What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

In my Shoes

Those of living in Australia might have seen 4 Corners on the ABC last night (for those who haven’t you can get it here).

Overall, the programme was good, a necessary wake-up call. But later I was lying in bed, trying to work out the sense of unease niggling at the back of my brain. I couldn’t put my fingers on it. And then two of the CPecialparents articulated exactly what was bothering me.

Moo's mum from Terrible Palsy noted that “4 Corners took the easy route out and stuck to stereotypes and pity tactics.” And there was the core of my unease about the programme.

Pity and stereotypes.

No doubt those caring for the severely disabled are doing it hard. No doubt they need a whole heap more of serious support and help. But is pity what they need?

You will often hear it said by parents. My child is not a problem. My child’s disability is not a problem. The problem is society’s response. The snide comments in the supermarket. The difficulty to find information. The lack of services – and not just respite. The hundred and one rules for every tiny bit of financial support. The inadequate therapies. The non-existing equipment. The endless begging rounds to government departments and charities for basic equipment. These are the things that are difficult and stressful.

One of the CPecialparents put it eloquently:

“I find balancing his need for therapy and my need to work to pay for [her] therapy hard, I don’t find [her] therapy hard. I find the additional (and sometimes exorbitant) cost of the ‘extra’ things just to bring [her] to an equal level with [her] ‘able bodied peers’ hard. I find it hard to accept that people want to put limitations on my child. I find it hard to accept that access to most things is a drama. I find it hard to accept that the Governments think this is ok. I too don’t want to be pitied – that would be disrespectful to [my child]. My life isn’t hard, the red-tape is.”

I know we need to get the message out, and if we need to be hard-hitting to get it done, so be it. But there is more complexity to this story.

And where on the programme were the parents of children with a mild to moderate disability?

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