Joe Rae

Joe Rae, National Star learner, 2011–2014

When Joe arrived at National Star he had limited mobility and showed little interest in others or the environment around him. When he became anxious in noisy environments he moved into Lake House, which is a specially–designed residence for students who need calm and quiet.

While at National Star, Joe learned to communicate by using switches and, working with the physiotherapy and hydrotherapy teams, his strength and mobility improved. To enable Joe to be more independent, his physiotherapists worked with him to use a walker around Lake House and to use that mobility to make choices on where he would like to be.

‘Learning in a residential environment gave Joe the freedom to become his own person. He left college a mature, confident young man – oceans apart from the vulnerable disabled child who arrived three years previously.’ – Edel, Joe’s mum

This set of skills was further developed in the hydrotherapy pool, linking decision–making and independence to his mobility. The occupational therapy team and the speech and language team enabled Joe to first make choices with switches. He used the new multi–sensory rooms, opened in 2011, where he could choose which activities he wanted to participate in.

‘He has practised turning his lights on and off within his room and responds to his lights coming on with a smile.’ – Joe’s 2012 record of achievement

Joe now lives with his family in the Highlands. He attends a range of accessible outdoor activities with his carer. Every six weeks he takes a five–day respite break and returns to National Star once or twice a year for respite care with StarBreaks.

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