Touchstone Volume 25 (Autumn) - Page 8

REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT A year in the life Ava Balestrin was one of the first people to receive an NDIS package in Townsville. One year on, we sat down with Ava’s mum Jess to find out how different life is with the NDIS. Jess Balestrin, mum to 4-year-old Ava, has one message for individuals and families getting ready for the NDIS: start planning now. “We saw a social worker at CPL and I don’t think that I would be anywhere near as prepared if it wasn’t for her. We spent heaps of time with CPL while we were writing a plan. They helped me create really detailed goals for Ava and gave me all these ideas about things that we wanted and how to articulate it,” Jess explained. “I had all of our goals in mind, I knew exactly what we wanted. I just didn’t know how to speak NDIS language and put them on paper and that’s where CPL were a great help. “For us, the NDIS represents much better access to things like equipment for Ava. Not long after we had Ava’s plan approved, she’s got her new chair and we’ve got a modified vehicle. “When we looked into that before NDIS, we were told an amount that we would be able to access for a car and that would have been only for a manual ramp and even then we would have had to pay quite a big gap. 8 “All I do is that I save all of my invoices, I have a little workbook every time Ava has an appointment, I just write down what appointments she’s had and then CPL invoices me at the end of the month. And that’s it. “I was a bit nervous about doing it myself, but CPL let me know that I can switch back to support coordination anytime so it’s good to have that option too,” she said. Looking to the future, Jess has one major goal for Ava: independent communication. “ Independent communication, or as independent as she can get, is what we’re working towards currently. ” “She is an Augmented Alternative Communication (AAC) user, so she uses her PODD to communicate and she communicates very well. We started off with AAC when she was about nine months old. “As soon as we went over the NDIS, all we had to do was put in the paperwork and it was approved,” Jess explained. “At the moment she is doing partner assisted, so she really needs me or someone else there. Down the track as we are heading into school it would be great if she could do that on her own. Even just initiate communication on her own, that would be good. Jess self manages Ava’s plan and explained that she’s finding it easier t han anticipated. “She has got a lot to say and she’s a pretty happy kid,” Jess said. Touchstone Autumn 2017 You can follow Jess and Ava’s journey on their Facebook page ‘The Adventures of Ava Lou’ at Before your first planning meeting, we suggest talking through with your family and (any carers who already support you) about what’s missing in your current support, activities and plans and your quality of life. The goal is to get a better idea of what you believe you need and what will work for you, your family and carers. CPL has put together an NDIS Planning Workbook that’s designed to help you get the most from your meeting. Get your free copy here: