Takiwātanga No. 54 Maria and Matthew Di Leva | Berlin Special Olympics 2023
This transcript is machine generated and was not proof read.
We’re here in Island Bay, Matt’s house. Thank you for your time appreciate I know Matt, you’re busy and you also.
Have work yeah, as long as we get to work at 03:00, we’ll be fine.
Thank you for your time and also first and who is Matt? An Maria.
Okay, so I’m Maria, Matthew’s mum. , Matthew is the youngest of five boys. So Matthew was born when I was 39 years old and my husband was in Is. Forty s a bit of a surprise baby, but a pleasant surprise at first. When we told his brother, their brothers, that they were having a new baby in the family, they were quite shocked. I think the oldest was 15 and the youngest was eight, so they had quite a good lifestyle. And all of a sudden this young baby came into the family and they really loved him, and they were so good with him. As soon as they came into the hospital, they saw him, they loved him immediately, and they could not do enough for him.
So everything was quite good when Matthew was little an then all of a sudden when he was about where she thought he was quite smart because he could line up stuff and he was really good, you know think, oh gosh, he’s really bright. Then all of a sudden we was 15 months about 15 months old. We realized he was different from his brothers.
And that’s when the journey began, going to the GP, asking the GP, what do you think? Oh, I’m not sure going to one paediatrician telling me there’s nothing wrong with him, I’m just an older mother and an older mother so I’m worried going to back to the GP saying, my daughter is his age, she doesn’t act like this. You’re right, there’s something wrong, let’s go to another paediatrician coming out of the other paediatrician in tears such a bad prognosis this child will never walk, we’ll never talk.
You should think about putting one to a home, testing a home for me and everything I’d driven in the car with Matthew so distraught I couldn’t get the car, I couldn’t get in the car, I got a taxi home, walked in the door, my husband looked at me, I was crying, he’s something like he’s autistic. We didn’t even know what autism was, no one mentioned yeah, so since that one, that one time at the second paediatrician, he said about autism, we’re lucky we just got a computer.
So we looked up autism and we all looked at each other and went, oh my God, this is going to be so hard. But we decided right from the beginning that we would teach, we would just raise Matthew like we raised his brothers, but we world just take a bit more time doing it right and that’s what we decided to do. So messy you want to say about yourself?
Welcome Matt to the podcast.
Welcome to the podcast.
Yes, and how are you?
I’m good, thank you.
An. Who is Matt?
Yeah. You want to say this?
Tell me about hi, my name is Matthew Deliver. I was born on the january 15 January 1996. I am 2027 years old.
Yes. Good world.
So, in terms of the journey, Matt, how is it growing up? You were born here in Wellington, right?
I was born in Wellington, yeah.
How is it growing up in Wellington?
Yeah, it was good.
Yeah, it was good.
And tell us what you remember about your journey so you can read that out.
Tell us. I remember being very busy. Mum will tell you more. Growing up, my parents and my brother were always running after me.
Yeah, always running after. Matthew was very hyperactive. Not only the autism, but the hyperactivity. He just managed to get out of Woolly. He could climb out the second floor window of the house and stuff like that.
One day, the guy down the road rang or something, said to me, Where’s Matthew? I said, I hope he’s in bed. He goes, no, he’s not, he’s here. And Matthew had gone down the road. It was such a learning curve for us as a family, and for Matthew, too. Up till Matthew being diagnosed, I can honestly say I know about five sentences about autism, but then once he was diagnosed, we read, read and read, but most of it was from America and stuff like that.
Nothing really about New Zealand, but once Matthew went to kindergarten, they got us in touch with special education. I had a wonderful GP that helped us a lot, and Special Ed was really good. Got us into the beer and poor kindy. And Matthew had a one on one teacher there and really thrived at beer and poor kindy. And I’ve always said that Matthew’s journey was the whole of Ireland bay’s journey. Matthew got lost, everyone looked for him.
So you got your support group?
Yes, I had the support group, the neighbors. I had tremendous support for my husband and the four boys and their partners as a family grew. An even his nieces and nephews and the village. I mean, I remember my nephew getting lost and I just told the lady next door, she started looking. I told the lady behind the fence, she started looking. My mother, in her 70s, was in the middle of the road stopping cars. Have you seen my grandson? How old was he? About four or five? Yeah, four or five. He was a runner. He was a runner. It was terrible.
Do you still remember that math?
Yes, I do.
Yeah. Do you remember what happened? Who brought you home when you got lost that first time, who brought you home? The police.
The policeman? Yeah. And the police were wonderful. So we couldn’t find Matthew. It was two and a half hours. So we ran the police and they said it was in January and they said, is he wearing gum boots? And he was wearing gumboots and apparently he was sitting at the police computer playing. They said, we’ll bring him home, don’t worry.
And they brought him home and they talked to us about how strange to danger and all that sort of thing. Matthew didn’t really understand much, but they did say to us, we’ll keep him on the file. If Messy gets lost, ring us. We won’t wait the 24 hours, we’ll start looking. And that’s what we did over the years. We did that quite a few times over the years.
Remember where you went?
Where did you go when you got lost on it?
By video shop.
Yeah. And then to the police station, looked at the machine, not the video machines, the poking machines. And someone was holding his hand. Does anyone know this child? Anyone know this child?
And then the police came and took him down to the police station, waited for a phone call. The thing about I thought my husband had him, my husband thought I had him. And then when I caught everyone for dinner, no one had him. Where’s Matthew? Where’s Matthew? He gave us so many frights over the years.
I remember one morning getting up, he wasn’t this beard, and I thought, God, where is he? And we lived on the parade this time. And I looked out the gate and the bus had stopped outside our gate. I thought, oh my God, he smashed underneath the bus.
