Sabastian engineers his dream

by Susan Konstantas – lifeAssist Disability Partnership Worker

I met Sabastian in 2010 when he was studying Year 11 at his local public high school. 

Sabastian at that time was living at home with his mother and older sister.  Sabastian was overweight and struggling with some of his studies and was also quite socially isolated.

When our work together commenced I had been invited to a meeting with the school Sabastian attended to talk to him about the fact that the school did not feel Sabastian should take on VCE studies as they were fairly certain that he would not be able to pass let alone obtain the marks he required to pursue his dream of studying engineering.  At the meeting it became very evident that Sabastian was not going to accept the alternatives proposed to him such as studying VCE part time over two years or studying at TAFE and it was agreed he would attempt VCE.

With the support from a tutor for English studies and his integration aide support Sabastian was able to complete all of his VCE subjects successfully.  He attended his high school graduation in a new suit, generously provided by Realising a Dream, and was awarded a special honour from the school for his efforts over the time he spent studying there. At the beginning of 2012 Sabastian was able to commence study in his chosen field of Engineering at Swinburne University in Hawthorn. 

Sabastian was, and continues to be, assisted financially to attend University through a scholarship from The Smith Family who have also organised a mentor to assist him as he further advances his career in engineering.  He also received a scholarship from Swinburne University after successfully completing his first year of studies in 2012.

While studying his VCE Sabastian commenced work on decreasing his weight which had been an on-going concern for him for a long period of time.  Sabastian was able to alter his diet and he took up riding his bike, which was generously funded through The Nell and Ian Clark Encouragement Fund, and he also worked with a personal trainer at a gymnasium for a period of time.  Sabastian is now in a healthy weight range and continues to eat well and exercise to be able to maintain this.

In order for Sabastian to be able to attend university at Hawthorn he needed to have a means to get to the campus. He undertook travel training with Department Human Services (DHS) Outreach and successfully learned how to navigate the train to and from university. Sabastian even transferred these skills to be able to travel independently home by tram on one occasion and to visit his grandparents in a different suburb on a different train line.  Sabastian is now also in the process of learning how to drive a car and is regularly taking lessons to assist him in the pursuit of this goal.

Sabastian has indicated an interest in helping others in the community and has attended camps for children and young adults with a disability, People Outdoors, as a volunteer where he was able to be an active member of the staff assisting the campers with everyday tasks.  He looks forward to continuing to be a volunteer with People Outdoors and hopes to expand his volunteering work in the future.

Through his work with lifeAssist Sabastian has been assisted to pursue his dreams which have included losing weight, attending university, travelling independently and being more involved as a member of the local community. The changes that Sabastian has made to his life have been a real testament to his resilience, determination and willingness to face difficult situations. Sabastian continues to dream and hopes in the future to continue his studies in his chosen field of engineering, learn the skills to live independently and obtain paid employment. Sabastian has autism.