Max is an enthusiastic, gifted and talented learner but the anxieties and social difficulties that accompany his diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder make it hard for him.
A Grow a Star scholarship is helping 13-year-old Newcastle student Max to pursue his passion to learn Japanese.
Max is an enthusiastic, gifted and talented learner but the anxieties and social difficulties that accompany his diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) make it hard for him to extend himself in his areas of interest.
He finds it difficult to warm to new experiences, people, environments and to develop trust in his teachers and mentors. For many years while his friends were learning instruments, doing art classes, catching up and playing games, and participating in sports, Max was at speech and occupational therapy appointments working hard to get to a point where he could manage his anxiety enough for a play date.
Language is the Year 8 Newcastle High School student’s favourite subject and Max dreams of going to Japan.
A Grow a Star scholarship is helping Max and his mum Amy with the costs of one-on-one Japanese language and culture classes with a private teacher. Amy hopes the tutoring and the mentoring from Grow a Star co-ordinator Shane will help Max to feel confident enough to participate in a home stay or exchange program in Japan.
“Max is thoughtful and uniquely creative with an amazing sense of humour,” Amy says. "The recognition and sense that his difficulties are understood through the extra tuition, could be an experience that will deepen his sense of trust in community and grow his personal confidence.
Amy came across the Grow a Star program when enquiring about affordable housing with Home in Place.
“My mother and sister both have complex health issues and rely on me as their full-time driver and I have recently reduced my hours to care for Max. We are all feeling the financial strain, and I am extremely concerned about our housing affordability.”
She says it is difficult to fund the opportunities Max deserves, to grow his independence and socialise.
“This is where the support of Grow a Star will be so important for Max.”