Joshua Leon Shearman
The story of Josh so far…….
Getting to Know Josh.
Josh is a loving, energetic and happy boy most of the time. Josh loves Trucks, country music, listening to YouTube videos on the TV, going for a drive, hanging out with his family, going swimming, any type of transport and eating.
Josh lives at home with his Dad and Mum, sister and brother. Josh has a younger sister Laura, and a younger brother Blake.
Josh has a big extended family; however, we don’t live near them, so we only see them for visits and special occasions. Josh has many friends that support and care about him. We have been fortunate to have made life long friends that will always be a part of Josh’s life. This is very important to our family as we appreciate the support and love we receive. It is not only a great support for Josh but our whole family.
Josh was born in Muswellbrook on 3rd June 1999. He was our first-born child and we instantly fell in love with our new son.
Josh was a happy, placid baby that made first time parenting easy. It was soon obvious that Josh wasn’t developing and reaching his miles stones as he should. Our first Paediatrician Appointment was when Josh was 3 months old. Seeing Doctors, specialists, and therapists soon became our new normal.
Josh was 2 years and 4months when he was diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. Our world shattered and mended all at once. On one hand we were being told our son had a lifelong disability and we had to learn a whole new way of parenting, teaching, coping, learning and survival. On the other hand, we finally had an answer as to why Josh was not reaching his milestones at the age appropriate stages of childhood. We at least knew what we had to learn about and think about our future and what we wanted for Josh’s life.
Josh didn’t walk until he was 3 years old and bum shuffled everywhere.
As the years past and therapy visits and doctors’ appointments became our new life, we also wanted to educate ourselves on what a good life for Josh could look like. We wanted to know what we could achieve, what was out in the world to offer Josh, and what other families in similar situations have done.
We went to our first Family Advocacyhttps://family-advocacy.com/ seminar in Newcastle. At this seminar we were educated, empowered and inspired from some amazing families to give Josh the life he deserved and the life as parents we want for our children. It was that weekend in Newcastle all those years ago that lead us to where we are today.
We started to think about our vision for Josh and what School, friendships, community involvement, life beyond school could look like. We knew we wanted Josh to live a full life, a purposeful life, with meaning and real relationships and experiences.
Our first endeavour to find the right school was something we will always remember. From Principals, telling us there was special places for kids like Josh, to Principals not knowing what to say. It was our last school meeting that sealed the deal. We had found a principal that didn’t hesitate, made us feel included and wanted from the start. Our initial tour of the school was just like any other parent would take. So, the journey of school life began. Enrolment papers were filled in, Uniform was purchased, and Josh turned up for his first day of kindergarten with all his peers. Josh had a teacher’s aide to assist him throughout his day, he was included in everything all the other students did.
Josh was a valued member of his local primary school. Josh made friendships, and was accepted as part of his school community.
It was in Year 2, I approached our local bus company to ask if Josh could catch the school bus as we lived out of town. It was not an issue and from then on, Josh caught his local school bus to school each day. He had his designated seat up the front near the bus Driver and his teacher’s aide would be waiting at school to get him off and into class.
Josh had an amazing time at his Grafton Primary School. The support Josh and our family received was something we will never forget.
Our next Adventure was our move to Bathurst. High school was fast approaching, and we didn’t know what that would look like for Josh. Especially being new to a town, and not knowing anyone. We enrolled Josh in Careene School when we first moved to Bathurst. We had a nice time at the school, however we knew it wasn’t our vision for Josh and his future.
A call to the local High School led us to having our first meeting at Kelso High. It was like our first encounter with Josh’s principal at Westlawn Public. We were given a tour of the school and we knew that it was the place Josh would complete his High School years.
During that time Josh was diagnosed with scoliosis. Many trips were had back and forth to Westmead to the scoliosis clinic to check Josh’s spine.
Josh continued to grow at a rapid rate and out grew his mum quick. He soon caught up to his Dad. This wasn’t in Josh’s favour, as his Scoliosis became quite bad and needed to be corrected.
