Wording up for a wider world

Wording up for a wider world

The world is making much more sense to Catherine Ryan since she was accepted onto the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).


The 33 year old lives in Orange and has experienced schizophrenia for as long as she can remember, disrupting her education and leaving her unable to read and write.

Now her NDIS-funded support worker, Debbie, is teaching Catherine a skill which is opening up her world and changing her life.

“I had to learn how to trust and everything with her (Debbie). She taught me how to read and write. I can read children’s books now. I can pretty much do what I’ve always wanted to do,” Catherine says.

She especially likes being able to write birthday cards to her daughter.

“I’m real happy with myself that I can actually do that!” she exclaims. “It’s helped us to have a better relationship, now we can read bedtime stories together. She asks for a bedtime story every night.”

Catherine has been supported through her NDIS journey by Orange-based Social Futures Local Area Coordinator, Frank Sheehan.

Prior to her NDIS funding Catherine struggled to get around. It wasn’t possible for her to understand bus timetables and not being able to read street or shop signs made the world a daunting place.

“Before the NDIS I struggled a lot with understanding and reading,” Catherine says. “I had to ask my mum for a lot of help with all that. I had to ask ‘mum, what does this mean? What does this say?’ I couldn’t do anything by myself. I feel more capable now.”

Being able to read signs as she goes past is life changing. “I now don’t have to ask people at the big stores, ‘what does that say?’ Because when I would ask them, they used to laugh at me. So that was sort of embarrassing. Now that I know what it says I don’t have to ask anymore.”

“It has helped me with just normal things in my daily life, like shopping. Debbie’s also teaching me how to shop and choose cheaper stuff. I used to get my dad to write down my shopping list and read it out when I went shopping. And now, I can write my own shopping list. I go through the catalogues, write it down, then I can go and do it. It makes me feel good. I feel proud of myself,” Catherine says.

Her increased confidence is also helping Catherine to connect with community: “Now I can go out in a crowd with Debbie. I’m not ready to go out on my own, but I feel pretty safe with Debbie. But on my own, I probably won’t feel safe. I’ll probably hide in a corner like I usually do.”

Catherine loves clothes shopping and especially loves her boots: “I have that many boots at home, half of them I haven’t worn! They’re all my favourite. Dad would get embarrassed ‘cause he had to walk into Crossroads clothes shop with me. Now I can go on my own.

“This year Debbie’s teaching me how to do maths and my timetables. She’s also helping me learn how to trust and communicate with other people better. The big problem at the moment is trust issues. I feel like if I could trust people more, I could go out into the community, I could probably be able to do other things. And reading and writing will be helping with my trust issues, because now I can communicate with people.

“It’s helped me out heaps, I’m really happy with the NDIS.”

Using her NDIS plan

Catherine’s NDIS supports have helped her:

  • Learn how to read and write
  • Improve her family relationships
  • Feel more confident
  • Engage more with her local community
  • Work on her trust issues

Social Futures is a National Disability Insurance Scheme Partner in the Community.
Our Local Area Coordination services connect participants to the NDIS in regional New South Wales.

To contact your nearest LAC call 1800 522 679

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