Lani-Diane Juric has suffered from the disability global development delay, for the majority of her life. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
It might not seem all that remarkable for a 21-year-old to have a car, a boyfriend and be going to university, but for Canberran Lani-Diane Juric it's almost a miracle.
When she was 14 months old, Lani-Diane was diagnosed with global development delay.
At five years old, she couldn't chew, she couldn't speak and she wouldn't be able to tie her shoes on her own until she was 13.
''I [felt] left out when I was younger, because I thought I was alone, because I couldn't do what other children could do,'' she said.
Now one day after the 21st International Day of People with Disability, Lani-Diane will celebrate her 21st birthday as an independent woman living a full life.
Her mother, Kim Juric, said she originally went through the traditional channels and was told there was nothing to be done.
''If I'd followed their advice, she wouldn't be driving, she wouldn't be at uni and she wouldn't have the independence she has now,'' she said.
Mrs Juric looked everywhere for ways to help her daughter, including travelling to Philadelphia to attend a specialised training course.
Both mother and daughter have travelled down to Melbourne every six weeks for 13 years to have an hour session with a specialist kinesiologist.
In the lead up to her 21st on Wednesday, Lani-Diane said she felt more like a woman than she ever had before.
''It feels like I'm free,'' she said. ''The freedom to drive, the motivation to study, the motivation to look for a job, that's something I've never had to before.''
According to the Australian Network on Disability, only about four per cent of tertiary students in Australia are people with disabilities.
For other parents who have children with disabilities, Mrs Juric said you have to see your child as where they could be and not listen to those who tell you they can't.
''You take baby steps, day by day, focus on the small improvements and you make a decision that you'll do it until,'' she said.
''God only knows where she'll be in another 21 years! I mean I have a feeling we're just getting started. A whole new journey is about to begin.''