Reclaiming identity

Melissa Noonan

Hi, I am Melissa. I was involved in a trauma accident in 2003 where I went to board a train, and unfortunately the door closed as I was stepping on, and I fell between the train and the platform. So the train kept going. I’m very lucky to be alive.

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Timothy Braund

I’m 19 years old, living with my parents and studying at university. I was diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) when I was twelve years old, after being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at the age of six. I was told it’s like supersonic hearing - I can hear everything around me. This makes it extremely difficult for me to discern certain sounds or focus on one particular voice. I’m bombarded with noise at all times.

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Michael Farnden

The accident happened on the 13th of May 2008. I was on my way out to my girlfriend Jen’s house at Myponga. She had needed urgent major surgery and I was spending every night at her house helping her out. We were committed to each other and just hit it off. On the way out to her place one night a kangaroo jumped in front of my car and apparently I hit it. I was driving my Mitsubishi twin-cab four wheel drive that had a bull-bar on it. Because of the size of the kangaroo, it went under my car. My car was bouncing a bit and the front wheels turned to the right, and when it hit the road again, it shot me across the road and that’s when I hit the oncoming Ford. The lady in the Ford died.

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Shaun Gallagher

Shaun’s disability occurred due to a lack of oxygen at birth. He experienced some brain damage. Back then doctors and nurses did not describe it as an intellectual disability - they just advised me to put him into an institution. Of course I refused and took him home.

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Shiloh Moore

I first showed strange symptoms of severe, constant migratory pain, weakness and loss of energy, and other symptoms of multisystem dysfunction at age 10. It took four years to be diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) (previously called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia Syndrome. By then I’d had to pull out of beloved activities including flute, hockey and debating, then school too. I had to cut off my beautiful long hair as it gave me intense headaches and back pain. It felt like I was losing my self completely to the illness.

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Danyele Foster

My name is Danyele and I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS or Autistic Spectrum Condition) in 2007 when I was 26 years old. Before my diagnosis I consistently experienced misunderstanding and isolation. My life has not been easy or pleasant and in many ways, even after my diagnosis which altered my life, it is a struggle.

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Neil Ashman

I’m 50 years old and live with partial (also known as incomplete) quadriplegia. I had a boating accident in 1976 at Goolwa and broke my neck. It means I can’t do all the things I dreamed of when I was a kid. I lost the use of both my legs and I have only partial use of my arms. I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream of being a farmer on my parent’s farm at Kapinnie, 100 kilometres from Port Lincoln.

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Narelle Glanfield

I went to work as usual one Saturday morning and by noon I had triple vision, a sonic screeching noise in my ears and I couldn't stand up straight without losing my balance. By that evening I was slurring my words as though I was drunk and was nearly unable to walk or use my arms and hands. I was taken to a GP who sent me to the emergency department of the local hospital. They told me they thought I’d had a stroke or possibly had a brain tumour and did the relevant tests. They found nothing. I was sent to a hospital in the city where more tests where done and it was found that I had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I had just turned 19 years old three days before.

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Pauline David

I’m a 32 year old woman living with Spina Bifida (SB). I am currently employed with Spinal Cord Injuries Australia as a Co-Facilitator of a Self Empowerment Program (and I love it!). I have lived on my own, independently, since September 2006. I receive personal care support but manage everything else myself.

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Malcolm Mayfield

I am 44 years old. I have been married for almost 20 years. I am the Managing Director of a company and the author of an internationally acclaimed book. I also have a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome which I received when I was 37 years young. The company I manage is Autism STAR Pty Ltd, where STAR stands for Spectrum, Training, Advocacy and Recruitment. My business website can be found at:

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Jeremy Hawkes

I undertook a visual arts degree in northern New South Wales. According to my mother I have always been an artist, even as a small child. I worked in community arts with people living with disability and moved down to Melbourne to work with children and various groups doing art.

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Belinda Owen

When I was a teenager, I was like pretty much every teenager trying to assert my independence. I was a little stubborn and I wanted to do everything my friends were doing. In my small school, music was a big thing, and with a bunch of my friends starting bands, lunch times were spent at practices and weekends at shows.

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Sam Cawthorn

Sam was 26 years old when his life changed forever. He experienced a devastating motor-vehicle accident which left him in a coma and with many traumatic injuries including an amputated right arm and impaired right leg. This was in addition to a range of internal injuries which continued to threaten his life. Doctors did not give Sam very promising the future, telling him that he would never walk. This story is not uncommon. People have accidents and receive traumatic injuries everyday with the result of permanent disability.

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Jo Blesing

In 2004 I was diagnosed with a severe form of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was left with no choice but to leave my adopted hometown of Melbourne - along with my friends, my sister, ex-husband and step children - to return to my original hometown of Adelaide. This was an emotionally distressing process which was sadly compounded by the passing of my dog shortly after. He was my last remaining link with Melbourne.

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Chris Keen

I’ve had MS since 1990. I’ve now got secondary progressive MS. I'm separated and have two adult children - a 27 year old daughter and a 24 year old son. My son lives at home with me. I live at Hope Valley and in many ways the house I live in is not really the best place for me now and it won’t be in the next couple of years. We will be selling it.

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FaithThorley 2

I’m a visual artist and have had a passion for art all of my life. I’m also a ‘life-long learner’ and have combined my love of making art with being an educator. I’ve always had a passion for making art but didn’t appreciate how important it was in my life until I was in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of a hospital in Adelaide following brain tumour surgery in 1990.

