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 with autism 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 our unique Direct Employ service that initially attracted her. Our service enabled the family to employ Maddie, a young woman who the family already knew, and who Thomas really liked.
“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 being a Carer Solutions Partner, 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.