Thea Calzoni

My name is Thea Calzoni. I am the parent and carer of Julian Fleckner. He is a happy young man of 32 with an intellectual disability who lives with his dad and me. He has had lots of socialisation and skill development from going to a special school and attending day programs.

Julian has a really active life but he needs support with his personal care and monitoring his obsession with watching DVDs and accessing the community. He needs support to cope with transition when he has to get from his computer to another activity. His understanding of time is not as finely tuned as it is for people who are more intellectually able. He also has difficulty with communication; he doesn’t have many words and it’s difficult to know how many words he understands because he can act as though he understands when he may not.

What helps with transitioning him to new activities is giving him lots of advanced warning and some persuasion may be necessary. Sometimes we’ll use pictures as memory jogs.

Communication books are a good tool to use to and from his day program. Communication books are very important because I can write in them about things Julian has been doing and support workers can look at it and use to speak to Julian about what he has been doing and Julian can say YAY.

With an intellectual disability and communication difficulties relating to Julian can be quite challenging. His way of communicating is through sounds and gestures; he will use the first syllable of a word to indicate the word he is aiming for. I have felt very responsible for a lot of things in Julian’s life and have tried to make it the best I possibly can, but I also have a job.

I’ve had to learn to share Julian’s care more with my husband. I used to feel that I was the one most responsible for his personal care but then I got Leukemia and I was in hospital for 3 months In that time, I wasn’t available to help at home. Julian and his dad got a long ok without me. I’m recovering from cancer now and things have changed at home – I think probably for the better. I have learned to step back a little.

For more information about Thea please contact Speakers Bank’s Project Officer on 03 9314 0988 or

Watch Thea’s video: