Sally Richards 3294 Views

Building a Life For Jackson

This is the story of how one small blonde woman had 4 sons in 6 years, one of whom has a profound intellectual disability and with the help and support of many people and organisations created a job, a home and a community for her son who requires 24 hour support. She also survived her husband's suicide in 2009.

Jackson West was born on the 1st January 1986 the 3rd of 4 sons to myself and my husband Mac. He was born with a chormosome abnormality called Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, a deletion on the 22nd chromosome, and is one of about 1,000 disagnosed cases worldwide. But the test to identify the specific chromosome abnormaility was not developed until years after his birth and for the first 21 years of his life we were told that there was no-one on medical record in the world with his abnormality. So we had no-one to talk to, no support group, no idea of what his development would be. To say it was tough is an enormous understatment.

As well as this Mac had bi-polar 2 and was intermittently extremely unwell at various times and was sometime admitted to hospital for treatment. He was a wonderful dad and continued to work thoughout his years of wellness and illness. Eventually though his depression became unbearable and he committed suicide in June 2009 leaving me as the sole supporter of  my son Jackson. My other three sons had all left Canberra and so I had no family support.

My primary goal for Jackson has been to create for him a good life of home, love, family, community, work, leaisure and good heatlh. To this end I established a courier business around his skills and preferences. The business, JACKmail, picks up mail from post office boxes and delivers the mail to Canberra businesses. We have been operating for nearly 8 years and have not missed a day of delivery. Jackson makes deliveries with the support of his driver and work colleague Philippe.

I, with 2 other families, created a community for Jackson to live in his own home with 24 hour support. He moved into his home in May 2013 at the age of 28 and he and I both have different lives now. Jackson is very happy and his life is good and rich with people, work, leisure and fun.

The websites below are full of information about him, his business and his home.


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Sally Richards

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