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‘It takes a village’ – How Henry is thriving from personalised support

Henry is an active 11-year-old described as “very funny” who loves outdoor activities. His mother Annabel said “he loves to break things and fix things but doesn’t always manage to fix them”. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Henry has experienced a lot of challenges in the public school system, leading Annabel to decide to home-school him.

An image of Henry with his mother and Teddy

Henry with his mother and Teddy

Henry spends two hours a day, three days a week at PosAbility Psychology & Learning Clinic, studying essential subjects such as mathematics and English while studying on a more hands-on basis at home.

One of the drawbacks of home-schooling is the lack of opportunities to socialise with his peers, so Henry had become quite solitary. “He would love to have a lot of friends,” Annabel said, “but was struggling with relationships at school and being home-schooled having friendships is difficult.”

Henry was mostly spending time at home with Annabel and their labrador, Teddy. With siblings, Oliver, 15 and Eloisa, 13, at school, Annabel worried that Henry needed an outlet away from home.

Henry’s NDIS allocated a significant proportion of his funding towards support workers because during COVID-19 lockdowns, waitlists for occupational therapists and other professionals were extremely long. Annabel heard about Mable, through which people with disabilities can connect with Independent Support Workers who can provide a range of support services. Clients or their carers can conduct searches of support worker profiles, filtering searches by skills, services offered, interests and more.

“When we signed up to Mable,” Annabel said, “I was specific about the kind of person we wanted and wrote a great profile for Henry and explained what we needed. We received lots of responses, asked lots of questions, spent time looking at support worker profiles and narrowed down those with experience in working with kids with ASD.”

After a face-to-face meeting, Annabel and Henry settled on Darryl, a recent migrant from South Africa whose grandsons live with ASD. Darryl was engaged to spend time with Henry doing practical activities and has taught Henry a range of ‘life skills’ including woodwork and how to safely build a fire and use tools.

According to Annabel, over time, Darryl learned Henry’s behavioural signals and when to push him or when to back off. “He latched on to Henry’s interests quickly and keeps him engaged over the two-to-three-hour sessions they have together. He takes Henry fishing and bushwalking. Sometimes they bring home items from kerbside collections and fix them up and also have been demolishing the old unused chook shed.”

She said Darryl has been instrumental in helping Henry to regain trust in adults, other than family and friends. “We have been working towards getting him back into school, where his previous experiences led to deep self-doubt. I believe with Darryl we are making progress.”

Describing her experience with Mable, Annabel said she loves that it’s so autonomous. “I familiarised myself with the platform and found that it works well for me and even lets me save all the important documentation for the NDIS within it.”

She said having access to support workers who offer their services independently has been helpful.

“I can search for people who match Henry’s needs and what I’m looking for, for him.”

She recommends using Mable because although it can be difficult to trust other people with your children, she said sometimes you have no choice, such as if family is not nearby. “It takes a village to raise a child and I found that there are amazing people on Mable who genuinely care to help your child thrive.”

Are you looking for support for yourself or a loved one? Head to the Mable website to connect with independent support workers today.

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