Harrison finds a new home
But one of the few words he say clearly is ‘Mum’ which he first learnt to articulate at the age of 3.
Harrison is 25 years old now and stands 6 feet tall, but his mother, Diana, clearly remains the centre of his world.
Harrison was diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis when he was just 10 weeks old. Tuberous Sclerosis is an uncommon genetic disorder that causes benign tumours to develop in different parts of the body.
While the symptoms vary, in Harrison’s case it resulted in severe cognitive and learning disability, behavioural concerns and repetitive seizures – sometimes up to 100 in a day.
Those initial days were very tough, Diana recalls.
“There was no real support or awareness of this condition – we were lucky that a resident doctor who had come across this disease earlier in his career managed to diagnose Harrison. There was no NDIS back then in 1997 and all I used to get from Centrelink was a Carer Allowance of $62 each fortnight.”
Harrison loves dancing and the feel of water. As a child, he used to splash around for hours in the outdoor spa pool that was donated by Endless Spa.
Harrison went to Melton Specialists School. His condition meant he always had to grapple with social and emotional adjustment issues. But Harrison enjoyed his time at school and even made a mate there named Jessie.
“Harrison was so excited when he went up to get his certificate on graduation day,” Diana laughs. It was one of the proudest days of her life, she says.
As she describes it, “Honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to both of us! It has made Harrison more independent and assured.”
Harrison has been making up for lost time at his new home. Recently, he and his house-mates enjoyed a train ride to Ballarat.
They regularly go to the neighbourhood park and visit Woodgrove – the local shopping center Harrison used to go to as a teenager.
Sometimes Diana joins them on these outings and cherishes the time spent with her youngest son.
Harrison has adjusted well to his new surroundings. Scope’s SIL home located in Melton South is a spacious property with 4 bedrooms, two living rooms, kitchen area and a sprawling rear yard. It is specially built for participants such as Harrison, who have higher support needs.
For Diana, it’s a bitter-sweet feeling as she watches Harrison learn to live on his own.
Her concerns, like those of other aging parents looking after adult children with disabilities, are real. She was always aware of the need to plan for Harrison’s future and yet found it difficult to let go.
As Diana says, ”I was apprehensive initially of sending him to a supported living property. Moving out of the family home is a huge step and I’m very proud of how Harrison has handled it. It’s probably been tougher for me than him!”
“With both of us being in Melton, it’s made things a little easier,” she concedes.
Diana is very appreciative of the staff at Scope’s home. His carer Patrick, Jo the house coordinator and team leader Linda have helped ease Harrison’s transition to an independent lifestyle.
“Honestly, I can’t tell you how much their support means to me,” says Diana.
“I sometimes take Harrison doughnuts and we sit together in his new home.”
“He hugs me affectionately and this long journey feels worth it.”