Learning in the face of adversity

Casey Thomas has been able to continue her learnings online

Tate Papworth

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the entire community, few more so than Burnside mum Fran Thomas.

Ms Thomas’ daughter Casey has Down syndrome, epilepsy and a moderate intellectual disability.

When restrictions came in, the doting mother worried about how her daughter would be able continue to work towards her goals.

“When COVID-19 hit I thought ‘how are we going to continue to work towards Casey’s goals when we are so restricted in what we can do, and where we can go’,” she said.

“Immediately, I contacted Interact Australia (her chosen provider) and organised a meeting with all four of Casey’s regular support workers.

“They have all worked with her for years. They know her likes and dislikes, and what she is and isn’t capable of, so we all met to discuss what alternative activities we could put in place so Casey’s goals would stay on track so she wouldn’t regress.”

With a bit of creativity and imagination, they came up with an alternative daily routine.

“We also involved Casey’s therapists so she had a whole new home-based program to work on, which kept her moving forward,” Ms Thomas said.

“Casey hadn’t used her iPad for online therapies before so we thought a good first step was to introduce her to Skype to get her familiar and comfortable with using it.

“When she first saw her friends pop up on her iPad, right in front of her, you should have seen her reaction. It was priceless.”

Ms Thomas said Casey’s entire support team have gone above and beyond during the pandemic.

“They were instrumental, all working collaboratively, with Casey’s best interests at heart, to make sure she transitioned to a new, productive and safe routine,” she said.

“Casey’s exercise physiologist recommended and approved gym equipment for her to use at home and we were able to purchase it all with her NDIS funding.

“Just simple pieces of equipment, like dumbbells and resistance bands, which weren’t costly, just so she could continue to work on increasing her muscle tone while at home.”

For more information about the NDIS, visit www.ndis.gov.au.