My name is Catherine. My husband and I are caring for our son, Christopher. Christopher was born in 1977 and was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder with Moderate Intellectual Disability.

Christopher displays very uninhibited behaviour and has no understanding of the value of money. He needs constant supervision and protection because he is very vulnerable. As he is a tall man with childlike behaviour, members of the public are sometimes afraid of him and need to be reassured he is harmless. He is sensitive and has a fear of dogs and loud noises.

Chris and his Mum Catherine

Since our son left school he has been employed in a sheltered workshop. He has to be transported to and from the workshop five days a week.  My husband and I share this responsibility as we are now both only working part-time. We also transport him to and from a dancing class on Monday evenings, swimming on Tuesday evenings, a group activity on Wednesday evenings, gym on Friday afternoons and another group activity on Saturdays.  Needless to say, having to care for our son has impacted greatly on the type of careers paths we wished to follow.

We have now been in the caring role for more than 32 years and until about ten years ago, we had a sense of security believing that once we were unable to care for our intellectually disabled son, he would be cared for in a place like Crowle Home, which provided excellent care for people with intellectual disability in the Ryde district.

It came as a tremendous blow to us to find that that security has been completely removed by current government initiatives. We will be expected to keep caring for our son until we literally drop and a crisis arises. Our hopes had been to establish our son (our only child) into a suitable facility where he would be cared for and in which we could assist with the transition process until he settled.  We have literally had the rug pulled from under us and I joined the RASAID group (as a Foundation Member) in order to lobby along with other parents for suitable supported accommodation for our intellectually disabled children. Like the other members of RASAID, I have run out of steam and am on the verge of exhaustion and frustration, as I feel all our efforts to get our intellectually disabled offspring settled into an appropriate facility are in vain.

I wish to see a purpose built facility established in the Ryde area in which our “children” who have grown up together sharing in each other’s lives, problems, etc. could live as a supported community. Failure for this to happen in the near future would cause further frustration and would certainly expedite the onset of a crisis situation in our family.