My son, the Invisible Man.

Meet one incredible mother.

Sally Richards is Jackson’s mum. And Jackson has a disability. But she long ago decided that it was not going to stop him living a good life.

Sally brought her message to  TEDxCanberra, calling it “Creating A Meaningful Life for Jackson”. Jackson, was born with a “profound intellectual disability.” He cognitive ability is similar to a baby between nine months and 18 months old. There is little that he can do for himself – he cannot comb his hair or put on his own socks.

Sally has dedicated her life (which she says is intertwined with Jackson’s) to defy they nay-sayers and create a good and ordinary life for her boy. The one he deserves as a human with a disability. Not a disabled person.

“26 years ago my third son Jackson was born.”

"He is not a person who is generally welcomed, admired, respected or championed in our society. I call him The Invisible Man because often I go out with him and it is as if he isn't even there. People don't acknowledge him."

"It all depends how you look at things. These (below) are the same people you saw before, only now Jackson seems like the only one who looks like he doesn't have a disability. In his early years, I didn't see any potential in Jackson for a good life. Because ever since he was born I'd been told a single story and I blindly accepted that story as truth. And that story was this: Jackson would forever be a passive observer of time, energy, resources and emotions. He would be a person who sucked up care and would never give anything back. He is a person who should be with his own kind. His own disabled kind not his own human kind. Forgetting he is human first and disabled second."

"I thought he deserved better than that. I have created for him a life of his own, a job of his own and a home of his own. Jackson has a job. He has a permanent part-time job in a courier business that I created for him. He works from 8:30 until midday every weekday morning for 6 years so far. He is not the Invisible Man when he is at work. He is respected and greeted. For those people saying that Jackson doesn't really work because he has so many people helping him with the job. I know politicians with an army of people to support them. I know Executive Directors with EAs who still don't reply to an email I send them."


"Then he needed a home. It took 10 and a half years but he is the first of my four sons to have their own home. He will be the first resident in the community and people will choose to live there knowing that someone with a disability lives there. I will never again have to listen to someone saying they don't want a person with a disability living in their community near a child care centre."

"We do disability particularly badly. Out of 27 OECD countries we come in at 27 for how we treat people with disability."

"I knew that Jackson was an extraordinary person who wanted ordinary things. And I knew that I am an ordinary person that had never done extraordinary things. I somehow had to do extraordinary things."

"I knew I had to do something different. People needed to see the potential for creating a better life for people like Jackson. While families and companies and organisations said yes, politicians said no, no, no and then finally yes."

"Jackson taught me that we limit lives like his because of our restricted imaginations of what is possible for him. We have low expectations for quality of life for the Jacksons of this world. Jackson taught me what are the really important things in life and to fight for them. He taught me that it is not all about me but it is about Jackson and others like him who cannot create good lives for themselves. It is all of our responsibility to give the Jacksons of this world the entitlement for a good life without having to resort to be beggars."

"Jackson, my son, I hope that now for you I have created a good but ordinary life that is truly worth living."

And here is the full inspiring video: