13 Mar Finding family over a bowl of weetbix
Ryan didn’t get an easy start to life. Growing up with a mild intellectual disability and a Mum with who wasn’t coping, Ryan was the kind of little boy who sat on the couch and didn’t say anything – too overwhelmed to communicate or interact with people or the world around him. During his childhood, the neglect he experienced at home meant he didn’t have access to education and never had his own room or even his own bed.
Ryan’s relatives Yoli and Gary first met Ryan when he was about 11. Several years later, when he was in his early twenties, they discovered that his Mum had moved out and left him to fend for himself. Ryan was angry, unkempt and surviving on a diet of Doritos and 12 cans of coke per day.
Yoli and Gary took Ryan into their home and, with the support of Uniting disability, the young man began to build a life he’s proud of.
The transition to family life wasn’t easy for Ryan or for Yoli. About five days in to the new living arrangement, Yoli calmly told Ryan, “I’ve made you breakfast this morning and you’re going to eat it,” handing him a bowl of weetbix.
“I don’t eat weetbix,” Ryan replied.
“Well you do now,” Yoli told him.
The pair smile as they remember the moment that became a turning point for them. Ryan started to put his trust in Yoli – laughing, joking and taking pride in keeping his new bedroom tidy.
Soon Ryan’s Uniting disability support consultant, Regina, found a two-day-a-week work placement for Ryan, as well as putting him in touch with programs where he could develop social skills and learn about the world around him. Since then, his confidence has gone from strength to strength.
Through his work, Ryan found a sense of personal achievement, made strong friendships and even fell in love for the first time.
“I love my work,” Ryan tells us in the video below. “Every day’s a perfect day for me.”
Ryan lived with Yoli and Gary for two years where he learned a wealth of skills for independent living. He recently transitioned to his own home in supported accommodation and has never been happier.
Ryan’s story teaches us that it’s often the little things that make life great. Watch his funny and heart-warming interview.