And all of a sudden the bus rider picked him up and he was, had a smiling face like this at three and a half. And he was pointed at our house, obviously. So that’s where I live and that but I think with Matthew, because he had very limited verbal communication, it was very, very hard.
Yeah. But he learned how to communicate eventually, right?
Yeah. We learned how to communicate with little things like shocking abort a packet of wine guns. And we used to teach them colors with the wine guns. So once he learned how to do orange, you could eat the orange wine guns.
Didn’t you remember the colors?
Do you remember the colors? Yes. And by about it, the goal was always to teach Matthew one song a day. The other boys, they did everything straight away was Matthew. Okay? So he was like 18 months when he was diagnosed. And then we thought, okay, well, we’ll teach him words. We’ll take a word a day, a color a day. There’s a program called the Early Bird Program that was just being established. I was in Kenneth Peru Hospital, so Matthew was really hard to look after. My husband was a fisherman and my sister’s a nurse and she was on shift work, so she would look after Matthew and I would go to Kenneth Pru and learn how to help Matthew. Matthew was about three and a half. Matthew had about ten words. And so they world say, you know, what is Matthew like? I said, he loves music so they said teach him, teach him to speak through music. So we would sing Row, Row your own vote an all these songs and stuff. Then one day, Matthew just said to me, mum, row, row. That was it. And we were so happy. And you see quite a few other words that I can’t mention on National I can’t mention here, I can’t mention that very slowly, kindergarten was great. Hey Matthew, did you do it?
Beer and poor.
Yeah. Be on poor. And who looked after you there?
Yeah, so we made Last Long Springs with Marion and she was his teacher eight and she was very tolerant, very patient with him and he was had one on one at Beer and Poor Candy.
Until when did he have is teacher? Eight?
So he started kindly about three and until you were five?
Until I’m four.
And then he went to St Francis de South School, where I went to that school and his brothers went to that school and they didn’t have many autistic children at that school. But Mandy, the special ed teacher, she was very happy to have Matthew because she knew our family and there’s one or two other children there.
And so Matthew was their learning club. They had to put gates on do gates because as Matthew was a runner they really tried to make it as easy as possible but Matthew was a bit of a Matthew went to a stage where he was putting other kids, didn’t he? Yeah and some of the parents were not happy so what happened then was they asked us to come to school 3 hours a day 3 hours a day?
Because we only had teacher aid for 3 hours a day, not from nine till three, just for 3 hours a day. So we did that. We were sad that we had to do that as a family but we said okay then. And then that was the first time that I went to the paediatrician and he suggested going on medication. And I really was not happy about going the road down to medication. But Matthew was not sleeping. He was very hyperactive.
He wasn’t able to be controlled at school, hitting and stuff like that. So Mandy, who was at school, who was a special ed teacher, she came with me to Therapeutic Ian, who specialized in children like Matthew, and we put him on medication.
Is that for his ADHD?
ADHD and the autism? Yeah, he was very, very hyperactive. I mean, he only slept three or 4 hours a night. And when he was up, I had to be up to it. One of us had to be up because he would turn all the lights on. We’re like a disco safe at three in the morning.
All the TVs on and the kids, the older boys are studying for school. CUE and all those things. And now we’re getting a minute you’re on your deep sleep next month. The radio is blasting, the TV is going, the lights were on, everyone’s awake.
But quite often what I used to do is just put Matthew in the car and just go for drive at three or four in the morning and pack and save was open during those during 24 hours. So we’d go to pack and save.
We’d get your drink and some lollies because didn’t eat much and he would drink and have lollies and then he fall asleep and then we would wait. We would park it. Maybe not every day, but sometimes we would just park it.
That’s the second time I’ve heard about like, driving the Autistic.
Yes, that’s the second time.
Is it effective?
It’s very effective. It was effective for us because either we’re staying home and the whole family was awake at three or 04:00. Didn’t seem right because my husband’s a fisherman, he was going out at three or four anyway.
We decided that we just did what suited our family and that suited us. But once Matthew was on the medication, he’d come down quite a bit and it was good. I mean, I really did not want to go down a routine of medication, but at the end of the day I thought, this is how it’s going to have to work. And we went to the medication.
So eventually, once he calmed down for medication, he was managed more able to be controlled. He went to school from nine to three, right? Yeah. And that was good palm. That was good for us.
I heard about that fishing di. You go fishing with your dad?
And you like to throw rocks with dead?
Like to throw rocks.
Have you caught any fish?
No, probably not. At some point I’ll try, yeah.
And he likes going to the blessing. Baby.
Since I was six years old, I went to room seven. Justin Anna forgot the date wrong when I was little.
Yeah, when he was little. And some of the teachers didn’t quite understand Matthew, but once they did, it was really good. He used to have this tantrum every time he’d go to school, if the date wasn’t changing the calendar, he’d throw this huge tantrum and I mean, thrown soft on the ground, screaming, yelling stuff. So the biggest thing was for us just to make sure that the teacher changed the date.
And most of the time he’d remember to change the date. And a couple of times she didn’t void. We all suffered and Matthew. That’s what he was talking about with the teacher, didn’t change the date. But he went to the blessing of the boat for dead, didn’t you? Matthew. And a few of his friends. Once a year we had the blessing of the boats once a year, blessing on the boats and we enjoyed doing that.
So did you meet any friends back at school?
Yeah, friendships were hard to develop at school with Matthew, but we had some wonderful young people that were very seven, eight year old couple of, you know, I’ve got to mention Haley and Patulo, two seven, eight year old girls that really talk to Matthew.
We’ll spend time with him in the playground, we’ll walk around with him and to this day they’re still friends with Matthew, which is really nice. A couple of boys that he went to school with. My friend has twin boys and they were very good with Matthew and yeah.
