Mum’s ‘biggest fear’ for disabled sons
FOR the first time in a long time, Jane Wyatt is looking forward to a restful and relaxing summer holiday break with all her family close by.
Jane and her husband Boyd have spent much of the past three decades caring for two sons with disabilities, leaving them little spare time for their other children, extended families and friends.
They have also lived with the fear of financial ruin, physical collapse and – above all else – what would happen to their boys if they weren’t around to care for them.
But since moving to Kyogle two years ago and sons Daniel and Dayne joining the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), life has turned around.
“We’re finally starting to live as a family,” Mrs Wyatt said.
“Before it was ‘it’s Dayne, it’s Daniel, it’s Dayne, it’s Daniel’, plus we were working hard running our own business, and by the time you got home you just wanted to curl up and sleep for days.”
Daniel is Mrs Wyatt’s son by her first marriage and he suffered a severe brain injury at birth which has left him with the mental age of a small infant.
Now 32, he is non-verbal and requires around-the-clock care with intense oversight at meal times as he is in danger of choking every time he eats.
He has mobility issues and uses a wheelchair but, thanks to intense support since he was a child, he can stand unassisted and walk short distances.
Younger brother Dayne has autism and experiences acute anxiety and psychosis, making it hard for him to manage his emotional state and restricting his ability to make friends.
By 2017 the family had decided that living in Brisbane was too stressful.
They started to look around for somewhere quieter where Dayne could finish school and where daily living would be more affordable.
“One weekend Boyd hopped on his bike and rode south to Kyogle, and that was it – it just had everything we wanted,” Mrs Wyatt said.
Dayne moved down with his parents and finished high school in 2018.
Now 19, he has found volunteer work on a nearby dairy farm and is attending SAE Institute in Byron Bay where he studies film editing.
“The dairy farmer is also a school teacher and has six sons of his own,” Mrs Wyatt said.
“Dayne goes there every weekend and often sleeps over – they’ve become a second family to him.
“The cows and the farm environment have really helped Dayne with his anxiety and he’s also learning how to manage his relationships with help from a psychologist funded under his plan.
“My biggest fear was always that Dayne would wind up homeless.
“Now I can see Dayne actually getting a job as a film editor and eventually being able to live on his own.”
Daniel lives close by in a home purchased by his family and modified using his NDIS funding.
He moved into his new place in July once the bathroom renovation was complete and a ramp had been installed at the front of his house.
Mrs Wyatt Daniel will never be able to live independently but his mood and outlook have changed a lot for the better since joining the NDIS and having a behaviour support management plan in place.
“He has a team of four support workers who come to his home seven days a week, providing one-on-one care 24 hours a day,” she said.
“They take it in shifts and also take him for outings around the local area.
“They are all young men roughly his own age, which he much prefers.”
Daniel’s NDIS plan funds regular sessions with a speech pathologist, who is working to improve his ability to chew and swallow food.
She also trains his support workers in how to manage his eating.