Reflecting back on 22 years of living independently in my own home with appropriate support is interesting! Currently I'm a person that gets 28 hours a week carer support. Basically what this consists of is assistance in getting up, physical therapy support, assistance with meal preparation and help to get to bed in the evening.

Initially in late November 1991 I was very naive regarding the ways of the world. Up until that point I had been very fortunate in the support of my family had given me regarding my personal carer support needs. Both my parents had provided the majority of this without complaint, and so what this meant was stability in my home life.

Making the choice to move out on my own was such an important emotional and psychological step for me – allowing me to grow as a person and learn many new things! Although at that particular time that I made the shift I have no idea what life would really have in store for me.

Some of my core convictions were challenged directly when I went into my own home. Because I wasn't independently wealthy, and didn’t have a healthy income, it was thought by the authorities because of my level of physical need (that's me wanting to live independently in my own home with the appropriate supports was somehow unusual). Just because someone has a physical disability that requires a large amount of assistance does not mean that they should be denied the life that they want to live!

In my opinion what the person see’s on the outside is very superficial. Unfortunately society in my opinion is verging towards the superficial anyway. So it makes anybody with a visible difference (whatever that might be) stand out still further.

Setting up home is a daunting prospect for anybody first time but, with the mind of a number of support services to help you live independently it seems to be magnified a little.

The biggest lessons I've learned over these years is; listen, accept differences and other people and try and be as happy as possible. In my life experience disability in itself is not the issue, it’s people’s attitude towards it which can oftentimes be a barrier.

Initially my thought was to accept everybody and anything that folk bring to the table. Listening to people and taking their advice does have limits. It depends on persons life experience and whether what they bring makes sense to you. Wherever possible I try to listen and also that which is of benefit to me, but applying my own feelings and logic and most importantly my life experience to the situation.

Getting to meet people is challenging, exciting and frightening in life and needing support care is about is about as personal as you can get. It's taken me how a lifetime learning to fully understand what it means to live a life and strive for my own dreams.

Separating my life from the people that provide my support in everyday living is often times been a challenge. Actually saying “no, this is what I actually want” has been quite an important step for me. I would say that this process has evolved over quite a number of years. Really I’m not what you would call an extrovert but when I want to get something achieved I quietly go about working towards that goal!

Certainly, this whole experience has forced me to take a different view on life than I did before. Especially my teenage years were quite stressed due to school life not being terribly positive (I was bullied a lot); so there was really no enjoyment for me (at high school in particular). Thinking beyond school I was concerned as to what the future might hold for me. My parents are great supporters of me but, in all honesty I couldn’t see them devoting all their energies to looking after me. Knowing that I needed to live in my own house! I think to date that has been the most dramatic thing that I have achieved. Really important to me was that I didn't rent (to my mind that really means giving your money to a landlord who at any particular stage can say that they weren’t prepared to have you as a tenant; or even worse than might decide they don't want to rent the property at all, or put the rental cost up! I knew that committing to mortgage's is quite expensive and truly is a big commitment to undertake but, I knew the consequences would be much more positive taking that particular line then doing the rental thing.