Thinking about disability

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Thinking about disability

I've been watching some of the programmes in the BBC's Defying the Label season and it's got me thinking about the many people who live with disability, whether it's their own or someone else's.

Life can be a huge struggle for anyone whose everyday life is made difficult by lack of provision for their needs as well as people who are on the receiving end of abuse and discrimination because of their disability.

There are also important people in my life who have so-called 'invisible' disabilities (autistic spectrum disorders or chronic pain, for instance), which aren't immediately obvious to an observer, and that can be very hard too. It's amazing how intolerant of quirky behaviour the general public and - very sadly - family members can be. "Oh, X will grow out of it" and "It can't be that bad" are things I've heard many times over the years...

It's great that the BBC is showing these programmes as anything that gives the rest of us an insight into - and hopefully some understanding of - different disabilities is very important in my view.

What do you think? Has disability touched your life?

I'm sure a lot of the

I'm sure a lot of the problems faced by people with disabilities are to do with a basic lack of understanding and empathy. I remember feeling very ignorant in my 20s because, unlikely as it may sound, I simply didn’t know anyone who lives with disability. (Although in retrospect, as LogartyMaya has pointed out, I probably did - I just hadn't noticed because many disabilities are invisible.)

A few years later, I was working on a parenting magazine, which made me only too aware of how ’normal' disability is. At the time, I hoped I’d become a mother one day and wanted to be prepared (although I know now how incredibly naive that sounds) for anything. So I spent some time volunteering with a charity called Kith & Kids, which provides respite care for children with disabilities.

It was the best thing I could possibly have done. I learned a lot – about other people and especially about myself. Decades on, in my work and personal life I've drawn on this experience many times. Ignorance was not bliss. I'm sure education is the way forward.

I saw the programme in this

I saw the programme in this series on disability hate crimes with Adam Pearson, who is a great presenter. It's incredible how appalling some people's behaviour can be towards anyone they see as 'different' to themselves. I also watched the programme about the little boy with neurofibromatosis, which caused one leg to be much bigger than the other due to masses of tumours. It was heartbreaking when he cried as he described an adult's disgusted reaction to his leg in a swimming pool when he was four years old and explained that he hadn't been able to bring himself to swim since. I agree that education is the way forward (along with effective legislation), although I suspect that some people are so mired in their prejudice that this will be an ongoing process (which is why legislation is also important).

I didn't answer the question!

I didn't answer the question! Yes, disability touches my life in that it touches everyone's life as we're all part of society. I also have two friends with physical disabilities that cause them to have problems getting around and doing certain everyday things. One in particular has talked about getting stares and comments but is quick to challenge people on it. Mostly, though, people where I live are decent would be horrified at the thought of being disablist.

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