.  Otherwise we would have to pay up to $800 per book to get them made.  I can understand why as they take many hours to make.

Michelle and I went down to the Cerebral Palsy Education Centre in Glen Waverley where the PODD course was run a couple of weeks after the PODD course to talk to the folks about how to construct the PODDs better and we got some great tips on how to make the PODD more robust.  Thanks to all the wonderful staff there who were so willing to share their knowledge and experience.

PODD construction

Join Isaac for a Sunday Afternoon Session at the Rose Cottage Inn

Isaac loves live bands so each Sunday afternoon from 1-4pm he has been going with Dan to the Rose Cottage Inn in Tuggeranong to chill out to some tunes.  I’m sure Isaac and Dan would love some extra company – love to see you there!

Housing

for sale

One day we would like Isaac to live in a home of his own and share it with some friends.  With this in mind we are looking to buy a 3 bedroom unit or townhouse next year that Isaac’s Brother Ben and his friends can rent from us where Isaac can have a room there to come and stay every second weekend so he can start experiencing having his own space away from the old folks.

So if you know anyone that has a place for sale let us know!

We have also been lucky to find Wayne Pratt who is helping us with our project for Isaac’s future housing.  Wayne works in the financial sector and has lots of contacts within the construction and land development industries.

You can read more about the housing project here.

Legal Matters

I have engaged a not-for-profit tax lawyer to help our microboard to determine how Isaac can be legally a member of his microboard, how it can have not for profit status and gift deductible status and what kind of structure we should put in place to become an employer of staff.

It gets a bit complicated when Isaac can be deemed to be getting pecuniary gain from his association.   It means that he can’t be on the executive and we can’t get not for profit status.  If Isaac can’t influence the decisions about his life that isn’t good.  The not for profit status will bring us a lot of tax benefits and an entitlement to a bank account that doesn’t charge fees.  Our lawyer seems to be finding a way around this so stay tuned.

Microboard to Recruit Isaac’s Staff

One day in the future Isaac’s Microboard will over see all of the management of Isaac’s NDIS funding – setting his goals, hiring and managing his staff and so on. But I’m not dead yet so we are going to start slowly.

Jaquie Mills from Microboards Australia is running a skype mentoring session for us this Thursday night at 7:30pm on how a microboard can assist in recruiting staff.  Can’t wait to get her great ideas.

Isaac enjoys 80’s Mania with Ben and friends

Isaac had a fun night with his brother Ben,  Ben’s girlfriend Savannah and other friends at the 80’s Mania show.  Isaac fitted right in with all the other ’80s tragics that came in their hundreds to the Woden Southern Cross club for an evening of unabashed nostalgia. Cutting Crew, Go West, Nick Kershaw and Paul Young sang out all their good old hits and a great time was had by all.

80s mania at 80s mania

Blue Mountains Retreat

Isaac’s microboard members Ben, Savannah, Jade (rocking her rainbow hair), Ange and Casey enjoyed a weekend in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains learning about Microboards from the best in the business – Jaquie Mills from Microboards Australia and Linda Perry from Vela Microboards in Canada.  The amazing young folks were led in some activities by another amazing young woman Anita Howard who is an experienced microboard member from Perth. I tagged along too and as always, I felt really blessed to have such good people around Isaac.

I think it’s essential to hang around other people who do this kind of work, share experiences and learn.  I’m hatching a plan for another retreat in Perth in 2016 and hoping to get some sponsorship to get us all over there to meet the wonderful families in WA doing great things through their microboards.

Anita and young people ideas microboards conference

Basketball

basketball

Thanks to one of Isaac’s support workers – Josh – we have discovered another thing that Isaac enjoys – watching the Canberra Capitals!  He loved the lights, music and all the basketball action.  I loved it too I must admit.  So great to see Jess Bibby play the most WNBL games of all time.

So we will be becoming mad Capitals fans next season!

Isaac going into business

2016 will be a big year for Isaac when he transitions into work.  His microboard have been working hard to generate some ideas and find some opportunities for Isaac to explore potential work for Isaac.  The teachers at Melba Copland College have also worked really hard to help Isaac learn the skills of doing letter and magazine deliveries around school and at Kippax Health Centre.

We have used some NDIS funding to hire Anthony Burgess to do some business analysis work to help us set up a delivery business for Isaac.  Sally Richards has been kindly sharing her wisdom from her experience with Jackmail.

We think Isaac will enjoy being a delivery man.  He loves to ride in the car, is good at carrying things and enjoys doing short sharp tasks.

Support Worker Training Nights

We have had two training nights for Isaac’s support workers where we have practiced PODD and shared a few tips on keeping Isaac safe and happy.  Gail Bennell, Isaac’s speech therapist, has now moved to Canberra – Yay! – and she joined us at Ten Pin Bowling for some PODD on the spot training.  It was a bit noisy on the night and Isaac found that a challenge but after things quietened down he had a fun evening bowling with his microboard members that had joined us while his support team adjourned to McDonalds to continue practicing PODD.

PODD training 2 Bowling

PODD training

Isaac steps out in style

You may have noticed Isaac looking a little more stylish of late.  His microboard members Jade and Coralie went shopping for some more fashionable clobber for him.  Mums apparently don’t know best when it comes to buying clothes for their sons.

We had a lot of fun buying him all sorts of cool outfits.  Thanks again Jade and Coralie!

shopping

End of year holiday in Daylesford

resort

We will be enjoying Christmas day celebrations at home in Canberra and then heading off to Daylesford in Victoria for a holiday.  We have hired a couple of apartments so some if Isaac’s microboard members and Ben’s friends will be joining us so both Ben and Isaac will be able to enjoy the company of people their own age instead of having to go on holiday with the boring old folks.

Happy Christmas!

You, the readers of this newsletter, are special to our family.  You have helped in lots of small but significant ways to give Isaac a good life.  We are so very thankful for your love and kindness.  A very happy Christmas to you all from Isaac and his family Sheree, Ben and David xxxx

christmas pic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Good Life Newsletter September 2015

The Good Life Newsletter goes online!

Isaac and I decided that it was time to put his newsletter online. We felt it might be a good way of celebrating the good work that his supporters have been doing and it might help other people to learn more about what is possible for people with disability.

I asked Isaac if it would be ok.  Here is a video of me helping him to make the decision.  Of course I can’t be 100% sure if he understands but at least I have given him the opportunity to decide and to learn how to decide.

Isaac’s afternoon adventures

Isaac now has a support worker to pick him up every afternoon from college and has been doing some fun stuff like going to the zoo, checking out some of our museums and going swimming.  Isaac is learning to say where he would like to go so he can be in charge of his adventures.

He loves these adventures but he’d really love to have the company of friends too.  He recently went with a support worker and a bunch of mates down to the lake for a walk and to feed the ducks and everyone had a blast.  If you’d like to go on one of Isaac’s afternoon adventures with him just get in touch and we will organise it.

Isaac turns 18!

Isaac celebrated his birthday with family and friends with a lap around Canberra in a stretch Hummer and a party back at our house.  He and his friends had a blast in the hummer.  It was everything that Isaac loves – music, lights, friends and driving.  Everyone was beaming when they arrived back from their Canberra lap.

Back at the house we had lots of music and more lights and everyone partied on.  Connor gave a lovely speech about how he had realised even though Isaac didn’t talk he was actually quite smart and was a good listener.

The presents Isaac received also showed how well everyone is getting to know Isaac and he loves them all.

Thanks everyone for coming along and sharing Isaac’s important milestone.hummer

Supported Decision Making

Now that Isaac has turned 18 we need to think about supporting him in how to make decisions in his life and make them clear to everyone.  He needs to learn about voting, deciding where he will live, opening a bank account and having medical treatment.  We are not sure that he will be able to do these things but we like to give it a good try as we don’t really know what he can do or what he understands.  His teachers are working on teaching him how to do a signature!

The plan will be to learn more about supported decision making.  ADACAS do some great work around this so it would be great to get some of Isaac’s family, friends and microboard members involved in helping Isaac to be able to make his own decisions.

Work Experience

Isaac’s teachers have been providing him with the opportunity to learn mail pick up and delivery skills and he has been doing very well.  It is expected that he will then move to doing mail delivery outside of the school environment in September.   The work experience coordinator at Isaac’s school has arranged some work experience practice sessions at Belconnen Community Services in Kippax.

I wrote to The National Health Cooperative asking if he could do some work experience with them and they have enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity which is fantastic.  So this will be the next step if all goes well at Belconnen Community Services.

