Kayla’s proving the doctors wrong

By Kayla Gibson and Kate Reid, 4 June 2019 , Comments

Kayla Gibson is a typical 20-year-old. She’s bright, bubbly, and full of dreams for her future - including moving out of home and working as a writer or motivational speaker.

But this wasn’t always the case. As a child Kayla was told she may not ever see adulthood.

We spoke to Kayla to find out why she’s feeling hopeful for the future and how Northcott has been there to provide support along the way.

“I was told I wouldn’t live to see my 21st birthday. But in October I will have achieved the goal I’ve been focusing on ever since I was a kid - to show the doctors that they were wrong.

My name’s Kayla and I have a disability called Kniest Dysplasia. It affects the connective tissue in my body which causes issues with my bones and joints. Because of this I have to use a wheelchair, I’m blind in one eye and I have profound hearing loss – among other things. It’s so rare that I wasn’t given a proper diagnosis until I was 10 - we only know of three other people in Australia who have it.

Luckily though, mum heard about Northcott when I was just three-years-old. She took me to their Parramatta office to have a look around and find out more about their early learning program. Mum was really impressed with the program, so I started there straight away. I was nervous at first, but because I was around other kids with disability I didn’t feel like I was the odd one out. It made me very happy. Because of the positive experience we had with Northcott I went on to join their program that supports kids with getting ready to start school.

When I got to the end of high school and began to think about my future, I knew I needed Northcott’s support again. This chapter of my life was not something I ever thought I would reach because of my diagnosis. My mum and I always say that all throughout our lives we’ve been blessed with the right people at the right time – and that’s certainly been the case with Northcott. My school put us in touch with the Oak Flats office, and though I had only met Marney, the Everyday Life Skills Coordinator, a few times, she remembered who I was. She got in touch with us to let me know that they were starting an Everyday Life Skills program that I might be interested in. Once again, we were so impressed with what Northcott had to offer that mum actually moved my family to the area we live in now to make it easier for me to go to Northcott.

I was a bit hesitant about the Everyday Life Skills program at first, as I’m quite an anxious person, but I gave it a go and I’m so glad I did because I loved it! I made friends really quickly and I went from spending all my time at home in bed, not wanting to socialise, to now spending all my time out. I’ve definitely come out of my shell. Mum often jokes that she never sees me anymore!

Through the program I have grown so much and everyone around me can see it. I’m learning how to cook, manage a budget, socialise, get better at dealing with change and be more independent. Even the anxiety I have experienced through most of my life has become more manageable. With these new skills I’m now starting to dream more about my future, a future I didn’t think I would ever have!

Recently the idea of moving out of home came up. My mum is getting older and my granddad’s not well, so mum wants to make sure I have support for when she is no longer around. Before Northcott, neither of us thought that would be an option for me. In fact, the idea scared me because I wasn’t sure what options were available to me, but mum says she’s seen me blossom through the support of Northcott and now I’m actually excited about having my own place and my independence.

It’s still a few years off, but we have started talking to Northcott and Marney about what options might be available to me. Some of my friends have recently moved into a home together in Dapto with the support of Northcott. When I heard about that I instantly said, “yes I’ll do it!” I think mum was in shock because I never entertained the idea in the past.

I know I want to live with friends, be close to mum and my family so we can still see each other often, and of course I want to be close to Northcott. I feel comfortable now about moving out, as I will have the Northcott staff that I know and trust there to support me.

With Northcott I can now have a life. I don’t need mum to be with me every step of the way and I know it makes her feel better knowing I have that support. She often says that she now knows I will be fine and she won’t need to worry about me. With the support of Northcott, my friends and the NDIS I don’t have to rely on mum 24/7.

I’m now thinking about my life and what I want to do. I dream of being a published writer or a motivational speaker so I can tell others why it’s important to follow your dreams.

Without Northcott’s support I probably would still be like I was before, stuck in bed thinking there weren’t any options for my future. Northcott’s support has definitely changed me for the best, and they’ve always been there at the times that we needed support with that change. I often joke that I’ll probably be with Northcott until they don’t want me anymore.

Today, I don’t remember a time without Northcott. In the beginning we didn’t even know if I would be here to see adulthood, but now I’m excited about the future.”

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Want to help us empower young adults with disability? Click here to find out how you can give to Northcott.

Read about how Heather, Cara and Jamie went from family home to first home with the support of Northcott.

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