It’s just that as a family we just try to do everything ourselves, but we did let other people in so that Matthew had quite a normal life, right? Yeah. Matthew hasn’t got a best friend or anything, but he has a lot of friends.
He has built like his community own support group.
Yeah, that’s what he has. I mean, he has his family support group, he has his work support group, he has is home support group and he goes to day base called Marina when he’s not working and he has that support group there and then I’m in the community. He’s very good with him. Everybody knows him, he’s well known.
Our family lived in Ireland bank. My parents lived here, we lived here. My parents both passed away. So everybody knows our family. And the boys, of course, the older boys have done sport and stuff like that. So everybody our family is quite well known because sport and work and stuff like that. So, yeah, it’s been good for Matthew that he’s got a great he springs with is brother’s friends.
You Scott Daniel swings, don’t he? Yeah. And Chris’s friends. He’s got a Facebook page of friends. Yeah, yeah. Wellington that he’s got is aunt in Australia. That he’s got, sweetie. Australia is very good to me.
Have you been to Australia?
The last time I went to Australia was four years ago. February the 17th. February 13 until the 17th.
As you can tell, Nick is very good with that.
So what did you do in Australia?
I went to the concerts. I went to see S Cup Seven. Went to see JLM Five and Big Brother and Christina Ekiria and Jamaia.
Wow. Concert was a big concert. He went to Australia. Yeah. And you’re going again next year, aren’t you?
I’m going again.
Are you going to see next year pick?
Even though it’s a new real aunt, he does want to go. He wants to go to Australia. His brother will be there and his auntie, so he’ll spend time with them.
It’s going to be fun.
Did you enjoy the last time you were there?
Have you competed there?
Yes. When did you compete in Australia? When did you compete? At King?
Gold an. You got a gold and silver and gold an silver an bronze, yes.
So that was for running.
For running. So what’s the competition?
It was Trans-Tasman game.
So going to that competition. So how did Matthew got into running in athletics?
Well, having four older boys, I think the secret boys are pretty rowdy. Sport. Sport was a thing to be doing. So as soon as I could literally walk, they were into cricket and into soccer. Being Italian soccer is really the end thing, so the boys always pay.
I mean, I remember Saturday morning having Matthew six months old, joe seemed to go always fishing on a Saturday morning because you have to go with the weather. So I had Matthew on one hip, the four other boys in the back seat. I’d go to Karori, to Island Bay, just run around the soccer fields. How do you watch a game?
Because I was so busy picking one up and dropping the other one off. But yeah, so I think we got Matthew into sport because he was very hyperactive. And a friend of mine sent me a text who had it. She’s got two special needs children and she said to me, Matthew world probably benefit from going to Special Olympics. We heard about hip hop group.
That wasn’t Special Olympics, it was just a group of mothers that put a hip hop group together. And so Matthew doing a hip hop group, didn’t he? What’s in the hip hop group called JDK. Yeah. What is an example?
Just dance crazy.
Just dance crazy.
Where is that?
So they go every Monday and they have a practice and they do concerts occasionally. Where have you done a concert, Matthew?
Yeah. And you’ve been to the China?
Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year. And they’ve done a concert for family and friends too. So Matthew really enjoys JDK. And all the three flatmates that live with Matthew also go to JDK. Yeah. And so Matthew joined JDK. Then there was so Special Olympics offers a lot of sports and stuff. So message started at the athletics athlete.
Swami basketball and bowling.
And bowling, yeah. And past had JDK. So it’s five things he was going.
To every week, so that’s every week.
Yeah. So since he was about nine or ten years old, very beefy since then. Yeah. And so, yeah, so I spent my entire time running, you know, running the car and stuff like that. Dropping them off, dropping them off. There an he, but he seemed to enjoy those things and it was good for him. Got rid of all the excess energy, which we find sounds really important. And because of that, I think he sleeps different at night. He really enjoyed athlete, enjoyed this for me. He still does swimming and he still does JDK. And he still does athletics. Matthew now works. Where do you work, Matthew?
So how did you find your work how did you start look? Did you start looking?
Yeah. When Matthew was about 20 years old, 19 or 20. What year did we start looking for Matthew?
So 2000 sorry, now 27.
So that’s 2023 now. So 2016, Matthew went to Wisen High School. So Matthew went to burn pool. Kindy. Burn pool kindy. He went to St Francis to Sales, the Catholic school that I went to. And his brothers went to an.
Then we found out about a school in Christchurch called Horswell. So it was a school for special needs kids. So we were doing a lot of work with Matthew on that, but we got to a stage where where do we go next? And I heard about Hawswell, so Joe so Matthew and I went met went down to Hawthorne one week, didn’t we, Matthew?
Yeah, we had a look at that and I said to Matthew, do you think you could live here? So it’s a boarding school, an you said yes, he wanted to lay yes, I wanted to, yeah. So he went down for two and a half years and he boarded there.
Yeah. I never had Matthew away from me for more than a day, and I sent him to boarding school. It was one of the hardest things we ever did of a family, and we were all torn apart by it. Like, we didn’t really want to do it.
But I could see that it was good for Matthew and I could see that he could benefit a lot because we had been so involved with his life. He didn’t know he wasn’t independent. I remember bringing him to boarding school and staying the first night and they gave them breakfast and the guy said, Gave Matthew’s toast.
I got up to butter the toast. He goes, no, sit down. He’ll butter the toast. How old were you? Butterless toast? And by the time he left Horsewell, he could use a fork and knife. Definitely. He didn’t learn a lot educationally, but he learned a lot life skills.
Learned how to get a bus, learned how to eat with a fork and knife, learned how to live with other people, just learned how to mix them with sport and stuff.
So we learned all of those in Horsewell.
I think he missed a lot in Horsewell there he was debunking them here, but yeah, so when we came back, he came back after the earthquake. What year was the earthquake?
Yeah, 2010. He had to come back because of the earthquake. That’s when we got him into Special Olympics, everything we could think of. So he went into everything he was doing JDK and four other activities of Special Olympics.
And he started to develop. He really enjoyed going. He really enjoyed sort of the running and stuff. And one of his brothers got involved and was a coach, so we were lucky enough to go to Kiers, like you said, he won some medals and stuff. And then he’s been to the National Summer Games every three years. Yeah, every three years.
Any opportunities that have come up, Matthew’s taken them. Yeah. I’m a firm believer of taking everything with both hands. Okay. There are four sports he could do, so let’s do them. So he did them an up till last year he was doing 10th and bowling and then his hours changed at work. And then what hours were you working?
03:00 to 06:00.
No, 06:00, where the bowling was 04:00 on a Wednesday. So he realizes how important his job is, so he’s happy to give up that. And then basketball. This year we decided not to do basketball because it starts at 530 minutes. What time do you finish work, Matthew?
Yeah. But it’s a good opportunity for him to help spend with the meal at the house. So Matthew’s doing the meal on us on a Thursday night with one of the kids with us. So that’s worked out well. Hey, Matthew. And you like I like that, yeah.
Have you competed with basketball?
Yeah, yeah. On competing and stuff? Yeah, a couple of weeks ago went swimming and got a couple of noodles. Yeah. Where’d you go swimming, Matt?
Past the north.
Yeah. Past the north? Yeah. Three middles, two middles, two fest and something else. Yeah. And Special impact was great. They had a great bunch of volunteers and they make sure that they really have a good time.
And I feel that messy is completely safe with them because another thing with having a child with special needs, you worry about safety and how much stuff like that. Yeah. But yeah, I just feel completely confident with the fact that Matthew lives here with Caregivers and his flatmates, the fact he can go to work on the bus and stuff like that.
Matthew has a great job in is own World and has the boss, Mark, and the manager that looks after Matthew. They’re amazing. They’re very, very supportive. Couldn’t they come high enough in the supermarket? They’re very supportive. And Matthew seems to be very well loved at the supermarket. Everyone seems to know.
You found out a new support group.
Yeah. I mean, when they had the pandemic and Matthew had they did a story about Matthew. I was on the front page of the Dominion Post. I mean, everyone was so proud to have that photo. And I remember New World putting it on their Facebook page and getting about 500 likes. And now people were saying, oh my gosh, I didn’t realize he was sister. I didn’t realize. It was really amazing. Quite popular.
So how long have you been working there now?
Four and a half years.
Four and a half years. So we started off like telling you before about so Nikki was 20 and they decided, oh, you know, you have to have work experience. So we thought, oh, I will do work experience. So I said to the lady, I said oh, I’ll help Matthew with us. And so we did a CV and every Wednesday we world go and visit quite a few places but leave a CV. We didn’t go to is family members because he could have gone to family members and got a job in no trouble. But I wanted Matthew to go to someone that would realize Matthew’s family, because I knew Mackie had it in him to hold down a job so we went to quite a few places so we’re up to 42 people an no one had called us back.
Is it within Wellington?
Within Wellington yeah we started with Wellington we were down to Lampton Key and then Newtown New World ring and said Becky Stoneston doing work experience yeah you can do it on a Wednesday how many hours? I said, I’ve done maybe three, four, five, 6 hours. I said, okay, then going to start next week.
And so Matthew had someone go with him for the first couple of weeks, emerge and then bit by but Matthew learned how to do everything. So when Matthew first started Newtown New World, he was on doing work experience.
And then they one day they rang us up and they said, oh, you know, we feel that Matthew is a really valued member of the team and we like to give him paid employment. And that was wonderful. I just said, thank you so much. Put the phone down and start to cry. The guy rang me back, he said to me, so it’s okay. I said yeah it’s fine, its fine would you like to come in and we’ll sign the contract and stuff so that’s it. So Matthew works at Newtown New World part time right?
Yeah what’s the work routine?
What do you do when you first go there? What time you start with 03:00 what do you do?
Set the shelves and do the packing bags and the checkout counter an clean the clean the kitchen dishes in the kitchen staff room and clean the sanitize with the baskets and do the stacking shelves and doing was that cardboard? I did a cardboard messy’s into recycling back into the recycled yeah it’s decks.
Of cardboard and stuff like that so he world what days he went missing?
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays sunday.
Is resting day off, two days off do you enjoy what to do?
Yeah do you like your job?
I love my job yeah he does.
He really loves it and he’s very happy and they’re great in that supermarket he’s very content there, they seem to understand him really well and he’s got a good rapport with the staff and with the people that work at supermarket.
So how do you go there? Do you take a bus or a bus?
All right, so what’s your routine? So on Monday if it doesn’t work what do you do on Monday?
Di would be where do you go to day.
Base goes tomorrow in a day base, which is run by Spectrum. Kia, who runs is home. Wellington. Where are they? Matthew?
On top of top of Cuba Street.
Yeah. And so at Spectrum, what do you do at Spectrum?
I do DIY with work mornings and after lunch afternoon. Do the compost. Compost?
Yeah. On Tuesdays to say Tuesdays I do ruto.
Explorers. Morning, Ten.
Yeah. And then in the afternoon he’ll leave about 02:00. To go to work. Yeah. Wednesday he has a day with me and we do jobs at home. Don’t World?
And Thursdays and Fridays he goes to.
Thursdays goes to Maringa and then to work too. And Friday thursday I do the People’s meeting and I do radio prep more every mornings at 10:00 a.m.. And after lunchtime afternoon 01:00 p.m., I do made by Maranga. Make things to sell.
Once in a while.
