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Helping my son choose a pathway in life

Marie-Louise Carroll (left) with her son Jordan

By Marie-Louise Carroll

This article is part of My Plan Manager’s guest blogger series.

It was hard knowing which direction to turn to when my son Jordan – who lives with a disability – became an adult.

His vision issues weren’t the problem, but his short-term memory loss was a different story. I saw a program called Rewire that was run at the local campus of TAFE SA, and it seemed perfect for Jord. It was aimed at young adults with different kinds of brain disorders, and it went through varied topics to help young people make decisions about their pathways into adult life.

While Jord was at Rewire, TAFE SA facilitators came to give a presentation about what they offered, and after reading the information they provided, Jord decided that it might be for him. Enrolling in TAFE SA involved making an appointment with the inclusion officer, filling in forms about Jord’s disabilities and medical issues and, of course, Jord knowing what course he wanted to do.

There were some problems at the start. Jord’s original course was cancelled and the only other course he wanted to do was a diploma, which was a huge challenge. We then had to see the facilitators running the course as they wanted to make sure Jord would be able to handle the content.

The thing I want to say is that, although the course is meant to be completed across a 12-month period, Jord doesn’t go to TAFE SA every day. Instead, he goes just once a week – and then he has another day set aside for revising and doing his assignments. Jord has a support worker with him both days and, in the early days, he had access to a TAFE SA support worker too.

A tip from me – never rule out an opportunity by looking at the usual length of time for a course, because these things can be worked around. TAFE SA has been brilliant at accommodating Jord’s needs – the facilitators of his course have been extremely supportive, and for Jord, the course will take about four years to complete.

“Never rule out an opportunity by looking at the usual length of time for a course, because these things can be worked around.”

– Marie-Louise Carroll

Being at TAFE SA has really helped Jord’s concentration and, to a degree, his social skills too – but it’s really important to get the right support worker and it can be hard to get the right fit sometimes. The support worker Jord works with now is older and patient, and Jord is thriving, concentrating, and doing all of his work himself, with some occasional help.

There are lots of things to consider if the person you care for decides to try TAFE. A big one for us was that diplomas cost a lot of money – more than certifications! We learnt that one the hard way, but we got there in the end.

I have to say, I still find it more difficult for me now that Jord is an adult. The demands are different to when he was a child. For example, he has tried to get work by himself, but it’s just so hard for him. He had a traineeship once, but not one of the four interviews he had turned into a job, because the potential employers were concerned about the health and safety issues that might arise because of Jord’s vision. It was frustrating, but there’s not much you can do about it except to look at other options – which is what we did.

“Being at TAFE SA has really helped Jord’s concentration and, to a degree, his social skills too – but it’s really important to get the right support worker.”

– Marie-Louise Carrolll

It’s also taken Jord a few years to know what he wants to do once TAFE is finished, but he wants to put the skills he has learnt into his own business with his photography, so there might be even more TAFE needed for that.

Trying to help your children find something that gives them satisfaction and pride in themselves isn’t always easy to do, but when you can, they feel like they are achieving, and it’s pure happiness to see that.

Marie-Louise Carroll is a mother, carer, nurse, advocate and support worker to her beautiful son Jordan, who is 24 years old. When Jordan was 11, he had a massive bleed in his brain which caused a stroke. Marie learnt to be an occupational therapist and support worker to him and then (to pay for his skiing goals) she became a support worker at Vision Australia. In ‘past lives’ a singer, dancer, office worker, lollipop lady, dance teacher, Marie is currently a disability rights advocate with regular public speaking engagements.

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