Podio

Keeping everyone on the same page around helping Isaac to achieve his goals is a challenge.  I’ve set up an online site using an app called PODIO to try and share information and ideas amongst those who work with him.

We will be able to:

  • Share documents such as support rosters and his NDIS plan
  • Share a calendar to keep up to date with microboard meetings, training sessions, conferences and other events.
  • Share photos and videos to share ideas about supporting Isaac and also to celebrate his achievements.
  • Record his goals, our strategies to help him achieve them and track the tasks that need to be done.
  • Contact each other via email or sms.

Some of Isaac’s support workers have already been using it to share ideas about how to support Isaac and the places he loves to go.  I’m planning on doing a little training session for everyone so that we can get the best out of it.

My Ambition Campaign

Isaac has been invited to participate in an ACT Government community campaign to help him achieve some of his goals. It will work on the same principals as the state of ambition campaigns in the United Kingdom – http://www.stateofambition.org/summerofstem/ where young people describe their goals and ambitions and the support they are looking for to achieve them on a website. Community organisations and businesses then respond and offer support.

Isaac’s ambition is to start up a mail pickup and delivery business that involves:

  • collection of mail from post office boxes located in the Belconnen area and delivery to businesses located in the Belconnen area
  • collection of out-going mail from businesses located in the Belconnen area and delivery to the post office in the Belconnen area to be posted.

Isaac’s Great Grandma and his Grandfather worked in the post office so being a mail man runs in the family.

mail box deliveries

Isaac loves to ride in the car and listen to the latest hits on the radio.  He is very good at remembering routines, greeting people and carrying things.

We feel this ambition is:

  • based on the things I like doing and what I am good at
  • important to and appreciated by the local community
  • involves being out and about in the community
  • provides him with an opportunity to learn and grow
  • Allows him the opportunity to meet people and make more friends

In 2012, nearly half (47.3%) of all working-age people with disability were not in the labour force.  So we are hoping this project will make sure Isaac doesn’t end up another statistic.

He has been doing lots of work experience including feeding animals, watering plants, collecting mail, doing letter box drops, helping in the kitchen, delivering magazines and being a door man at a disco.

To achieve his ambition Isaac needs assistance with:

  • writing a business plan
  • finding and purchasing a suitable delivery vehicle
  • designing business processes and related artefacts
  • creating marketing materials such as a web site and logos
  • designing and purchasing a uniform
  • identifying and purchasing equipment
  • identifying and purchasing suitable insurances
  • recruiting a fabulous driver/ assistant
  • identifying and onboarding clients

If you know anyone that might be able to help with this campaign get in touch with us.

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About this newsletter

I write this newsletter every couple of months in the hope that you the reader will enjoy hearing about Isaac’s good life and the possibilities that are opening up for him. Some of you are the people I know that love and care for Isaac and his future. Others may be people who don’t know Isaac who are exploring what is possible for a person you know who has a disability.  Read more

 

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The Good Life Newsletter June 2015

A special mother’s day

 It was an extra special mother’s day this year when Isaac, Ben, Ben’s gorgeous girlfriend Savannah and David took me out for breakfast at Tilley’s in Lyneham. It’s not always easy going out somewhere as Isaac finds the noise over stimulating and he gets a bit over excited. He’s been known to have some challenging behaviours such as drinking other people’s orange juice and standing on tables. I’m always conscious of Isaac’s public image. I want people to see his abilities and good qualities. That’s a bit hard to do when he is swinging from the chandeliers.

In our little cosy booth at Tilleys with the mood light, 1920’s music and good company, he was able to cope well and enjoyed celebrating with us. It was one of my favourite outings.

Apple Day at Loriendale Orchard

Isaac and his “Band” took a drive into the country to discover the delights of freshly picked orchard fruit at the Apple Day at Loriendale Orchard. We all enjoyed the choirs whilst sitting in the shade of some trees. Most of us took home one of the highly sought after apple pies.

It was wonderful to see Isaac with his band members enjoying the music and using his PODD communication book to talk about it. I’d been to the Apple Day several times over the years and never really had the opportunity to relax and enjoy it as I needed to make sure Isaac was ok. This time I could relax and enjoy myself too and appreciated having a group of people to support Isaac to enjoy himself.

