“Yep, I did it!”

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NAB’s Lora Agius and her son Matt.

When NAB’s Lora Agius’s son Matthew was diagnosed with autism in 2005 at the age of three, she didn’t know where to turn for support.

“Especially in those early years, my work at NAB was a release because it was the normality I didn’t sometimes have at home. I could control it”.

Thankfully, Lora stumbled upon Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect), Australia’s largest autism-specific service provider with one of the biggest autism-specific school programs in the world.

Aspect provided Matthew with speech and occupational therapy, counselling and support on life skills until he completed Year 12 in 2020.

“Things like catching the train don’t sound like a big deal to a mainstream person but it’s something out of his comfort zone,” she said. “Reaching out to Aspect was the best decision I ever made.”

Because of the help available at Aspect, Matthew is now learning how to drive and recently made a solo trip across the South Pacific with some of his Aspect mates. Things that Lora had once thought would never happen.

“He’s always nervous about doing all these things but when he achieves his goals he says, ‘Yep, I did it!’” Lora said.

“I can’t be more thankful for the inclusive and supportive environment that Aspect provided for Matthew. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

For 15 years, Lora has dedicated her time to supporting and volunteering at the organisation that has been an instrumental part of her son’s life.

Lora also uses her NAB volunteering and time with Aspect as an opportunity to connect with other parents of kids with autism.

Matt and Lora recently.

“It can be isolating when you’re a parent,” she said. “I just want to show them that there are other people going through the same things.

“When I return it feels like a family reunion.”

In recent years, Lora’s NAB colleagues have joined the cause and used their volunteering hours to help at the Aspect school program.

“NAB has been nothing but supportive in providing me the flexibility that I need to be able to support Matthew and it’s so heart-warming to see us now being able to give back to Aspect too,” she said. “Sports carnivals, movie nights… I’m getting everyone on board!”

Lora is also getting her family on board at NAB! Both her and her partner David have worked at NAB for over 25 years. David has since left NAB but she is now joined by their son, Matthew’s older brother Alex.

“It’s such an amazing place to work,” she said. “Having left nab in 2004 to focus on supporting Matthew I then had the opportunity to return 18 months later. So good that I came back for more and now brought my son with me!”

What’s next for Matthew? After catching the travel bug, he and Alex are now planning a trip to Europe!

“Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be checking to make sure he gets back on the boat or the train at the end of the day,” Lora said, “but he would never be able to do these things without all the support he got from Aspect”.

Sunday 3 December is International Day of People of Disability, which aims to promote community awareness, drive disability inclusion and value the contribution of people with disability in the workforce.

From Monday 27 November – Sunday 3 December, NAB employee resource group NABility will raise money for Autism Spectrum Australia and Very Special Kids.

 

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