It was in the beginning of 2006 that I got the ball rolling on becoming independent as regards wanting to do things that my parents were not able to help me to do.
I remember badly wanting to go to a concert which at the time my parents couldn't take me to. I complained so much about not being able to go that my mother picked up the phone and spoke to an IWA (Irish Wheelchair Association) staff member about my desire to go. After that call the person we spoke to came to my house to assess my independence needs. Once that was done, she introduced me to a lady who would become my first Personal Assistant (PA).
I've had many different PAs since. It was the best thing that happened to me. I've had many other achievements since then as a result. If it wasn't for having a PA, I would not have been able to live independently while going to college. I was able to live an ordinary student life while in college and got to experience house parties with friends. I'm living the life that many of my peers with physical disabilities would only dream of. The PA helps me with personal care only. This is a massive help in my life and relieves a lot of pressure from my mother who would before 2006 have been doing this as well as other things.
The PA I have comes to me at a specific time Monday - Friday in the morning and evening. As a result of having a PA and at specific times, my mind is more at ease and I feel freer to socialise with friends that I have made from college.... and that's the way it should be for a woman at 30 years of age. I feel very mature being able to make decisions for myself as regards going out and I don't feel like I need parental permission to do anything or go anywhere. There have been many young people with disabilities who have asked me how to go about obtaining a PA. My advice is to call their local IWA office and ask to speak to someone in Assisted Living Services.
My one regret about when I asked for a PA was that at the time because I was living with my parents, I felt I didn't need weekend hours or indeed hours in the middle of the day. Hopefully in the future when these economic times improve, I'll be entitled to such a request.