This week, and for our inaugural edition of Puddle Talk, we talk to Ben Waechter – Founder and Managing Director of KYD-X.
KYD-X hosts the Kids & Youth Disability Expo, which exhibits a range of services and products for people under 25 with a disability. Ben was inspired to start KYD-X after the difficulties he faced finding providers and therapies for his son, Harrison.
Tell us a little about you, your age, disability and current situation...
We are a family of four – Husband Ben, Wife Suzi, oldest Son Austin (6) and our son Harrison is four. Harrison has been diagnosed with level 4/5 dyskinetic cerebral palsy after being born prematurely (24 weeks 4 days gestation).
Share with us all the amazing things your son can do, especially those that people in your local community may not realise he can do?
We try to include Harrison in all aspects of our life, whether it be cooking in the kitchen, feeding the fish in our backyard pond, having a kick of the footy or soccer with his brother. Although Harrison is non-verbal, he is able to clearly communicate using verbal yes/no, as well as using his POD communication device. Harry comes everywhere we go – thanks to his wheelchair and his wheelchair modified vehicle. We always focus on what Harry can do rather than what he can’t do.
What has been your biggest achievement to date? How did you achieve such big heights?
Going to mainstream childcare and being accepted as part of their community. He is given the opportunity to participate in all the same activities as the other children. Playing in the sandpit, painting, playing on the swings, joining in with all the same activities the other children have access to. We achieved this by working incredibly hard with Harry’s “team” – ensuring safe handling, correct feeding techniques, and inclusion. We have been very blessed to be accepted by a community child care centre that has embraced Harry and gone above and beyond to ensure that his experience with them is positive and inclusive.
What has been the hardest barrier for you to overcome?
With Harry being in a wheelchair, we have found how inaccessible the world really is to people in a wheelchair and how a set of stairs can ruin an outing.
The biggest barrier, no doubt, is the lack of suitable toilet/changing facilities. Most accessible toilets are a tiled floor with a toilet and if you are lucky a plastic fold away change table. When we are out and about and have to change Harry we have to try a change him while he is in his wheelchair and risk a soiled wheelchair or lay him on the cold tiled floor of a public toilet, which breaks our hearts.
Another frustrating barrier is the lack of parking available for people with a disability. We regularly attend events, expos, etc where there are 1000’s of people attending, but only 3-5 disability parks.
What is one positive thing about the NDIS for you and how do you think the scheme will assist inclusion in your community? Can you give us one idea that would help your community be more inclusive?
Disability only exists when resources are unavailable and the NDIS are slowly but surely making those resources available to individuals with a disability.
Education would be the best way of the community to be more inclusive, just seeing the person first and the disability second rather than the other way around.