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Kaden gets his kicks from NDIS funding

Getting his kicks out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is just one aspect of Kaden’s “amazing” year.

Living with rare genetic condition Mowat-Wilson syndrome, Kaden is non-verbal and has limited muscle strength and control and needs a lot of mobility assistance, but it hasn’t held him back.

On a self-managed plan through Feros Care Mackay and Local Area Coordinator (LAC) Davina Harrison, Kaden has kicked goals with martial arts therapy and his mother Tina Gleeson is hopeful an upcoming review could help her son’s blossoming life and independence continue.

“We’re in the process of upgrading Kaden’s wheelchair and are looking at a Convaid Stroller, and we’re also looking at securing a Wike bike trailer,” Tina said.

“The Wike trailer is a lightweight trailer that hooks up to the back of a bicycle as he loves doing the outdoors stuff, being in the bush and that sort of thing.

“We also trialled Eye Gaze technology and that was amazing. An iPad is a logical step, but he gets distracted on them so if we go for something more disability specific like Eye Gaze, it might be more successful.

“But it’s a long, slow road so we want to make sure we get the right stuff.”

Kaden’s accomplishments speak for themselves 

While Kaden’s health and chance at prolonged independence is the long-term goal, it’s his short-term gains which have resonated most.

Regularly letting out a “come on” and echoing tennis great Lleyton Hewitt, the Mackay 18-year-old is attacking life with the same zeal as the Australian champion.

Bouncing up to hit the martial arts mat, the water, or making his way along one of his beloved bush tracks, Kaden’s improvement in the last 12 months has been “mind blowing”.

“He’s been in a happier frame of mind and is more interested in wanting to communicate about what he’s done through the day; he’s wanting to communicate and interact with the world more,” Tina said.

“He’s always been a very cautious person, but now when we suggest things, we get an ‘uh huh’, and he’s all bouncing and ready to go.”

The key of a support worker in the lives of NDIS participants

A key activity in Kaden’s schedule has been his job as a confectionary control officer a couple of days a week at a local newsagency, where he is also responsible for delivering newspapers to nearby government offices.

Building his confidence through the role, Kaden has been assisted by long-term support worker and advocate Rebecca, who accompanies him in navigating a maze of office spaces.

Enjoying his first camping trip with Rebecca in 2018 where he experienced the water and the rush of tubing, Kaden’s energy and enthusiasm has blossomed.

Taking to dancing (strength building), ten pin bowling, sailability, martial arts, a supported dining out program, movies, playing games at Time Zone and going to karaoke where he puts his dance moves into practice and supports his friends, Kaden has developed an active social life.

Crucially, NDIS funding has allowed Kaden to spend nights away from home at Rebecca’s, where he continues to build life skills and independence.

“Rebecca has known Kaden since he was in grade one when we moved to Mackay; he gets her and she gets him… they just click,” Tina said.

“Currently he has one overnight visit a week with her and her son Jacob, and he has learnt to set a table with visual aids, put washing in the washing machine, wipe the table, help make his bed and cut up food (with support).

“He gets encouragement from Jacob and his approval means a lot. We’ve been able to get Kaden to try new foods and push through his sensory barriers.

“We’re hoping to extend his stays as he’s 18, so he shouldn’t have to be home all the time and we’re all champing at the bit for him to get out and be independent.”

Planning for independence with a disability

A big advocate for carers being able to care for themselves, Tina believes Kaden’s continued push for more independence has an all-round positive effect.

While the family has strong friendships and networks, it’s NDIS funding which has assisted Kaden to chase the things he loves.

“We wouldn’t have been able to do a lot without the NDIS and I would have had to leave my place of employment and we wouldn’t have been able to maintain our quality of life,” Tina said.

“He needs around the clock care and having the funding also helps with giving us a break and it’s been like a safety net.

“It’s been really helpful.”Man with disability in tube in water

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