Transition to Community Living Brings Many Rewards
Stuart Iredale has won an Achievement Award 2016.
Stuart Iredale is now 58 years old. He is affected by Fragile X and has another mutation on his 4Q chromosome – he has what they call a ‘double hit’. For the past eight years, has lived in the community in an Achieve Foundation group home with two other men. He is actively engaged in the community, enjoying music, singing, dancing and bowling. He helps with household chores and very much enjoys the banter that goes with shared living.
However, life for Stuart has not always been like this. For 45 years, Stuart lived in an institution where there was little stimulation or organised activity, variable quality of staff and the frequent use of sedatives to keep him calm. With the support of his siblings, Stuart was moved into a group home and since then, has become much more verbal and significantly happier.
His sister Robyn nominated him for a Achievement Award in recognition of him making the adjustment and for his involvement in a number of community activities, specifically music and bowling.
Since moving to the group home, Stuart’s life has changed from one where he had very little to keep him simulated or occupied to one with a full and active schedule. He contributes to the daily running of the home doing chores such as wiping the dishes, setting the table, hanging out washing and helping with shopping. He also attends a weekly individual music therapy session, a community workshop program three days a week where he excels at bowling, his favourite activity, and on two evenings a week, he joins others at a club where he enjoys music and dancing.
He also has his own room with a television and DVD player, and really enjoys his own space and the peace and quiet that goes with that.
Although there have been significant challenges associated with Stuart making the transition from institutionalisation to community living, Robyn and her siblings are extremely proud of him.
“We are certainly proud of his newfound bowling prowess and musical ability – he can recognise a tune from the first few bars and is performing at our Christmas concert this year!
“But we are also very relieved that Stuart will be able to live a much better life in a caring and supportive environment for his remaining years”, Robyn said.
There have also been a number of additional benefits to Stuart moving into the community.
“Prior to moving into the group home, Stuart barely spoke. He is now much more verbal and rings the family frequently.
“And after some initial opposition, all of Stuart’s siblings are now delighted with his new living arrangements. My brothers and sister are also very involved in various aspects of his life and my brothers help manage his finances and NDIS plan. This has added benefits as they also help keep the Achieve Foundation accountable”, explained Robyn.
When asked if she had any advice for other families looking to support their adult siblings with Fragile X, Robyn responded, “Stimulate, stimulate, stimulate and integrate, integrate, integrate. Never take no for an answer as you know your sibling’s capabilities the best”.