Emily finds her voice

With support from Aruma, Emily has become a vibrant member of the Minto Supported Independent Living house.

July 21, 2023

When you walk through the doors of Minto Supported Independent Living house in New South Wales, you can instantly tell that this house is a home.

The walls are lined with framed photos of memorable moments, and in the outdoor living area, you hear the residents chatting and laughing together as old friends do.

What might surprise you is that when Emily first moved into the house, she had just been diagnosed with selective mutism, and for the first few months, no one heard a peep from her.

“It quickly became evident that Emily struggled to communicate with people she did not know well or feel comfortable with. We immediately knew she needed an environment with consistent and trained staff. Those staff members also needed an avid interest in supporting Emily with the intense Person-Centred Active Support she required,” said Manager of Shared Living, Jacinta Tester.

Person-Centred Active Support is a way of providing someone with a disability just the right amount of assistance that enables successful participation in meaningful activities and the development of social relationships.

The journey to finding Emily’s voice started by providing stability through consistent staff. The next step was for the team to encourage Emily to take control of her decision-making. Each shift, they would sit with her for a one-to-one conversation hoping it would encourage Emily to speak.

It wasn’t long before she started to express herself with whispers.

Jacinta continued, “Once Emily started whispering, we all decided to try implementing a consistent response by saying, “I can’t quite hear you, Em.” Emily continued to whisper until her voice cracked one day, and no one was more surprised than her!”

Emily is now not only speaking but is also regularly heard singing tunes throughout the Shared Living Service and entertaining staff. What a fantastic outcome!

Emily’s Person-Centred Active Support did not stop there. Emily decided she wanted to communicate better with her sister, who has a busy work schedule. Emily purchased an iPad, intending to learn to send emails. In true Emily fashion, she achieved her goal,” said Jacinta.

Staff assisted Emily in setting up her email address and followed up with one-to-one time teaching her the email program. The consistent approach and support went on for several weeks until one day Emily told staff she had successfully sent an email to her sister.

Jacinta continued, “I truly believe the Person-Centred Active Support provided to Emily by the Minto staff has helped her evolve into a confident and assertive young woman. She now communicates using her voice and other means, like email. She’s even taught staff members a trick or two along the way.”

Through Person-Centred Active Support, Emily has also learned how to research, view daily events and news, and find answers to questions on her iPad.

Way to go, Emily. We can’t wait to see what you achieve next.


Read more Aruma news