In 2014 Josh underwent spinal fusion surgery to correct his spine. He now has 14 screws and 2 large rods in his back to keep him a bit straighter. He healed from the surgery without any complications and at that time he became even more of a hero to us. It was one of the bravest things we will ever witness.
Josh continued to attend school each day. He went swimming for sport and this became something he loved to do as well as being very beneficial to his wellbeing. He continues to love to go swimming when ever he gets the chance.
JOSHUA’ S EDUCATION.
Josh started Kindergarten in Grafton in 2005 at Westlawn Public School. Josh had an amazing time at Westlawn. He was part of his school community and participated in all aspects of school life. Josh went on excursions, participated in eisteddfods, school concerts and plays, sporting events and everything his class did. He made many friends and was missed dearly when we moved to Bathurst in 2010.
Josh attended Careene Public school for Year 6. High School was a time of confusion and nervous anticipation. Not knowing many people in Bathurst after only being there for a year, we really didn’t know what to expect for Josh’s High school years.
Our first Meeting at Kelso High Denison College made us realize it was where Josh would complete his High School Education. Josh was made to feel welcome from the very first day. On orientation day, a very nervous mum waited at the gate to see if he was going to be ok. Josh’s mum was soon sent home and told everything was under control.
Josh’s first orientation day was a huge success and Josh started Year 7 at Kelso High School Denison College in 2012. Josh had a very successful inclusive education at Kelso High.
The support and encouragement he received was fantastic. He was respected and liked by his peers, teachers and SLSO’s. Josh and our family made lifelong friendships and will treasure the memories made though out Josh’s education.
In Year 11 we started to think about work experience for Josh and what he would like to do and what might best suit his skill building. We wanted to find work places that Josh had an interest in, the business was accepting of Josh and how we could build on some skills that would further his development towards life beyond school. Together with support from the school we found some business’s that Josh might find to be a positive experience.
Josh would be supported 100% by his SLSO (support person) to do his work experience. Josh would do an hour at each place of business. This would be spread out throughout the week. We found that an hour was the perfect time for Josh to stay motivated, engaged and busy.
Josh’s work experience has been a great success. He developed skills, made relationships, became a valued member of a team and was part of his community.
Cranston’s Transport/ Kelso Truck Tyres and Mechanical didn’t hesitate to give Josh an opportunity to work at their business.
He first work experience was with Cranston’s Transport. His love of Trucks was ticked off and with the staff at Cranston’s and his support person they came up with some ideas for Josh to work in the showroom. Josh’s job is to unpack a box of items that are to be displayed on the shelves and hooks. Over time Josh became faster and more proficient at these skills. Putting the mud flaps on the hooks was his favorite thing to do.
Josh was a valued member of the Cranston team and soon was given his own Cranston Transport Shirt to wear to work. Josh was very proud of his Cranston’s shirt.
The Bathurst WholeFood C0-Op
The Whole Food Co-Op in Bathurst gave Josh another opportunity to do some work experience. There Josh packed away the produce and sorted the display areas. After some time there it was soon realised the space was a little small for Josh as well as customers. Josh enjoyed his time spent at the Food Co-Op.
Bathurst Council Depot
Bathurst Council Depot was soon to follow. Josh attended work experience at the Depot for an hour on Tuesday afternoons.
Josh was soon packing away all kinds of items in the store room. He enjoys the atmosphere and environment. He is kept busy and has learnt lots of new skills. Packing and stacking boxes, putting away tools and store room items was just some of the things Josh does whilst working at the Bathurst Council Depot.
Bathurst Harris Farm Markets
Harris Farm Markets in Bathurst completed the work experience opportunities for Josh. At Harris Farm Josh packs away lots of varieties of produce. Josh has learnt to display the produce so it is presentable for the customers to purchase.
He greets the customers and high fives them as they pass with their trolleys. The customers are always happy to see Josh and never hesitate to say Hello and tell him what a good job he is doing. Josh is a valued member of the Harris Farm Team.
Josh soon received his own Harris Farm shirt to wear to work.
