This week, we talk to Simone Fejer, a physiotherapist who has worked in the disability sector for many years. Through her company, Professional Assistance for Living, she helps children with special needs to sit, stand, walk and experience all that life has to offer.
Tell us about you and your experience with disability...
My name is Simone Fejer. I am a physiotherapist and worked for many years in rehabilitation for adults with neurological conditions. Ten years ago, I moved into providing customised seating and equipment solutions and now specialise in providing equipment for children with special needs through my business, Professional Assistance for Living. My aim is to increase each child’s comfort and function as well as improve their quality of life. Each situation is different, and I look at the big picture as well as specific details. I combine my knowledge from my clinical background with my understanding of the therapeutic science behind the different walkers, standers, chairs and other products to find the best solution for each child.
Share with us all the amazing things you see children do, especially those that people in your local community may not realise they can do. How do you make disabled people feel more included in your community?
I love that what I do helps kids get involved in what’s going on around them and helps families do things together. It might be that a special stroller helps the family get out and about on weekends together. Just simple things that without the right support are either too hard to take too much time. Some of the chairs available can provide support to improve concentration and participation – and makes even a family mealtime possible. I know that many children have enjoyed getting a walker and it means they can get out and explore the school playground with their friends at lunchtime. The true beauty of these products is all the experiences that suddenly become possible for these kids and their families.
What has been your biggest achievement to date? Describe a moment when you’ve jumped up to make a genuine difference in someone’s life.
One of the best experiences I have had is being involved with a little boy who, several years ago, needed a custom attachment in his standing frame to assist him in controlling his head movement. With this, he could be safe and use his stander at childcare to interact with the other children and participate in activities. He has continued to improve and can now walk with a walking frame. Now, he tears around and chases his younger brother, and he’s into everything at pre-school. It is such a joy to watch children develop skills and independence as they grow.
What has been the hardest barrier for you to overcome? Or for the community to overcome to accept and include people with disability in everyday activities?
Kids so often just want to get their hands dirty – to be involved and participate in whatever’s happening. One of the best things about working with children is that they live in the moment and in each experience. It’s inspiring to see children seize the opportunity to play, engage and discover more about their world – by giving them the chance to sit, walk, stand or explore their environment. At the end of the day, they can do what kids do best.
What is one idea to help us achieve an inclusive society in Australia for people with a disability?
Openness and discussion. The more that people with a disability can tell the rest of the community about what they can do and what changes can help them do even more, the better off we’ll be.
What is one positive thing about the NDIS and how do you think the scheme will assist inclusion in your community?
The NDIS will increase the range of supports available to allow people with a disability to access developments in products and changes in technology. In turn, it means they will be able to more actively participate in a range of activities.