For us, we remain as anxious as ever about the future for our precious boy. In recent times we have had an unwarranted social worker allocated with no experience of autism, being ignored or passed from pillar to post by our MSPs when support has been sought and discovered just how poor CAHM’s services continue to be. A petition with a powerful message from over 2000 people affected by Autism has been buried by our Scottish Parliament who clearly doesn’t want public opinion unless it can be used for political gain.
Like so many though we just keep on doing our best to keep challenging inequality and providing support, to keep trying to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance.
Inspired by Autism had a busy and productive drop in this week. It is so therapeutic to be among people who truly understand and who are willing to offer practical and emotional support to each other.
Engaging with ‘professionals ‘ and policymakers has so often produced such disillusionment and disappointment I feel inclined to keep my distance these days.
Until there are indications of change that reflects those living with autism’s needs and wishes we will remain in parallel universes.
Andy’s sensory processing differences often cause difficulties for him but sometimes his reaction to sensory experiences produce great excitement and happiness. Here Andy is standing at our back door where he likes to feel the temperature difference on his bare arms and face. The snow that was falling in the light from our kitchen and his warm breath condensing in the cold air seemed to be adding to the moment for Andy causing him to stim, laugh and verbalise.
When Dylan sang about the murder of Hattie Carroll he ridiculed the idea that the ‘ladder of law has no top or no bottom ‘. It’s a powerful and moving song that challenges the inequities in the American justice system in the 1960’s.
Listening to a lawyer talk about present day Scottish legislation affecting children with disabilities at recent training events it struck me how little our modern Acts and legal system has improved. Inequality is sadly still very prevalent despite promising terminology. Furthermore our contemporary Scottish Acts have ‘no bottom ‘ in the sense that they are weak and are largely not enforceable by ordinary families. Dip into the Education (ASL) Act, the Equality Act or the Regulation of Care Act and see how far you get against the ‘ big fish.’ Terminology is often almost impossibly vague and when challenges are mounted local authorities and health boards have the legal resources to bankrupt most individuals who would put up a fight. No wonder they thumb their nose at ‘statutory’ obligations !
Pursuing ‘statutory ‘ entitlement is so often a highly complex, emotionally challenging and draining system for families living with disabilities. It brings ridicule to any notion of social justice and shame to us all.
Today a small victory occurred for a family I work with at IBA. It was not perhaps of huge significance in the grand scale of the inequality faced by people living with disability. It was however the culmination of a 7 month struggle. It was a determined effort to stand up for the rights of a child let down by a system that had shown a cumulative lack of understanding and compassion. That is all it takes to fail a young person and family who bravely face great challenges on a daily basis.
The conduct of those who had influence and power in these matters stands in stark contrast. Self interest and a refusal to stand up and speak up lest they risk their position and privileges characterised their failures.
A safety net that should be a cornerstone of a civilised society has been fought for and won. I’ll sleep a little bit better tonight knowing that.
10 examples of real discrimination experienced by people with disability right here and right now.
1. Despite all our disability legislation most individuals and families could never afford to make legal challenges. Service providers and local authorities know this and often behave accordingly, rendering our laws worthless.
2. Tolerance of diversity is limited and mocking people with disabilities is sadly still common place – from the President of the US to the young woman who was mocking Andy in the Co-op tonight. ( if only she had any idea of the challenges he faces and the courage he shows everyday)
3. Professionals displaying their “we know best attitude “ based on nothing more than arrogance and self importance.
4. A widespread abuse of parking bays for blue badge holders by people who simply don’t care. (I’ve stopped challenging – it’s embarrassing, stressful and often dangerous.)
5. The targeting of essential services , facilities and support by individuals in power and their organisations based on lies masked by jargon and unproven concepts.
6. The frequent practice of government and politicians using disability as a way to score points.
7. The impossible demands made by society on unpaid carers.
8. The reduction in social workers, Welfare right officers and an almost complete lack of independent advocacy.
9. The all too common usage of dehumanising language when referring to people with disabilities.
10. A pervading culture of fear around making a stand against these discriminations based on threats to employment and being ostracised for not behaving like sheep.
The need for listening, honest judgement and displaying real courage has never been greater for the wellbeing of those affected by disabilities.