Pizza and PODD

David, Jessica, Michelle and Gavin joined us for Pizza and a lesson in how to use Isaac’s PODD communication book. Speech therapist Harriet Korner came down from Sydney to help us learn more about how to use it with Isaac. It’s really important that Isaac has lots of competent communication partners around him so that Isaac can learn from their modelling. The more people he sees using it with him the more likely he is to use it too. PODD can provide a way for Isaac to better express his personality through a wide range of communication types, including requests, greetings, comments, questions, opinions and more. Being able to communicate is key to him having choice and control, friends, work and other things that make up a good life. Watch out for the next PODD night and come and join us if you would like to learn more.

Save the date for Isaac’s 18th birthday

We are going to have a party for Isaac for his 18th birthday on Saturday evening August 15. Save the date!

Have you been to a good party lately? What was good about it? Got any ideas for Isaac’s birthday?

A weekend with friends and family

On July 4-5 David and I are hoping to have a weekend away with a bunch of friends and we would also love it if Isaac could have a lovely weekend with friends and family too while we are away.

While we do have some money in Isaac’s NDIS plan to pay support workers, we would like to supplement this with him having some time with his family and friends who love him and know him the best.   We also know that just because a support worker may have qualifications, they won’t necessarily take better care of him. We like to safeguard Isaac by ensuring he has family and friends visit him and spend time with him to make sure he is being well looked after and is happy.

So if you have some time over the weekend of July 4 -5 and would like to come over and spend a little time with Isaac let us know by filling in our survey

ACT Government invites Isaac to participate in community campaign

Isaac has been invited to participate in an ACT Government community campaign to help him achieve some of his goals. It will work on the same principals as the state of ambition campaigns in the United Kingdom – http://www.stateofambition.org/summerofstem/ where young people describe their goals and ambitions and the support they are looking for to achieve them on a website. Community organisations and businesses then respond and offer support.

Isaac the college student

Isaac is very much the college student now. He is getting out of the car, carrying his bag and his PODD book and finding his way around the building with his support worker trailing him 10 metres behind.

His teachers have been working really hard to help him to learn and to become a valued and connected citizen and are seeing some successes. He is about to do work experience delivering things and watering the plants at Kippax Health Centre. We are also exploring the idea of him becoming involved in the Disc Jockey program at school. I’m so thankful for their efforts.

A house for Isaac

Myself and the two other mums who have been working with me on getting a house for Isaac and their boys met with Joy Burch – Minister for Disability and also the head of Housing ACT and the head of Disability ACT to talk further about the progress of our housing proposal. It boils down to money of course so we need to persuade the ACT government to allocate money and land to us. That’s not going to be very easy.

Rapid Prompting Method

Isaac and I attended the Rapid Prompting workshop in Sydney. Isaac did really well on the first day – he listened to the therapist talk to him about the layers of rainforests and when he was asked to identify words that described the layers he was successfully able to identify most of them. Unfortunately for the remaining two days he was frustrated with it and didn’t want to participate. I came home feeling a bit overwhelmed. Like everything this will take a significant amount of work.

I have given Isaac’s teachers information about the method and they are going to give it a go at school.

David and I are going to look at a few ways we can implement it at home to build his literacy skills.

Microboards Canberra Retreat

Microboards Canberra families enjoyed fun recreational activities as well as workshops that focussed on ways to work with unpaid friendship networks to build a good quality, ordinary and included life for their family member with a disability.

It was held on April 10 -12 at the beautiful Warrambui Retreat and Conference Centre at Murrumbateman.  Isaac enjoyed riding on the mini bus and met up with his lovely friends Teaghan and Veronica for a swim.  Jan and Lucy from Isaac’s “Band” joined in on the fun and got to know Isaac a little better.

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The Good Life Newsletter March 2015

A fabulous time in Western Australia

A fabulous time was had by all in Western Australia.

Sadly poor Teaghan was sick so couldn’t join us – we missed you Teaghan! Fortunately we made another fabulous friend in Farrah whose sister used to be in Isaac’s class at Cranleigh School.

We stayed in Fremantle for the first 4 days where we had fun watching the sun set over the ocean, meeting Quokkas on Rottnest Island and meeting up with other families who have Microboards who live in the area.

I was able to meet up with Susan Stanford who is the catalyst for Youniverse – www.youniverse.org.au and she and other Youniverse members were able to mentor me in person a little more on running a microboard. It’s not easy and it’s not fast but they can do amazing things.

