Yooralla customer Tim Jong is a step closer to achieving his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) goal of becoming a professional writer, after winning the 2019 Dulcie Stone Writers Competition for his submission titled ‘Getting to Know Me’ (please see below).
The inaugural Dulcie Stone Writers Competition, run by VALID and Writers Victoria, is open to people with intellectual disability, and is designed to showcase their voices.
Tim, who attends Yooralla’s St Albans Community Hub, said that writing has always been his passion, but before the NDIS it was challenging as he couldn’t type fast.
“Now, through my NDIS plan, I have one-on-one support one day a week, which means my support worker can type what I dictate,” said Tim, who has cerebral palsy.
Yooralla has been supporting Tim, who attends the Hub every day, to work towards achieving his NDIS goal of becoming a writer.
Deo Jr Vinola, Service Leader at the St Albans Community Hub, said Tim was invited to contribute articles to the Hub’s quarterly newsletter that goes out to customers and their families and carers, to gain practical writing experience. Tim also prepares Power Point presentations for Hub meetings.
Disability Support Workers, Vanessa Sampson and Sharon Rivas, who teach literacy skills as part of Employability and Life Skill programs at the Hub and support Tim with typing, as well as grammar and punctuation, said the team was very proud of him for winning the competition.
“Tim is very focused and works really hard towards achieving his NDIS goal. We are excited for his future as a writer,” said Sharon.
Getting to Know Me
By Timothy Jong
It was wintery freezing night of June when I decided to pop out of my Mum.
I was an energetic bouncing baby when I popped out of this wonderful world. After a couple of days, drama began when my Mum cried to Dad “Oh no! Look, what’s wrong with him?”
I was crying non-stop. My parents rushed me to Royal Children’s Hospital and there the doctors discovered a smelly yellow dermoid cyst sitting on my spine with oozing puss. Doctor Clug who was looking after me back then, did emergency surgery to remove the puss in my spine.
Later on I was given the diagnosis of Cerebral palsy, which affects the messages coming from the brain to my body. This causes muscles to be stiff. This causes the muscles in my mouth, tongue and throat to be affected, impairing my speech and how I communicate with other people.
For myself, I can communicate verbally and for others who cannot understand me, I have the option of using my speech device, which I can use to type, save messages and talk to people who don’t understand me. Sometimes I feel like the people are rushing me.
If I feel this way, I stop and ignore them. Eventually my hand will open up with ease. Sometimes people who are familiar with how I verbalise still have trouble understanding me. I have to take it one word at a time to get the full message.
I need people to fully concentrate and take time to get my full message. I also need you to look at me in the eyes and my non-verbal cues to understand me more.
Expressing myself is important to me for so many reasons. I need people to listen to me so people can understand what I want. I want to be heard and not to be left behind. I want to voice out my opinion and exercise my rights like everyone else. Do you understand what I mean?