Regular speech therapy has Kristian starting to say words

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Kings Park parents, Jocelyn and Gary Diaz, had accepted the fact their youngest son, Kristian, wouldn’t talk and it was more than likely he would remain living with them.

Diagnosed at four, with a moderate intellectual disability and Autism, while prompted, he never uttered a word in 26 years.

For Jocelyn and Gary there was also the added worry about what would become of their adult son as they got older and what could they do to help build his capacity to become more independent so he could enjoy a more fulfilling life just like other men his age.

Two years down the track, as an NDIS participant, Jocelyn says the Scheme has changed Kristian’s life, and her family’s, for the better and it has given them hope for a much brighter future for their son.

“Now we have enough funding for Kristian to provide him with the right supports and we can’t believe what a difference it’s making,” she said.

“Not only has he started to verbalise but he is also living independently, with around the clock care, with two housemates, in a three-bedroom home. It’s a safe and nurturing environment and staff treat him just like family.

“Kristian’s story is just wonderful,” Jocelyn said. “It’s something we never imagined was going to happen and it couldn’t have been any better. We are very thankful the NDIS came into our lives,” she said.

Kristian Diaz sitting on the couch, with a plate on his hand, gets a kiss on the cheek

“Prior to the NDIS, supports were so difficult to get. Back when I was raising my children, it was so expensive. We just couldn’t afford them.”

Jocelyn said Kristian has been doing a combination of speech and occupational therapies for just over a year now.

“He is participating in regular activities and strategies with his Afford therapist (their chosen provider) and it’s helped him to develop confidence and a willingness to communicate,” she said.

“A few months ago one of his support workers said he was looking down at his shoes and he said, “Shoe, shoe, shoe”. It was such a beautiful moment. I cried. I just couldn’t believe it. He’s also starting to say other words so he is really leaping forward.”

Ecstatic about Kristian’s results, Jocelyn and Gary say none of this would have been possible without NDIS funding to ensure their son had the continuity of supports he needed, and for the sheer dedication and determination of Kristian’s Afford team.

“I’m just so thankful to everyone involved… for all the speech and occupational therapies, for the behavioural interventions and all the other supports he has been able to receive.

“He is saying words… I mean after all this time! I am just amazed,” Jocelyn said.

Knowing what supports now work best for her son, Jocelyn is keen to replicate Kristian’s next NDIS plan.

“This will be his third year with the NDIS,” she said. “I can see what’s working so I’m going to stick with those supports.

“I’m hoping by continuing with them, Kristian will really go forward.”