Isaac got to meet Alicia – a speech therapist – who specializes in helping people with complex communication needs to understand the process and decision making and make decisions for themselves. We practiced telling Isaac about why we wanted to make a video of him using his PODD and asking him if he was ok with that. We also practiced using a talking mat where Isaac could tell us what he liked and didn’t like using symbols. For the first time we noticed that Isaac has a little tiny nod for yes – it was amazing to see. Isaac loved talking with Alicia as she spoke to him like she would speak to anyone – in a way that presumed he could understand. His face lit up.

Farrah soon got to know Isaac and how to support him and she enjoyed hanging out with him and the WA clan at a house right by the beach in Mandurah. They enjoyed some daily outings and lots of people were able to use Isaac’s PODD with him so he had some great modelling.

dinner in wa

podd with matt

Join Isaac and the Band at Apple Day at Loriendale Orchard

Saturday 28th March 2015 1.30 – 5.00 pm

“Isaac’s Band” will be taking a drive into the country to discover the delights of freshly picked orchard fruit. We will be enjoying a range of organic foods – crepes served with Loriendale apple sauce and Devonshire teas served with delicious scones, muffins or cakes. No doubt Isaac’s favourite part will once again be chilling out to the background music provided by local musicians and choirs. We will be able to buy organic produce from local producer stalls: farm vegetables, dried fruit, toffee apples and honey. My favourite is watching the pressing of fresh apple juice on the wooden apple press from the 19th century.

Want to join us? We are happy to car pool or just meet you there? Get in touch with Sheree if you would like to join us – 0407305739. Don’t forget to wear your Band T-shirts.

To get there travel along the Barton Highway, north of Canberra and turn right at Spring Range Road (2km north of border between ACT/NSW)

More info at http://www.loriendale.com.au/apple_day.htm

apple day

 

Band T-Shirts $25

If you would like to order a “Band” t- shirt just email the quantity, ladies or mens, and size – s,m,l,xl, xxl, xxxl shereehenley@grapevine.com.au and transfer $25 into the following bank account:

BSB: 112-908

Acc No: 432 402 572

Account Name: Isaac’s Band of Brothers and Sisters Inc

tshirt f

tshirt b

Chatterbox – a Communication Group

Starting in second term – Tuesday 28th April, every Tuesday Evening from 7-9 pm we are going to run a PODD session with Isaac and his communication partners at our house. We will do lots of fun games and learn how to use PODD together. It will just run throughout the school term.

We also want to extend it to doing some literacy with him – spelling, reading, writing. We are hoping to bring in some experts to help us too.

Learning PODD is like learning a new language so Isaac needs to be surrounded by people who know how to use it. If others don’t use it, neither will he. Why speak French when you are in Australia?

We welcome anyone who is interested in helping Isaac to learn to communicate to come and join us. No problem if you can’t come every week either.

There is lots of research on the need to model aided language – PODD is a form of aided language. Here are some key ones.

Drager KDR; Postal VJ; Carrolus L; Castellano M; Gagliano C; Glynn JThe Effect of Aided Language

Modeling on Symbol Comprehension and Production in 2 Preschoolers With Autism American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (AM J SPEECH LANG PATHOL), 2006 May; 15 (2): 112-25. (41 ref)

Wood, L., Lasker, J., Siegel-Causey, E., Beukelman, D., & Ball, L. (1998). Input framework for augmentative and alternative communication. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 14, 261–267.

Elder, P., & Goossens’, C. (1994). Engineering training environments for interactive augmentative communication: Strategies for adolescents and adults who are moderately/severely developmentally delayed. Birmingham, AL: Southeast Augmentative Communication Conference Publications.

After School Swimming

Next school term I am going to organise a support worker to take Isaac swimming and I’d love some other friends to come along with him. The support worker can pick up Isaac and possibly his friends from College, take them to the CISAC pool, get Isaac dressed and undressed, use his PODD communication book, teach the other kids how to communicate with Isaac, do some fun structured and unstructured activities in the pool eg floating, kicking, duck diving, throwing a ball, playing with a noodle etc

NDIS Plan

We have completed our NDIS plan for Isaac which is now in for review. As well as the usual supports such as respite and linen service we have asked for support for the following initiatives:

• Swimming with friends once a week

• A bunch of mates program at school

• Chatterbox PODD and literacy sessions each week

• Support to help him learn to independently get ready for school

• Work experience support

• Microboard mentoring

• Housing project coordinator

Watch this space to see how we go.

Pizza Night Revival

I’m planning on reviving the Pizza and movie night with Isaac’s friends. The NDIS money can be used to support that. We will start that up again next term on the first Friday of the month.

pizza

Rapid Prompting Method

A qualified Rapid Prompting Method therapist is running some workshops in Sydney in April and we have Isaac signed up.

We are hoping he will learn some literacy and numeracy skills through these sessions. He will have 6, 20 minute sessions with the therapist so it will be really interesting to see how he goes. It wouldn’t surprise me if he knows how to spell. Of course this costs a fortune but we are hoping the NDIS will cover the cost.

rapid prompting

Registrations for the Retreat Close on March 25

Microboards Canberra families are running a retreat for families of people with a disability and their microboards, circles of support or friendship networks.

Participants will enjoy fun recreational activities as well as workshops that focus on ways to work with unpaid friendship networks to build a good quality, ordinary and included life for their family member with a disability.

It will be held on April 10 -12 at the beautiful Warrambui Retreat and Conference Centre at Murrumbateman.

Interested in coming along as part of Isaac’s gang? We’d love to have you join us. It will be awesome fun and really inspiring. We have some funding to cover your costs. So if you fancy having a weekend or even just an afternoon out in the lovely Murrumbateman countryside please contact Sheree on 040730739 asap.

Further information can be found at http://microboardscanberra.org.au/?ai1ec_event=retreat&instance_id=12

 

Need your mail collected or your cat fed?

Don’t forget that Isaac likes to help collect mail and feed cats when people are away on holidays, so if you would like to have him come over and do that for you let Sheree know.

Need your car washed?

We still have some car wash vouchers if you would like to take Isaac out for a car wash – he really enjoys going for a drive and you get to have a free car wash!

Upcoming Events

Saturday 28th March 2015 1.30 – 5.00 pm Apple Day

April 6-9 Rapid Prompting Method Workshop

April 10 -12 – Retreat at Warrambui –

Home

Things we need help with

  • Finding a place where the same people gather regularly to enjoy music where Isaac could
  • come along and enjoy it too with his friends and also make new friends.
  • People to join Isaac’s Band of Brothers and Sisters Inc who would like to get to know Isaac
  • better and help him to have an included life.
  • People to join our Chatterbox group
  • Swimmers to go swimming with Isaac
  • Folks to join us at the Apple Day
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The Good Life Newsletter February 2015

Happy New Year!

It’s that time of year where we reflect on our achievements and disappointments and set new goals. Last year our goals were to:

• transition Isaac to an inclusive mainstream college setting

• help Isaac to consolidate his friendships

• help Isaac to go to events with unpaid supports

• begin planning where Isaac will live in a few years

• identify what kinds of work Isaac might like to do when he finishes school

• work out how to further improve Isaac’s circle

• get incorporated to become a microboard

Isaac and his Band of Brothers and Sisters Inc have achieved all of those things which is fantastic!

We are going to set new goals at our next gathering on Sunday February 8.

A fabulous Christmas Party

Isaac’s Band of Brothers and Sisters Inc helped to organise Isaac’s Christmas party which was lots of fun. We played our reindeer race game, ate lots of delicious food that people brought to share and sang some Christmas carols around the piano led by some of Isaac’s church friends.

singing at the piano

Isaac arrives at his school formal with a gorgeous young lady

Isaac going to a school formal with a beautiful young lady on his arm was something I had hoped would happen but secretly didn’t believe it would. It was so awesome when the lovely Teaghan invited Isaac to join her. Teaghan and her mum organized a fire truck for them to arrive in which Isaac thoroughly enjoyed.

formal

Isaac is now a college student

Isaac has had his first few days at Melba Copland College. With the exception of refusing to get out of the car each morning, he seems to be going well. We think he is refusing to get out of the car because he loves the car not because he doesn’t like college. He got out quick smart when the Deputy Principal opened the door!

We will need to start building some more friendships with the other students. Jan Kruger from Imagine More is helping us to work with the school on “a bunch of mates” where other young folk gather at lunch time occasionally to hang out, have fun, get to know each other and Isaac and organise some after school activities.

