Plans coming to a halt

The proposed quarry for Nain may put a stop to Deb and Andrew Verner’s plans for a supported employment centre for youth and adults on the autism spectrum.

Their son, Ryan, 19, was diagnosed with Autism when he was three. As Ryan got older, they realised they needed to move, which required four years to find the perfect house with a clean environment.

For the last ten years, Deb and Andrew have been talking about creating a supportive employment centre that would fill the void for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their life after graduating school.

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Deb said, “There is a lack of support when [ASD youth] leave school to actually help them transition from school life to being an adult. It’s left up to the parents and a lot of the parents are working to support them.

“We wanted an environment where they can come and feel like they are doing something important. We know families are struggling to find a niche for their child who is on the spectrum.

“Kids with autism have lots of sensory overload, they can either seek it or fear it… They are hearing sounds a lot louder than what we might be hearing them. They might hear the blasting [at Nain Quarry] a lot louder than what we would be hearing.”

The couple are worried that with the Nain Quarry potentially moving in, they might have to find a new place to move even though their own son is relatively desensitised to surrounding sounds.

This can be strongly attributed to the quiet environment they currently have and lots of work over the years.

This also makes their business plans for a supportive employment centre impossible to move forward due to the blasting sounds that would come from the quarry and the movement of the dolomite from the site.

At the moment, Nain is perfect for this type of centre. It’s the main reason they moved there since, “Nain is quiet and doesn’t have that level of noise stimulation.”

Deb and Andrew have found that most supported employment agencies are only able to cater towards certain needs of people on the spectrum but anyone caught in the middle are left with nothing.

“There is a major requirement for a specialist support centre…. A lot of these kids are being put in nursing homes, some even in jail, because society can’t deal with them…Suicide rates with these kids are massively high,” said Andrew.

 For the full story see this week’s edition of The Leader.