Often, the most valuable sources of information and support are other parents, carers and young people.
Learning Together is filled with the stories, ideas and experiences of diverse parents and carers of students with disabilities. It also draws on the knowledge of ACD’s staff, which comes from our years of supporting families, from our own lived experiences as parents and carers, and from our detailed knowledge of the system.
‘We do what we can’
We can learn from each other, and each other’s journeys. But in the end, every family needs to make the right decisions for their children and family. As Marie says:
“I learned early on that the best solution for the one child isn’t always the best solution for the whole family. It does make it tricky and you have to juggle more things. But I think most parents of a child with a disability know that. You just do the best that you can.
Within the community of families who have a child with a disability, people learn not to criticise. Because we all know, we all have our issues, and all our children are all so different.
And the issues are never the same with one child as they are with another. The only thing you can do is the best that you can do and just get on with it, you know. And I guess that’s how we’ve always lived, and that’s what we try and teach our kids, and do what we can.”
Thanks to all families for sharing their stories
This section contains longer stories of just a few families’ journeys through the education system. All of these parents also feature in our Learning Together videos. Many more families shared their experiences and knowledge for this project, and their stories and wisdom are woven throughout Learning Together, and the Rock Solid resource for Aboriginal families. We thank them all.
‘It’s been important for me to be his advocate, because if I didn’t do it, no one else would! … Charlie being diagnosed with autism has just changed my life completely. I’ve learned so much now, I want to help other families.’
‘Through this process, I’ve really started to go – you know what? People have jobs to do. People have things they need to get done. And I have my job to do. And that’s to advocate and support my son.’
‘If I wasn’t honest, it could have been a really horrible year, and I wouldn’t have formed the connection with the teacher. I wouldn’t have had the trust in her, to get through the year in a positive way.’
James and Sara’s story
‘You get over one hurdle, there’s something else that’s going to arise, sooner or later. You’ve just got to maintain your optimism, I guess. Aim high, because you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.’
‘When it really matters, he will share what’s important to him, and I can represent that. He trusts me to take care of him in that way. I will always encourage independence, but I will step back slowly, so he has confidence in doing those things.’
‘You can also see whether it’s going to work from the goals they set for your child. If all they’re interested in is, ‘Oh, his bad behaviour, we’ve got to get that right’. If they’re not challenging your child, it’s not going to work.’
Mel and Anthony’s story
‘Accepting help is something that has taken me a long time, but I’m open to it now. Because the more help I get, the more support I get for my family, the better off we’re going to be as we move forward.’