Madeline Cornelius

Maddie is a stylish and vibrant young woman who lives in a picture-perfect home straight out of an interior design magazine.

Filled with quirky adornments, bright colors and girly trinkets, the house is a reflection of Maddie’s feminine and playful personality.

While today the 26 year old, looks comfortable in her home –painting art to decorate the living spaces, completing daily chores to ensure the house remains spotless and cooking up a storm in her sun-filled kitchen, the process to move into her own place was a long time in the making.

“Maddie was diagnosed with autism when she was two years old. I took her to a local pediatrician, who said that she will need lifelong institutional care, “says Maddie’s mum Meredith.

Thankfully, the family chose to ignore the doctor’s comments. “While her biggest challenge is expressive language delay, Maddie is able to read and comprehends far more than she is able to express through talking,” explains her mum Meredith.

“We wanted Maddie to have the best life she could. We really wanted Maddie to have her own place,” she adds

As an initial step of preparing Maddie to live on her own, the young woman moved into a granny flat, within the family home. During this time, Maddie had worked hard to develop skills for living on her own.

“We essentially started up different systems like laminated checklists of what she needed to do in the morning and what she needs to do in the afternoon, but we don’t need to do that anymore. Maddie is smart and has a good memory, “explains Meredith.

Before the big move, Maddie had spent a great deal of time curating the home of her dreams. “My vision has always been that things for Madeline be inspiring, positive and pretty,” says mum.

Maddie moved into her new home at the end of November last year. Although mum, Meredith admits that this was a nerve-wrecking moment, Maddie’s new living situation has been “much more successful and positive for her in ways we could never imagine.”

Because she receives Individualised Funding through Manawanui, Maddie was able to choose her own support staff to help her settle into her new home.

Maddie currently employs three support people, who help her with different areas of her life.

Kirby is a nursing student who helps Maddie with her day-to day tasks. “She gets here at 7 and is here to keep Madeline on task for an hour and a half in the mornings. During the week she will take her grocery shopping and help her write a shopping list. “

Ashi is a university student who hangs out with Maddie in the evening and makes sure she gets to bed on time. The pair also enjoy learning together. “English is her (Ashi’s) second language, so it’s quite interesting to see how they sometimes learn a new word together.”

“Maddie relates well to her young female support people and her new support person Mikey, a young man with Aspergers, whom she views as her peer,” says Meredith.

The pair, paint, sew, make jewelery and listen to music together. Today Maddie wears a baby blue polka-dot dress, proudly sewn by her.

Mikey enjoys spending time with Madeline and has nothing but nice things to say about her.  “Maddie has got a very positive outlook on life. She’s really cool, very intelligent. She’s just a really nice person to be around,” says Mikey.

“They are two peas in a pod, really,” gushes Meredith. “It’s great to see that Maddie has people in her life that are closer to her age and a mix of genders. That has worked really well.”

Maddie’s life has evolved to suit her interests and personality.  She has plenty of time to enjoy her love of reading, relaxing, listening to music and good food but also spends time working in her own business, Maddie & Co, a scanning service for people wanting digital copies of their old family photos.  “It’s a great opportunity for her to do some mental work and use her visual and computer skills while completing some meaningful and productive work for others,”says Meredith.

“She’s just living a happy life. It’s been an amazing journey and we are very optimistic about Maddie’s future and are so proud of what she has accomplished so far!”