Saturday, April 14, 2012

Demonizing disabled, demonizing carers

I can almost live with Matt Lucas and even Ricky Gervais - their comedy isn't helpful, but it is after all meant to be entertainment and not taken seriously - them or their comedy.

I find it much more difficult to accept the sort of comments that at least one (Labour, for god's sake) councillor is on record as saying - and I've heard similar from a relative. That families with disabled children are getting their houses adapted with grants so that they can increase their property values. It's not just crass and incorrect, it's another step down the road of making it acceptable to brand disabled people and their carers as scroungers. As though we'd accept having a child with cerebral palsy, or being born with a learning disability in return for money. I imagine there are politicians out there who would sell their body and soul for cash, but I don't know any people with disabilities or their families who'd accept being paid to have life limiting conditions. Politicians shouldn't judge ordinary people by their own twisted standards.

I would have given any amount of money not to have needed to adapt our house so we and he could cope with his disabilities. I'd still like other places to be accessible and have spent lots of my own money on things we/he needed which non disabled/non carers would have used for holidays and surround sound TVs. Being disabled costs money as well as being limiting in it's own terms. To suggest we like being disabled/carers for financial reasons illustrates the profound lack of understanding of what disability means in the real world for real people. It's not that we don't care about money - we're forced to. But it isn't our first, or probably second, third or fourth priority. Our own priorities went something like - first, making sure he could breath, second, keeping his fits to a minimum, third, making sure he was as comfortable as possible, fourth, trying to get him as good a life as possible. We needed money to do some of these things but the money itself isn't that important.

These sort of comments make it acceptable to discount people with disabilities, make it acceptable to slag them off and ultimately make it easier for politicians to make cuts to services for disabled people.

I know the councillor in question has since apologized - and no doubt my own relative would say of course he didn't mean us - but the damage is done.


  1. That's a truly horrible comment - as you say, twisted standards. It hits home to me, as we are currently applying for a disabled facilities grant to create a downstairs room for my four-year-old daughter with Rett syndrome who can't sit, stand or walk. Actually I think it will diminish rather than increase the value of our house, as it reduces 'living' space and creates a space that will suit us but probably would seem odd to anyone else. I'd give anything for my daughter to be able-bodied and for us not to need these adaptations. I might add that we've just moved to this house to meet our daughter's needs, and that we're mortgaged to the max to do so - on half our previous income, as my daughter's needs make it impossible for me to work as many hours as I used to. No-one would choose disability for the financial rewards! Thanks for highlighting this issue, Ned.

    1. I had to get a wetroom installed in our downstairs bathroom for my mum. If I ever go to sell the house, I'll have to have it redone, because it is very utilitarian looking and I don't think many would want it (unless they needed a wetroom as well).

  2. We went through this process over 20 years ago - it was hard, expensive and complicated, but I didn't feel anyone begrudged us the adaptation grant then. Maybe things are worse these days, certainly people seem to feel more comfortable criticising, and even insulting disabled people and their carers. You have my sympathy and best wishes.
    I intend watching this councillor closely as he's mayor of Preston this year.