26 November 2019

Aaron defies the odds and excels

No-one thought Aaron would be able to finish mainstream schooling or work a typical job. But his mother, Robyn, saw how determined he was and refused to give in.

No-one thought Aaron would be able to finish mainstream schooling or work a typical job. But his mother, Robyn, saw how determined he was and refused to give in.

We were told that Aaron had to attend a special disability school and wouldn’t be able to cope in mainstream schooling,” Robyn remembers.

“I was adamant; I knew my Aaron would be able to do it with the right support.” Due to complications during birth, Aaron was born with significant intellectual impairment and experienced speech difficulties from a very young age.

“As an infant he had character but we could tell he wasn’t developing like other kids,” Robyn says.

“Preschool was hard, really hard, but we were supported with specialised education units.”

While Aaron’s disability made socialising with other kids hard and his learning was slower, Robyn was determined to see him go through mainstream schooling.

Starting at Wynnum West Primary School, in north Brisbane, Aaron completed his first two years of schooling with classroom assistance from Robyn. His teachers saw him improving and becoming more capable and from Year 2 onwards, he was given the independence to complete schooling on his own.

In 2018, Aaron was completing his final year of high school at Murrumba Downs Secondary College. A determined and hard-working student, and always asking teachers for more opportunities for learning, he came across a national speech competition for Year 12 students, run by the Australian Government.

“One day, he brought home a letter about this competition and it just twigged because I knew how hard Aaron had worked to get to Year 12,” Aaron’s stepfather, Allan, says.

Aaron sought help from his support group of schoolteachers, as well as Robyn and Allan, to put together a speech thanking his community for supporting him to finish school. In his speech he told his story to his fellow students. In it he explained,

“I have almost completed Year 12 in mainstream schooling, something I was told I couldn’t do.”

They sent his speech off to Canberra, along with those from thousands of Year 12 students across the country.

“We got a call from a representative in Canberra, who told us they loved Aaron’s speech,” Allan beams.

Aaron was visited by members of parliament and handed the highly commended award at his school. A few months later, he graduated. Robyn and Allan could not have been prouder parents.

“He works so hard, he’s so passionate and driven,” Robyn says.

”To see him graduate as a mainstream student was the best day of my life.”

Almost a year on from that milestone, Just Better Care Support Professional Michelle has been supporting Aaron since January. Gaining confidence, he is now working as an apprentice at a local butcher, where he is excelling and known by everyone in the community. 

He is Aaron the butcher.