Matt's advice for young people with disabilities

What do young people with disabilities who are supported by Livability want out of life?

Livability supports under-30s in our education centres, our residential care settings and in supported living. Matt (19) tells us what’s important in life to him.

Support for young people

Livability Horizons, in Poole, is home to Matt. He’s one of a cohort of nine young adults with disabilities, some of whom stay for respite, who are gaining the skills and independence for the next step. Young people, aged 18 and upwards, can live at Horizons as they make the move into the adult world and navigate the challenges they face as child support drops away.

Matt continued at Livability Victoria School through the pandemic and he is looking to stay on an extra year at school, whilst living at Livability Horizons. Matt is a wheelchair user and non-verbal. He communicates with a voice output communication aid – VOCA – which speaks out what he types in, and with a book with images that he points to, in conversation.

Independent living

Matt’s goal is to live independently. ‘Matt has done well at school and is really good with figures,’ says Paula Thomas, Area Manager at Horizons. ‘We’ve enabled him to find a financial advocate to help with his benefits and with a budget. While he’s at Horizons, he wants to learn skills like cleaning, cooking and laundry, ready for supported living. He’s already made a fantastic chocolate cake for his birthday.’

Communication aids

Despite the fact that Matt doesn’t speak, he clearly communicates his determination and patience, both with working towards his goals, and also with the way that using a VOCA and communication book slows down what he wants to say. He is happy for someone who knows him well, like Paula, to help in the communication process; staff ask permission from him before doing this.

Tips for other young people

Matt expresses that he wants to ‘live with others’ in a supported living context, ideally closer to Bournemouth ‘for shopping’. Matt feels he has ‘grown as a person’ in his time at Horizons and he ‘likes school’. What are his tips for other young people with disabilities? Most importantly, he says, ‘be happy!’ And ‘talk to someone if you’re not happy’. Matt nods to indicate he has friends at Horizons that he can confide in when he’s not feeling on top of the world. ‘Make your own choices’, Matt adds – and ‘don’t give up!’


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