Fears. On Fridays I do relationships friday mornings at 10:00 a.m.? Yeah, 10:00 a.m. Mornings and do health and wellness. And after lunchtime, what? The Friday afternoon?
And then you go to work, go to World. What time leave murray 02:00. An he gets the bus, goes down to what?
Where do you get the bus from number three.
Number three to Newtown.
Newtown rid of Is Street shops.
Yeah. And then he gets then he comes then he finishes work at six and he gets the bike home. But they wait for him to have dinner, they’ll have the flat, have dinner together.
The second Friday I have fuse nights 630 to 830.
So on a Friday, every second Friday goes to fuse. And that fuses for young people like Matthew and it just gives them an outlet to go together, just an island bay and they go what do you do?
Do activities and go out sometimes. Going out, do things, go to pubs.
Yeah, he likes yeah, matthew loves going out. Matthew loves people.
He doesn’t have sensitivity in his ears, right?
Some kids are sensitive to noise, but for him it’s okay.
Yeah. Over the years he has had that sort of had that problem, but over the years he’s just been able to manage it so massive. On no medication now.
When was the last time that he had medication?
Before he went to Horswell.
That’s the last time?
Yeah, the last time. So we really went to Horsewell and we wanted really him to have all the benefits that were possible Horsewell. So I talked to the GP and he was on respirator and quite a strong medication to keep him calm. And I said to him, I think we should start winning him off it an we had to win him off it because he got a side effect of that where he lost the Uterus Venture muscle.
He was eleven years old, he had to go back into nappies, so it was such a hard thing. So we had to get him off this. We had a lovely urologist that helped us. And he had to have Botox injections in his bladder for two years. So you think one thing’s helping, but another thing gets stuffed up. So I said to the doctor, he has to be weaned of us, I agree, because it was a quite strong medication.
We weaned him off over six months and then he we had to retrain him to go the toilet. And then after that, no more medication. He went down to Horsewell. He went down to Horsewell, had no medication, he was fine. And since he’s never had any medication, we felt that you can’t get a benefit out of things if you’re on drugs and stuff.
And so we thought, you know, going down to Hawthorne, how’s he going to learn all these things if he’s drugged up with respiratory and stuff? It’s quite a strong medication. And so he said no. And I had a very, really good GP that he was just listening to, I wanted to do this, I want to do that, you can do that, but we’ll try it this way. And I was very enthusiastic because our goal as a family was Matthew had to live the most normal life possible so that he could live a normal life as a family.
We always had goals, especially once he finished school, once he finished Winton High school. What did you do after that?
I went to Walt.
Went to Walt for two years? Yeah.
What did you study?
I studied computers and life skills.
They went for two years. So he had to learn to go from Island Bay to the railway fest and railway fashion to PATONI. So he learnt that when he was in the last year at Warrington High an he had to learn to come back an when he was going to Arsen High, I would take him there.
And then the goal was always that he was going to get the bus to arisen High and back on his own. So he’d been going to Argentheim for about two terms and I said, this term, Matthew, we’re going to learn how to get the bus. So we learned how to get the bus. So I would watch him get the bus and I follow him.
You follow the behind car or the car?
Yeah. Anyway, we were up to about our third week and I was still following him and he got off at once and he said, oh, he’s doing this really well. And the bus driver got off the bus too. And he said to me, look here, lady, I watch you for three weeks following your son. I think you’re the one that needs to grow up an leave the boy alone. So since then, I didn’t follow him. And then there was a little girl, the young lady up the road, that she lived on the same street with us. And I just said to her, just make sure that Methy gets a bus home.
Every day. An she World just discreetly keep an eye on him and sit with them. And he learned yeah. So he learned to go to Arlington Island when he was about how old were you at John? An 14. About 14 because he’d been two years at home as well. Yeah. And then he learned how to go an so the next transition, of course, was when he went to World to learn how to get the bus from Island Bay to the railway station. Railway station to world.
And he went there for two years and he learned quite a bit and he had started doing the work experience, going to the supermarket, which was really good. So WalTech was Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, then Wednesday was a day off and that’s when he would go to the supermarket and he really enjoyed that.
And he learned to get the bus to the supermarket and back and he really enjoyed that. And then once by the time he’d finished roll tech, they said to him, he can start work. He hadn’t started working, paid work then. So he went to Maringa and stayed there and Maringa’s teachers and skills for life skills. And then once he got the job at supermarket, he would just go to Maranga on the days or on the times that he wasn’t supermarket.
So that was great. And having Maringa, that’s only been developed in the last ten years and that’s been a great asset for the community. Instead of having the kids home all the time, when they haven’t got a job, they get up. So the the Matthew scrap mates, they all on Monday, they all just get up and go to Marina and then most of them stay there most of the day, some of them have got part time jobs, work for an hour or so and Matthew works for and that’s what he does. And that actually worked out really well.
Yeah. So going back to that boss, when we were teaching, or you were teaching Matthew riding a bus, did you ride with him at first or just no.
I showed him how to get on the bus in there. I said to the bus driver, on teaching, that’s fine, that’s fine. First three or four times on that and I said, I’ll be following the bus, he’s got to get off at one, that’s fine.
I find that if you speak to people and tell them what’s happening, they’re very accepting and they will help. I remember Buds being in Concords and Matthew was having a tantrum in the lifting Concords lady, can’t you control him? No. Would you like to try? I said, look, he’s autistic, this is what he does. I said, oh, I’m so sorry, but once you explain to people what the problem is, that will be quite good.
Then after a while, I can honestly say I would say that half the people in the supermarket think maybe there’s something wrong with Messy. Not quite sure, but just, you know but Messy just and messy. Just like any other coach, any other young men. Yeah, they put the special needs labor on. But I think now he has no special needs because he works, he can do he can manage his life, he can help with the meals, he works, he has had a couple of girlfriends and stuff like that. And he has a great life here at the flat. Daniel. Yes. You like flatten?
