It takes a Mountain to raise a child

Joseph Beutel and Ky Greenwood
Joseph Beutel and Ky Greenwood

It really does take a village to raise a child, or in the case of Ky Greenwood, a mountain.

The 23-year-old has autism and is intellectually impaired. 

He is also the star of a series of videos on autism alongside his uncle, actor Hugo Weaver, produced for Autism Queensland.

When the first video was produced Ky was 15 and struggling with his autism.

“He wouldn’t go to school. He was depressed and angry and unmotivated,” mum Nicole said.

“We were worried about his future. When we had had hope, I was starting to really question it.”

However, Ky’s life began to turn around when he started working as part of his certificate II in horticulture for Tamborine Mountain Nursery.

“It gave me more independence. Having someone else telling me what to do aside from my parents and Greg and Tracey Ruddle (the nursery owners) were really patient with me and gave me a chance,” Ky explained.

Greg put Ky forward to help out Joseph Beutel of Joseph the Greengrocer and from there his life really blossomed.

“There was a huge change. He loved going to school and was happy to be working. I never had trouble getting him to go to work,” mum Nicole said.

“In the beginning, he would drop his head and not talk to customers, but in the end, everyone noticed his whole demeanour change. Everyone would say hello to him at the greengrocer.”

Joseph said Ky is his best worker.

“Joseph’s going to change the shop to “Greenwood the Greengrocer,” Ky joked.

The second video focuses on the impact living with an autistic child has on the family, particularly Ky’s sister Jorga, who is now 22.

It’s a very personal and heartwarming insight into the highs and lows that she has experienced as Ky’s younger sibling. 

“No one thinks about the siblings and the effect on them. Her life was pretty restricted at times, especially when Ky was younger,” Nicole shared.

“Her life revolved around what Ky would do. As much as we tried to make it seem even – where we chose where we went to holiday or to dinner – it was always about what Ky could handle. Jorga couldn’t have her friends over at times because they’d be scared.”

The last video documents the confidence and change in Ky as he goes about his jobs at the nursery and Joseph’s.

“From having no hope, we saw a future for him. He’s got his licence and a car. Neil Fisher, the tennis coach has been a huge support beyond the tennis courts,” Nicole explained.

William, Ky’s father, wanted to spread awareness about autism and approached his brother-in-law, Hugo to make the videos. He was only too keen to get on board.

“Ky’s connection to the community is what really turned him around,” said William.

The videos have won several awards around the world including silver for the Cannes Corporate TV and Media Award.