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

Read more participant stories

From bugs to hugs – life is looking up

“She always wants to hug you! She hugs you 10 times in 10 minutes!” exclaims Broken Hill Local Area Coordinator Angela Turner, speaking of her National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant Marg. Marg often drops by the Social Futures Office in Broken Hill...

read more

From homebound to outward bound

Nicole was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in December 2009. She tells her story in her own words: I went to the doctor because I had three cold fingers and that's when I got the diagnosis. It was devastating. I was a full-time working mother and it seemed like...

read more

Tailored care helps Joseph spread his wings

Joseph's birthday in November last year was a double celebration - turning 40, and spending his first year as a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant.   He marked the occasion with a concert in front of 80 invited guests, singing covers of his...

read more

From hobby sketching to the Archibald Prize

When Zion Levy Stewart first started sketching people who visited his family home at age 20, everyone thought it might help him pass the time. Twenty years on, this National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participant was an entrant in this year's 2019 Archibald...

read more

There’s no place like home

Just a few years ago, Tammy had reached the point of considering moving into supported accommodation due to the impact of her disability. The long-term Forbes resident was increasingly isolated and incapacitated by Devic’s disease, caused by the inflammation and...

read more

Get new stories from NDIS Participants in your inbox

* indicates required

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This