I love that team.
You meet new friends.
Yeah, he’s made new friends at work. They just have such a great life, this life. They go out, they do things, the caregivers are wonderful. When Matthew was first diagnosed, we didn’t know the life that Matthew was going to have.
But we are so happy that Matthew has this life. We honestly thought that someone was going to have to look after the rest of his life, someone from the family. Then when we made that transition from living at home into Matthew going flatting, as I said, Matthew lives in the family home and we’ve moved out and three flatmates have moved in an speech and have taken over the running of the house. It’s been great.
It’s been great. And they take Messy to have up now. They make sure that Messi gets to work on time, but that’s never been a problem. They make sure that Messi does all his activities and stuff like that. We actually go flying together because I quite like someone, don’t we? Yeah, we do. From the diagnosis to how far Matthew has come, I would say nothing short of a miracle. And a lot of people have said that. I can’t believe this is the same boy that world push the other kids.
Way back in the day.
In 2002, I was with Edie, looked after me.
Yeah. There are different people looking after him over the years at St Francis, and that helped a lot. And then when he went to Wellington, went to Horsewell, of course.
That was wonderful. Then, going to Wellington High, I was in two minds about someone went to Wellington High A, because there was girls at that school and my boys had already been to all boys school. But Wellington High was a good fit for Matthew and he did well there. And they made sure that he was integrated into the other classrooms and stuff. They had a day base, but he was going to the other classes and it was good.
Yeah. And it was an amazing journey for him, because back then, there were only few support how will I say this? There’s no responding, there’s no other additional support from, let’s say, autism.
No, that’s right.
It’s like just a family navigating the journey.
Yeah, that’s right.
So I was so amazed before, after I read his story, your story, because how were you able to navigate that complexity? And then now here’s.
Yeah, well I think we really worked together as a family. Our goal was always that he was going to live the best possible life and we had goals for him every year.
Every year, yeah.
And we toilet things. Five years old number one, six year old number two, go to school, do activities, do things with the family. His brothers were great, they world take him out. He had so much energy and we used to bring him to the park and just let him run. Let him run and then when he got chosen to go to Berlin I thought well that’s the reason why he has been running.
There was been a reason why we stayed in the park all the time, you just keep running, you know and so there was a reason, there was a reason why we were going to the park and just letting him run because he had to go to Berlin. God had chosen him to go to Berlin. Just a matter of time. Yeah. I think a lot of people say to us how did you do it? And stuff like that. Well Matthew got a lot of love, a lot of understanding, a lot of caring. He’s four older brothers and his dad. No one ever, ever complained about this little kid. We took out for dinner every week and one stage we couldn’t go to dinner everywhere because I remember once went to Valentine’s restaurant and he just went near an put all the food on the floor and stuff like that so we were never going anywhere.
If we had a family wedding one of us would stay home and look after Matthew and then they world go to the wedding with the kids and that’s what it got right? But the goal is always that Matthew was going to be a part of everything. It was going to take more time. So when my sister came back from overseas and was going to get married she said to me I want messy to be paid for how old you and your people were going to I.
Was seven years old.
I thought oh my god, he’s never going to kick stell but his cousin Charlotte was with him. How old was Charlotte?
Twelve years old.
Twelve years old. And she’s actually a teacher now and she took him by the hand and she guided him. There’s always someone guiding him and then we got him into everything. I remember once they had a Rotary, an Plymouth and had a speech competing oh we’ll get him to do that. So we went the first year and he came nowhere.
The second year he came second and we went down to Christchurch and he wrote and him and I wrote the story together and he wrote about his family and his brother and everything like that and it was great wasn’t it? We really enjoyed going to Christchurch and we made a lot of friends and he went back to Horsewell because how old were you when you went down to do the speech in Christchurch?
- And he lived Horsewell. He’d been away from Horsewell for about two or three years. About five years, yeah. And so we went down to Hawthorne, Matthew school, and a lot of the teachers were still there and so happy to see Matthew again. And Matthew remembered all your birthdays from years and years ago.
And so they said, Would you like us? Could we listen to your speech? So Matthew sat in the an the yeah, we so we stood in the in the kitchen of Portswell and Matthew did a speech for them and they were just overwhelmed. We went down to Christchurch and he came six out of second of the North Island and six over the whole of New Zealand and that was great.
And the fact that he couldn’t even speak at six or seven and now he can do speech and he can read and he can write, that was amazing. So the goal was always for when he was younger was to read, to write, to be toilet trained and to have friends and do things with your family.
And so over the years, slowly, I mean, it was very slow. We’d have times when he would not learn a word for three or four, five, six days an, you know, and then he’d, he’d go forward and then he’d regress. Go forward and then regress. Then eventually he started go forward and didn’t regress anymore. So we could teach him more.
When you teach him with a word, let’s say happy.
So is it like you get a happy face?
Happy. Okay. So we had these cards that we.
An a plastic. Yeah. And so we do happy. And then on the door we will put a stop sign with a hand stop. Yeah. An stuff like that. So he world learn. That was the biggest thing was he was a runner, we were scared he was going to run away. We’re never going to find him. Even now that he’s going to bloom, I’m saying to him, stay near everyone, make sure that you because he’s got a really strong stride and I’m old and I take a while to catch up.
I said, just walk next to people and if I go toilet, if I want to go somewhere, you got to say, he’s 27, I still worry. But I will say an confident that he can go to Berlin. He’s made us proud just being chosen. He’s very fit, he’s going to have a great time over there and I think that the fact that he an go there without his family, although one of his brothers is going to go there and watch him.
