Oakley inspires in leading his peers

Oakley WebNews

Although Oakley’s story has already been well publicised through local media, there’s more to tell. From his early years to 2017 when he was recently elected to the school council after receiving a record number of votes, he has achieved much. Oakley is the first student with Autism ever to be elected to school council at Bassendean Primary.

How his journey began

Oakley’s mum, Kylee, tells of his early days with very little speech, high anxiety and struggling with gross and fine motor skills. In 2009, Oakley joined the Autism Association’s Early Intervention program. Those days of early learning provided a valuable start, preparing him for the next stage of life’s journey. Then Oakley began school at Bassendean Primary.

From the child with Autism who had very little speech and high anxiety, to the one who is now a key member of his school’s leadership team, shows just how far Oakley has travelled. Kylee tells how:

“He gave a very dynamic and inspirational speech about how he would use having Autism to his strengths, and was selected along with four other students out of 17 candidates.”

Creating peer sensitivity

Kylee said she has worked closely with parents across the school community to create peer sensitivity and awareness to ensure her son could enjoy his school life free from bullying and ridicule. She said she had a very open relationship with many of the students and their parents, always making herself available to answer any of their questions. Kylee gives credit to the other students, saying “the students have been amazing, understanding and very caring towards Oakley.” She believes that much of his success is due to the “honesty, openness and appealing to the better nature of his peers.”

Valuable skills for school and beyond

Oakley’s skills development continues with help from the Association’s School Aged Intervention Services, managed from the Midland Centre.  While the support he is receiving has a focus on valuable skills for the school environment, they will also serve him well for life beyond school.  Anxiety management has been ongoing to support Oakley to work towards his speech. The acclaim given to Oakley’s inspirational speech shows how well he has absorbed and applied his guidance. With the added support he is also gaining greater insights into the more complex aspects of social engagement, such as taking another person’s perspective, turn taking, initiating conversation and forming friendships. With a prime goal being to make and maintain friendships, it appears Oakley has gained not only friendships but considerable respect.  

Reflecting on Oakley’s achievements, Kylee said:

“To see Oakley elected as a leader is just beyond words for us as family. Not only are we extremely proud of Oakley, but also of all the students who have supported him along the way.”

“Of course, he still has his challenges and quirks, but his peers are not blinded by this and accept him for the beautiful, loving clever and funny soul that he is.”  

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