Musical Connections

As you know Isaac is a big music fan. We have discovered that he particularly likes Michael Buble.

Anthony took him along to the Hackett Music in the Park event again this year and a good time was had by all. Some of the musicians took a shine to Isaac and danced with him.

We also took Isaac to the Carols by Candlelight in Melbourne at Christmas and he absolutely loved it. He remained glued to the speaker where we were sitting. It was very loud!

Anyway, if any of you are planning on going to a music gig this year let us know if you would like to take Isaac along. We can arrange a support worker to go with you if you are feeling a bit unsure of how to support him.

Isaac’s friend Teaghan is going to join us in WA

Isaac’s friend Teaghan is going to join us on our trip to Western Australia. We are looking at spending some time with some other folks in Perth from Youniverse – www.youniverse.org.au who do some great work around building natural supports for people with disability and building inclusive lives. We will also be visiting a speech therapist – Alicia Gorman – who has a lot of expertise in helping people with complex communication needs to make informed decisions. This will be really important for Isaac so that we can be sure he has as much choice and control over his life as possible.

There is still time to book a flight if you would like to join us and meet some other amazing families in Perth who are helping their kids with complex needs build inclusive

Isaac’s Ice Cream

We are experimenting with some small business ideas for Isaac when he finishes school. He has been helping me make some Ice Cream by adding some yummy extras like violet crumble, nuts and cherries. I’ve packed them up in little containers and taken them to work and they seem to be quite popular. People are suggesting new flavours too. So if you have an idea let me know.

Some examples are:

  • Malteezers, maple syrup and hazelnuts
  • Mars bars and macadamias
  • Bounty chocolate bars and almonds

making ice cream

Giving Back Housing Project

As you may know, our family and two other families are working together on an innovative housing project for our sons. Our boys will each have a home of their own in separate locations within a new suburb that is built around social sustainability principles – lots of shared spaces and pedestrianized areas, parks, cafes etc, that allow people to gather and meet regularly. Isaac is going to have a music performance space, Jake is going to have a mens shed and Brandon is going to have a games room. They can each invite neighbours over to share these spaces.

We are working on the idea of the ACT Government giving us the land, we contribute some money and we find some equity partners to help us fund the remainder. Bank MECU have some really low interest rates for people with a disability – www.bankmecu.com.au

Rapid Prompting Method

A qualified Rapid Prompting Method therapist is running some workshops in Sydney in April and we have Isaac signed up. We are hoping he will learn some literacy and numeracy skills through these sessions. He will have 6, 20 minute sessions with the therapist so it will be really interesting to see how he goes. It wouldn’t surprise me if he knows how to spell. Of course this costs a fortune but we are hoping the NDIS will cover the cost.

Retreat

Microboards Canberra families are running a retreat for families of people with a disability and their microboards, circles of support or friendship networks.

Participants will enjoy fun recreational activities as well as workshops that focus on ways to work with unpaid friendship networks to build a good quality, ordinary and included life for their family member with a disability.

It will be held on April 10 -12 at the beautiful Warrambui Retreat and Conference Centre at Murrumbateman.

Interested in coming along as part of Isaac’s gang? We’d love to have you join us. It will be awesome fun and really inspiring. Further information can be found at

Home

Need your mail collected or your cat fed?

Don’t forget that Isaac likes to help collect mail and feed cats when people are away on holidays, so if you would like to have him come over and do that for you let Sheree know.

Need your car washed?

We still have some car wash vouchers if you would like to take Isaac out for a car wash – he really enjoys going for a drive and you get to have a free car wash!

Upcoming Events

Sunday February 8 at 3 – 4:30pm – Isaac’s Band of Brothers and Sisters Inc Meeting at Isaac’s House

February 28 – March 13 – WA Trip to visit Youniverse families

April 10 -12 – Retreat at Warrambui –

Home

Things we need help with

  • Finding a fellow Melba Copland college student with a driver’s licence or who is keen for a
  • lift in the morning with us to support Isaac to arrive at school and get out of the car!
  • Finding a place where the same people gather regularly to enjoy music where Isaac could
  • come along and enjoy it too with his friends and also make new friends.
  • People to join Isaac’s Band of Brothers and Sisters Inc who would like to get to know Isaac better and help him to have an included life.
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