But they’re quite strict of how they berlin could be quite a lot of athlete and stuff like that. He won’t get to see his brother much, because, if you know, his brother will be in the crowd and his brother will go and see him at nighttime. But that’s really a big independence for him.
So how are you preparing for the Berlin?
Preparing. What are you doing?
What are you doing for the Olympics?
What are you doing for the Olympics?
Don’t let anyone run as fast as you can. And don’t let anyone pass me.
That’s what one of his uncle fell into doing. I just said do your best.
Do my best.
Enjoy. He does one of his brothers as a personal trainer. So what do you do?
You go to no go. Snap Fitness.
Gino doesn’t work at the Exist gym anymore.
No. Gone to Snap Fitness. And you go to Snap Fitness too. A yeah. And what did you do when Damien came here?
Damien is from Australia.
Damien. Me and Damien went to Empire.
No. What about running? Not me.
And Damien went to running with Quinton. I did. 200 meters and relay.
And what did you do? You ran up and down the hill.
I ran up and down the hill.
And Damien couldn’t do anymore because he was puffed out.
He was puffed out.
But you weren’t.
I weren’t, no. You just keep running, didn’t you just keep running?
Yeah. Yeah. So I think, you know, when you have a child with auto from the net, you’ve got to a lot of energy. You’ve got to redirect the energy. And that’s who I find. Anything that was Matthew. If it wasn’t appropriate, we’d just redirect it to something else and he would learn.
So as a family, we learned about autism, and then we were able to help Matthew with the autism. But Now People say, I forget that he’s Autism because he does everything and he does every Once In A while I say, oh, I’m sorry you have autism or something. Like he’ll come out with something with someone. Who’ll? Just say something. I say, oh, I’m sorry. But at the end of the day, people don’t really care. They just see the person he has become.
One thing about Matthew he doesn’t hate, doesn’t have fear. He loves everyone. He loves life. He loves everything.
Don’t judge people, not judgmental and stuff like that.
I judge people the way they treat Matthew. But Matthew doesn’t he doesn’t realize. He doesn’t know. But most I must admit, most people are really God. I think Matthew told a lot of people about autism. And I’ve had people say to me, oh, we are much better people for the fact that we know Matthew. Yeah. Because Matthew has brought a specialness about things. He’s always happy. Yeah.
And the patience. I mean, I’m learning from my children and my autistic child, and being patient is one of those patients was the.
Worst one for me. I had four other older boys. An I had Matthew. And it was like, yeah, patience was really hard to get. But now, actually, I don’t even rush anymore. I just take life as it comes. And I told Matthew to do that too. So I remember two years ago, when Matthew at Maringa, they have a meeting, someone looks after Matthew at Maringa, Adam looks after Matthew at Marring. And once a year we’ll have a chat about the goals. Once Matthew moved in here in California’s job, I said, I don’t think we’ve got any more goals. That’s it.
So there’s no like going to Berlin.
Was a complete surprise with we were thrilled about yeah, that wasn’t part of the goal. Go to Berlin and get a medal and stuff like that. That wasn’t part of the goal. The goal was a little thing, like get a job, get competing. Well, not a little thing, it’s a big thing, really. Get a job, able to look after yourself. And so now we’re in a really good place for the family that his brothers are always there and supportive for him. He has somewhere to live for the rest of his life. He has a job and he can go to Maringa, and he has his friends from the house and his friends from Maringa, an then he has his brother’s friends, his brother’s, all very close to him. They all spend time with him, doing.
Individual things around his brothers, around the.
One Australia and the other three little ones. One of them don’t forget, one lives in Island Bay, another one that’s a Miramar. Matthew likes nothing better than having a family afternoon tea or family dinner and stuff like that. An we always end up having extras for Easter and Christmas, which is great. Which is great. Yeah. But this weekend it was Dad’s birthday, wasn’t it?
And we had all the bottles on. Your nieces and nephews come, eh?
And he liked that. He loves his niece and nephews.
So where are you celebrating?
We need to celebrate whether we have morning tea, afternoon tea at Mum and Dad’s house? Yeah, yeah. They all came for afternoon tea at Mum and dad, so that was good. Yeah. And Matthew loves being in time with his brothers and they’re really good with him. Couldn’t be happier. They’re just great. And sister in laws, or three new sister in laws, they’ve gone out there.
What is this in law’s name?
Lauren an Lisa and Anna Moray.
Yeah. And what’s happening in November?
Lisa’s having a new baby.
Because it’s going to be a girl and we’re going to have many girls in our family. We have a lot of boys in our family, so we’re very excited that we’re here. A little girl. Yeah.
Have you thought of a gift for the baby?
Not yet. It’s.
Ages away. Although we looked a lot, but we now know ages away. So that’s our story. That’s our life. So someone say to me, oh, my God, what was it like having a child? What’s it like having a child with autism? It wasn’t easy, but if you give them lots of love, lots of attention, you get the rewards. And really, you have to put time into them. You have to put time into them. You can’t like, if I had raised Matthew, like I raised the other four kids, matthew’s life world be would be different or wouldn’t be the same.
Because with Matthew, you had to teach him everything. Just the little things. Like, the other kids have picked things up naturally with Matthew, you have to teach them how to use a fork, teach them how to use a knife to make a sandwich, you have to teach most people, you have to teach them everything. You need time and you need lots of love and lots of patience. But I feel that as a family we’ve done a good job raising me and I’m proud to be Nikki’s mum and his brothers are proud and proud of him.
