Having an autistic child means that Leanne Tuckerman never has much time to herself. Even when she does have time away from her son Thomas, she is still busy advocating for him, to ensure he gets the care and opportunities he needs to flourish.
Thomas, 11, was diagnosed as autistic when he was five years old, and then a few years later he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He also has dysgraphia, which is a learning disability that affects writing skills, handwriting and spelling, so school can be challenging for him.
“Thomas has anxiety and is scared of many things, so he prefers to stay at home. He’s not very independent and so he relies on me to do most things for him,” Leanne explains.
An avid gamer, Thomas loves staying at home and Leanne says she really struggles to get him out of the house and engage in outdoor activities. Her main goal was to see him become more independent and less reliant on her.
After finally getting an NDIS plan approved for Thomas, Leanne wanted to utilise his funds to employ a support worker so that she could not only get some respite, but so Thomas could get out and learn to engage with the world away from her.
In July 2020, Leanne came across Carer Solutions, and it was their unique Direct Employ service that initially attracted her. Their service enabled the family to employ Maddie, a young woman who the family already knew, and who Thomas really liked.
Carer Solutions assists families like Leanne’s to set themselves up as formal employers and their chosen supports as formal employees. Carer Solutions take care of all the complicated stuff, guiding families through the process, with all the information and tools they need to set up their support team.
“Thomas has always struggled to engage with people such as his occupational therapists and the like, so we knew that it was only going to work if he knew and connected well with his support worker,” she says.
Leanne explains how Thomas and Maddie regularly go to the supermarket to buy all the ingredients for the evening meal, then come home and prepare and cook it together.
“I am just so amazed – I could never have imagined him doing something like that,” Leanne says. “Thomas can now even go to KFC or Subway and order his own meal, which is so great to see. He would never have done that if he was with me. I have always had real trouble getting him away from his computer, so I am so happy to see him going out with Maddie, having fun and gaining independence.”
“Due to his anxiety issues, finding someone that Thomas knew and trusted was essential for us. My husband and I can now go out for dinner and enjoy our time together knowing Thomas is well cared for with someone he feels comfortable with.”
Leanne says that thanks to Carer Solutions and their Direct Employ service, she is now excited for the future, especially with Thomas starting high school next year.
“It is wonderful to see him so excited about going to high school, and it’s certainly a comfort for us to know that he is,” Leanne says.
Find out more about this unique service by visiting the Carer Solutions website or giving their friendly team a call on 1300 729 839.
Please note: In principle the NDIA considers family members as informal support and not employable via the NDIS criteria. People you know beyond family are considered eligible to be employed by you as your support workers. The NDIA states:
“Generally, the NDIA will only fund family members to provide supports in exceptional circumstances. For example, when:
- there is a risk of harm or neglect to the participant;
- there are religious or cultural reasons for funding a family member to provide supports; or
- the participant has strong personal views, for example in relation to their privacy or dignity.”
You can read the NDIA’s full official statement on the NDIS website here