Support and belief helps Nicole craft dreams of a future for others
BUILDING CAPACITY ON A PATH TO REACHING HER GOALS ARE NOW ACHIEVABLE DREAMS FOR FEROS CARE PARTICIPANT, NICOLE.
Recently completing her first National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan after being diagnosed with level 2 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), in 2019, the 27-year-old from Adelaide said she now has the support and belief required to live her best life.
“I’m at university doing a degree in Disability and Developmental Education, and I’ve also recently gotten a casual job doing data entry,” Nicole said.
“I’ve also set goals for domestic support… Not so someone can do the housework for me, but to help me learn ways to maintain my house so I can learn how to do it all and get on top of things.
“I’m also looking into community support to engage more socially as I have sensory issues and can get disorientated in public spaces, and I’m wanting to find a dietician to help set healthy meal plans.
“But my long-term goal is to move into full-time employment in the disability field as I want to help others.”
Nicole’s want to help others stems from a life-long feeling of not fitting in amid judgement. A self-confessed tomboy growing up, Nicole took to kicking footballs and wrestling with her brothers, Matthew, and Bradley, while struggling in the school system.
“As a kid, I knew that I was different,” she said. “I was really shy, and the only place I felt at home, was at home. In primary school, I never really clicked with anyone and I didn’t understand why, and then in high school, I realised how different I was.
“I‘d say ‘why am I different, why doesn’t anyone like me?’ People used to tell my mum I was a bad kid and needed a smack and so she thought she was a bad mother.
“I struggled to maintain friendships and relationships and I really could have had early intervention which would have really helped.”
As a child that ‘fell through the cracks,’ Nicole tried to move forward despite a lack of support and awareness which would have led to a much earlier ASD diagnosis.
Trying to manage her social anxiety and sensory issues, Nicole maintained a long-term relationship as best she could, while pushing herself to try and fit in and prosper in a working environment.
“I would really only go out if I had to… but I have a friend who is an extrovert and she adopted me and found ways around my excuses not to socialise,” Nicole said.
“My ex-partner and I were together for about six-and-a-half years, but for him I’m not an affectionate person and he felt really lonely and maintaining a house didn’t occur to me… that was a source of friction, and to him I didn’t want to give him affection and seemed lazy.
“Maintaining jobs was hard, and my first job I ended up leaving. Talking to customers all the time, I just couldn’t do it and deal with the anxiety; I’d be shaking so much I couldn’t speak, so I just left.
“I went back after finishing school and was there for around six months to a year, but I realised it just wasn’t going to work.”
The wheel started to turn for Nicole through meeting current partner, Ethan, who she now lives with in the home she owns.
Ethan, who lives with Asperger’s, is a calming and understanding partner for Nicole, and the two click, making for a supportive and comfortable home and social environment.
Crucially, it was through meeting Ethan and wanting to know how she could support him better that led Nicole to researching ASD and expressing a desire to explore testing for herself.
“I just wanted answers for me… I just wanted to know what was going on,” she said.
“I wanted that conformation that I was right the whole time about the fact I am different, and not just anxious and a hypochondriac.”
After going through the process with her mother by her side, Nicole received her ASD Level 2 diagnosis.
While she has had a tough year after losing her father who she was very close with to cancer, Nicole is on top of her condition, and is taking medication to assist with anxiety and depression.
Nicole and her boyfriend, Ethan
NICOLE IS COMPLEMENTING NEW HOBBIES AND PASSIONS WITH HER NDIS PLAN GOALS
Finally feeling like she fits in, Nicole’s NDIS plan goals around capacity building, social interaction and domestic support complements her new hobbies and passions.
Taking an interest in 3D printing, Nicole has created a tactile puzzle for sensory style toys for Autistic kids and has also made key rings with hopes to open an Etsy (online arts and crafts) store for selling her items.
Fittingly, her ambitions combine with Nicole’s passion and drive to be an inspiration for others with a disability through her degree and long-term career goal.
“I feel the system can let us down and for me, there were signs everywhere,” Nicole said.
“When I was at school, I’d stay home a lot as I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t act out and get in trouble, but I’d do things like give an oral presentation to the class from another room by myself, and people like me need a friend, and the right supports to deal with things like that.
“I’ve also seen a lot of people I know struggle to find a job and keep a job, and people with disability can really struggle with that.
“But I can see the potential in them, and I want to be in someone’s corner to provide them with the tools they need, and promote them to employers, to show their skills and how they can be massive assets.
“I’ve gotten a lot better in dealing with my condition and I want to help others and pass on what I’ve learned.”
Nicole and her brothers