Every little thing that he does when he was born and when he was diagnosed, we never dreamed he would be able to represent his country. That was a dream. We didn’t even dream it because we just thought it was not a possibility. Just try and get through living our life an him being independent, but then to be representing his country, to have gone to Cairns to win the medals and stuff like that. It’s just been a dream of an outcome, and I never thought that it would get would be this good. And we’re thrilled that for Matthew, too, and for all the people that have seen Matthew grow up an seen how he was and what’s happened today, there’s so many possibilities for these kids. Life doesn’t have to be that negative. When you got that diagnosis, you so overwhelmed with it, but no, it doesn’t have to be like that, it an be really, actually it’s what you make it what you make it.
The time you put into it and everything and that’s it. Nothing was easy, getting the job took years, learning just daily life took years, but now, like I said, all the goals are done. He lives a normal life with his flatmates, they go out, he’s got friends, goes to parties, they love partying, don’t you?
Yeah, yeah, every time I have a birthday, they have to have a party. Yeah, they love living an they really enjoy life and it’s just so lovely to see them all happy in this wonderful environment or their caregivers, who really great, they just step back, they just keep an eye on them and they’re there for guidance and it’s really great. You can make a rosato and cook.
What dishes can you cook?
What can you make?
Macaroni and cheese.
It’s only because he likes it and the result, you have to spend plenty of time cleaning, the result, Maggie likes cleaning, he’s very good at doing the dishes and unloading the dishwasher. He likes doing that sort of stuff.
He likes cleaning. It’s very tidy. Everything in his room is color coordinated and everything is very tidy. Yeah. We weren’t the family that you took the shoes off and left them in the middle of the floor. Oh, no, those shoes were never down in middle of the floor. They got put in your room exactly the right way and put in the cupboard. And that’s what Matthew’s been like. Hey, Matthew.
I think we’ve talked about most of them.
Yeah, I think we’ve done everything. Yeah. Because when I start talking, I just can’t stop. Because when Matthew was diagnosed, I was overwhelmed an our whole family was overwhelmed. And I’m so proud to have got this far because I never thought we’d get this far. So I just say to other parents, these cars being diagnosed, I just say to them, just do your best and be lots of love and lots of caring and the world’s oyster. There’s no such thing as impossible. It is always possible.
So what is autism in the eyes of Maria?
Just another challenge. Another challenge was in my eyes, the know what autism was. I learnt with Matthew. And as a family we always did our best for him, but we also tried to live a normal life as possible. I think Autumn is a label, but you need to forget the label and just live as normal life as possible. And then things might take a bit more time, but honestly think that eventually you get there.
And I think that’s what you’ve got to give hope to people. I think autism is about hope, about making sure that you give your very best to your child in return. They’ll do everything they can, they’ll do what they’re capable of. If they’re not capable of something, they’ll let you know. You step down the level and you start again. There were times when I thought, oh, Matt is never going to be able to do this. But no, he was surprised us every time. Then I’d go back and forget about it for six months, then I go like, he can read, he can write.
I don’t think he’s going to be able to read and write. He reads labels. He’s very good at keeping things in order and stuff like that. I mean, when they were changing the supermarket round, I was really worried because he’s got a photographic memory, so he remembered where everything was. Then they had to relearn everything, which is really good. And he’s really into relating. You like the new supermarket?
I really love the supermarket. Really lovely.
Yeah. Yeah, it’s good.
So what is auto seminar math?
Can you answer that message?
Yes, we have answered to that.
You haven’t answered that message. I think we do. Okay. You can read that one.
Autism for me is being different. I have different ways to thinking. I have an unusual ability to remember birthdays. And dates. I am lucky that so many people have sort of supported me over the years I have lived and I bought all my life. Mum says the village helped raised me.
When I gave him that last thing. So we talked about it an he wrote that down. So, yeah, it’s been a tough journey. It’s been a tough journey. Hasn’t been easy, but the wards far outweigh anything. My husband and I live further down the road, but we can go to bed every night thinking matthew was living his best life and he’s happy.
So we’ve got the same happiness we have for the four older boys than we have for Matthew. That’s it. All he wants him as a parent, all he wants them to live a happy life and have a good life and be good people and show kindness. And I feel that we’ve got that with Matthew. Life good, Matthew.
My life is good. Thank you.
Life is great. That’s all we can say.
Any final message for autism parents? An maybe autistic kids or most of them?
We’ve talked about. We’ve talked about it. We’ve talked about it. Look, once your child is diagnosed, it’s not the end of the world, it’s a start of a new life, so it’s a start of something at the start of a really long journey. But I can honestly say, as a parent of an autistic child, there is an end to the journey.
I feel now that as a family, we’ve done our very best for Matthew. I can see, I see Matthew’s got a job. Matthew has a wonderful life living here in the house of his flatmates. He’s got great social skills. I never dreamed all those things for Matthew and I was thought that we would be the only parents going around after our son.
So it looks like it might be he thrown around after us with is even better, which he does do. He’s always tidying up after me, I think. Lots of love, lots of caring. And don’t let autism beat you. You beat autism.
Yeah. Okay. All right. Thank you for your time and all the best to the Berlin.
Thank you. Thank you very much. And thank you for listening to our story, because that means a lot for us. We want people to know that the impossible is possible.
An as a family, we’re so proud of Matthew. Our journey has been nothing short of amazing.
Yes. And the more autistic kids are out there and being seen by people, the more awareness.
As I said when I went to specialist and Nathan was diagnosed, the first thing sees me, oh, there’s a home in Lebanon. That was the last thing on my mind, but obviously that’s what they did, just put them in a home and that’s fine.
Matthew’s part of a family, why should he go into a home? Because he is part of a family. He’s got so far because if you put him in a home, where would he blank still in a home or otherwise they would close Kimberly down, put you out, sit down into the world, and you’d be absolutely overwhelmed, you know? But at 27, Matthew has a full and happy life. Yes. Like other 27 years. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. Probably better. Like a lot of 27 years, to be honest. He had a great.