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Madeleine Thompson dreamed of becoming a nurse when she was still in primary school. Now she’s living the dream, having recently secured a permanent role as an Assistant in Nursing at St Joseph’s Nursing Home in the northern NSW town of Lismore.

“I’m really enjoying it,” Madeleine says. “I’m on nights three or four shifts a week which has taken a bit of adjustment, eight hours each shift and finishing at 7.30am.”

To get to where she is now hasn’t been an easy road for Madeleine, now 20. She was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism/Aspergers while in primary school, and struggled with understanding social cues and maintaining friendships throughout her school years.

“I had to move schools due to bullying,” Madeleine says. “My diagnosis is a lot less common in females than males and it just marked me out as different to anyone else in my peer group.

“My autism is very mild but the ADHD did affect my ability to focus on schoolwork, plus the classroom environment could be a bit difficult due to my heightened sensitivity to noises and other distractions – things like tapping pens, clicking heels or certain smells.”

Madeleine joined the National Disability Insurance Scheme when it rolled out across the Northern Rivers region in 2017 and has been supported by NDIS Local Area Coordinator partner in the community Social Futures since then.

“I spent most of my high school years at a school where they gave me a lot of educational support but the therapeutic supports I receive through my NDIS plan have been really good for my social skills,” she says.

“Since leaving school at the end of 2018 I’ve put a plan manager in place and now make my own decisions about the supports I receive, with support from my Local Area Coordinator, Trudy, as required.”

After finishing school she enrolled in a six-month TAFE course to gain her Health Services Assistant in Aged and Acute Care Certificate while working part-time. Her course included a week’s work placement at St Vincent’s Hospital in Lismore and another week at St Joseph’s, before graduating in December 2019.

“The aged care manager at St Joseph’s asked me at the end of my work placement whether I would consider applying for a job there,” she says. “At the time I was more interested in pursuing the clinical side but I decided to apply anyway. I’ve loved the journey so far, and it will set me up for what I want to do later on. I’m aiming to work for a year and then study registered nursing at Southern Cross Uni, ” she said.

The NDIS provides Australians who have a permanent and significant disability with the supports they need to live more independently. To talk to a Social Futures Local Area Coordinator, call 1800 522 679.