Rockhampton's Nash Johnson continues to play his beloved sport, despite losing his vision.
Rockhampton's Nash Johnson continues to play his beloved sport, despite losing his vision.

Incredible way vision impaired boy plays competitive soccer

NASH Johnson has vision loss, but that has not stopped him from playing his beloved football.

Thanks to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the support of Bluebirds United Football Club, the 12 year old has been able to stay in the game.

Mum Cresta said Nash started to lose vision two years ago and was eventually diagnosed with Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.

She said when that happened, he felt he lost a part of himself and his social network.

"Then a senior team player at his club took him under his wing to help him in the team to keep him positive and give him confidence that he can do this, and now he's his support worker through the NDIS," Cresta said.

Bluebirds has introduced inclusive practices to enable Nash to continue playing competitively, and he attends training twice a week as well as Saturday game days.

 

Rockhampton's Nash Johnson continues to play football thanks to the support of Bluebirds United Football Club.
Rockhampton's Nash Johnson continues to play football thanks to the support of Bluebirds United Football Club.

 

"Bluebirds completely jumped on board straight away," Cresta said.

"They now have yellow soccer balls and yellow markers, where Nash has to figure out where the markers are and the ball coming towards him.

"He has also had to map the area he plays in; two fields, then up a hill and steps. It is at least a familiar place to him, and everyone knows he is there."

Cresta said accessing the NDIS had been brilliant for Nash as it was helping him grow in confidence to function more independently in the community.

Nash received assistance to apply for and implement his NDIS funding from Carers Queensland's NDIS Local Area Coordination Partner in the Community Program for the Rockhampton region.

"We thought we'd be carers for the rest of our life, but we also saw our child was missing out on being himself," Cresta said.

"We couldn't have given Nash the ability to grow into independence without the NDIS. He would have been left behind otherwise; now we have hope."

Cresta said technology was vital for Nash.

"We have achieved a lot this year. Technology is so expensive, but it helps him access everything a sighted person can," she said.

 

Nash Johnson has accessed the National Disability Insurance Scheme which, his mother Cresta says, has been invaluable.
Nash Johnson has accessed the National Disability Insurance Scheme which, his mother Cresta says, has been invaluable.

 

"Everything has been adapted for him at school and at home. Nash uses an Apple pen to write his homework; his iPad has allowed him to integrate himself into the class so he can better participate and can easily email his homework through to his teacher.

"Noise-cancelling earphones are used so he can use his audiobooks and do his schoolwork.

"He also has shoulder earphones to listen to things like a recipe for his cooking, and they can link into Google Maps so he will be able to hear orientation mobility to map and walk himself to soccer club with a support worker in the future.

"Nash also uses his iPad confidently to take photos of the restaurant menu using the app Office Lens, where you take the photo and can zoom in."

Cresta said that at home Nash had plenty of lights in his room as well as centre lights in his wardrobe which helped when choosing clothing.

Cresta said Nash's support worker, Harry, also helped him at home and out and about, readying him for high school.

"He comes in to help Nash organise himself," she said.

"He's good at adapting to what we ask him to do, such as getting Nash confident to get on the bus for school and skills in the home, like cooking.

"He looks up to Harry, seeing he is a male teaching independence skills at his home."

 

Carers Queensland can help people find out more about the NDIS. If you have a disability but are not eligible for the NDIS, Carers Queensland can also help identify and link to options for support in your community. Contact Carers Queensland on 1300 999 636 or cq.enquiries@ndis.gov.au.



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