We are so proud and pleased to say that Cranston’s Transport/Kelso Truck Tyre and Mechanical, Bathurst Council Depot, and Harris Farm Markets have all extended their support and will keep Josh on as a volunteer / work experience after he leaves school. Josh will be supported by his support worker / assistant.
We appreciate and Thank these generous businesses for giving Josh this great opportunity to continue to develop his skills, be a valued member of a team and developing relationships in his community.
Practicing the MAIL RUN
We knew we wanted to create a small business for Josh that would give him a job of purpose and meaning. We wanted to create a life for Josh that would involve him in his community and he would become a valued and respected member by his community.
We went to many Seminars and advocacy workshops to inspire us and keep us motivated. It was at one of these workshops that the idea of a courier business would be ideal for Josh. A mother of a boy with a disability spoke about their family creating a mail business for their son. She spoke about how it had created a positive life for her son and how it created relationships and a life of purpose.
We knew from that moment that we wanted to do something similar for Josh. We researched if Bathurst had anything similar and soon realized there was an opportunity to create a mail courier service in our own community.
Together with Family and Friends we brainstormed ideas and a name for the business.
JLS Mail Link was the perfect fit. JLS are Josh’s initials. Joshua Leon Shearman.
Leon was Josh’s Grandfathers name. We are sure he would be feeling very proud if he was still here to witness the achievements of his Grandson, Josh.
We knew Josh soon had to practice the mail run and get to know the Post Office and developing some delivery skills.
We approached Mick and Joanne Simpson from Bricks N More Bathurst http://www.bricksnmore.com.au/
We asked if we could collect their mail on a Wednesday morning to practice Josh’s mail run. Mick and Jo didn’t hesitate, and we soon were delivering their mail on a regular basis. After a conversation with the school about our goal for Josh when he leaves school, Josh started doing a school mail run within the school, delivering mail to the relevant teachers etc…
Together with the School Mail Run and his Wednesday practice run to Bricks n More, Josh has developed skills to transition into his new working life beyond school life. Some days he is co-operative and other days he is not so much. Josh has learnt to greet people and hand over the mail, to get in and out of the car, put mail into the bag and help zip the bag up.
Josh Graduating Year 12
On Thursday 16th November 2017 Josh Graduated alongside his peers. It was a Huge achievement and we could not have been prouder of the young man that was standing there to receive his Higher School Certificate. All the hard work and determination over the 13yrs of Josh’s education was worth every moment. Our vision for an inclusive life for Josh was our goal and together with an incredible network of support, our goals were being realized.
As parents we could not have been prouder. Josh had completed 13 years of School.
He had a beautiful partner for his Graduation and he even managed to walk down (half way) to get his certificate.
Josh had an inclusive education and he was now heading out into the world with new goals and dreams.
It hasn’t all been easy and at times I would say it was extremely difficult. Difficult for Josh and difficult for us as parents. Doubting your choices and decisions, and wondering if its all worth the hard work that goes behind the scenes. Whenever we had these negative feelings we would always have a family member or friend to nudge us all to remember our goals for Josh and to look towards what possibilities could arise.
One step at a time and fantastic things are possible.
We knew we had a vision for Josh’s life and what we wanted for him. That vision kept us focused, determined and empowered us to fight the good fight.
It was So worth all the hard work, laughter and tears. It was worth every minute of school meetings, IEPs, therapy appointments, and everything else that comes with following your heart. Josh was supported by some of the best people in the business.
It is a good feeling when you can drop off your child at school and know they are in safe hands until you collect them again that afternoon. I don’t know if it was luck on our side or just the love of an amazing young man that captures the hearts of everyone he meets.
We were truly blessed to have the incredible support team around Josh for his school years. They made Josh’s time at school so much richer and memorable because they were a part of his journey of life as well.
Josh is now ready to see what the big wide world has to offer. We as his family will support him to reach his full potential and to have the best life possible.
The next chapter of his life is just beginning. We are looking forward to all the new things that will enrich his life.
Watch this space………………..