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Carolyn Campbell-McLean

In recent times I have been asked a lot about how I manage my care support at home. This, together with thinking about the NDIS National Disability Insurance Scheme) and how support can be much more individualised, spurred me to write about my experiences. I hope it will explain some of what I do and what I have learnt along the way to those of you who might be looking at self-directed supports at home.

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Michele Thredgold

Hi my name is Michele. I have been totally blind since birth. My condition is called Congenital Microphthalmia—which simply means ‘tiny, tiny eyes’. When I was forming in my mother's womb the eyes, and the motor-works that drive the seeing part of the brain didn't form properly. All those cells just died off and so, seeing is mentally—as well as physically—an alien concept to me.

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Kerry Telford

I live in Adelaide with my partner and two cats. I have lived alongside MS for 20 years. I have a part-time job in the disability sector as a research officer. Mine is no extraordinary story. I think I have done what many people do; that is, go after the desire to live a good life.

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John McKenna

John’s story is about his life with a congenital physical disability. He has never let his disability stand in the way of his goals. It was his strong desire to lead an independent life and his willingness to take risks in life that directed him to try new ways of getting support and make his own life choices.

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Elizabeth Neal

Hi, I am Elizabeth. I was born in Bourke, New South Wales (NSW). I live in Tasmania at the moment (although not for much longer) but I don’t fall into the Tasmanian demographic of having been more likely to develop MS (multiple sclerosis).

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Laurence Bryne

Laurence is 24 years old and lives with athetoid Cerebral Palsy. He lives in the Adelaide Hills with his parents, his sister Ella and his dog Tye. Laurence attends university on a limited basis through a mentoring partnership. Ingrid, Laurence’s mother says that Laurence is part of the ‘Up The Hill’ project, which means he has a mentor to take him to one topic a semester, and he can stay in the program for three years. He’ll get a certificate at the end of it. It’s called an ‘audited topic’, and so it’s optional to put in written work for assessment. He’s able to take part in tutorials, seminars and attend lectures. When asked about his experience of the program, Laurence says, “It is good. I meet people.”

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Glenda Lee

I think sometimes people are pushed into leadership, because that is what happened to me. I was brought up in a small country town in South Australia and lived a fairly ordinary life until I was 14 when I was sent to the Somerton Crippled Children's Home in Adelaide for three months of intensive physio.

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Michael Taggart

I was born in Adelaide South Australia in 1952 and was adopted soon after birth. I was born with low vision, undiagnosed until I was five. Until I was 29 years old I used no mobility aids. I blinked a lot more than most people, because my eyes were super sensitive to glare and were trying to shut out the light. This was the only constant indication of having an impairment and only in conditions of bright light.

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Margaret Cooper

Right now I am involved in advocacy for people ageing with long-term disabilities. I live in my own unit and need assistance from carers three times a day. They are rostered by me but each one is hired and paid by one of three service providers. After retiring from paid work I took up post-graduate study into disability advocacy and then into the experiences of people ageing with long-term physical impairments. My careful diet, swimming, helpful carers and fun with family and friends all keep me healthy.

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Jala Burton

I am 24 years old and have lived with Cerebral Palsy (CP) since complications at birth. The form of Cerebral Palsy I live with, Spastic Quadriplegia, affects the muscle tone and motor coordination in all four of my limbs and core, along with my balance. These physical impairments have meant that navigating through a large majority of everyday living tasks does not come without complications.

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Phil Herreen

My interest in Speedway started way back in 1962 and spanned some 30 years. In 1992, I finally achieved my goal of winning the National Speedcar Championship and decided to retire from racing at the end of the 1993 season. On April 2 1993, during the last race of the season – the State Speedcar Championship – I was involved in a crash and my car was catapulted over a five metre safety fence. I didn’t realise at the time that I was outside the race circuit in the spectator area. I thought I was hanging on the safety fence because I could see members of the crash crew and paramedics below me.

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Grace Bowman

Grace grew up with her parents, David and Stephanie, and twin sisters in Moonta on the Yorke Peninsula. She started out as just another young country girl with a dream to have her own pony. Before and after school she would ride her bike to clean out the stables and ride and feed her horse. "All I wanted to do was ride," she says.

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Jim Stallard

Jim Stallard had a devastating fall which resulted in him sustaining C6 quadriplegia. It was the beginning of a marathon of medical and surgical procedures, and intensive rehabilitation.

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Kate Swaffer

My name is Kate Swaffer, I have a younger onset frontal temporal dementia, and I am here to tell you my deeply personal story.

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Dale Elliott

I had a motorbike injury at the end of 2002. Now I’m a T10 complete paraplegic. I’m in a wheelchair all the time. I can’t move my legs or walk. I can’t feel anything from about my bellybutton down.

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Flick Hunt

Flick (Felicity): I am a 29 year old woman living independently in the community. I share with a friend living with a disability. I live with cerebral palsy and use a communication device to assist her with communicating and a wheelchair for mobility.

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FaithThorley 2

I’m a visual artist and have had a passion for art all of my life. I’m also a ‘life-long learner’ and have combined my love of making art with being an educator. I’ve always had a passion for making art but didn’t appreciate how important it was in my life until I was in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) of a hospital in Adelaide following brain tumour surgery in 1990.

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