A found it very interesting when a fellow blogger called my arrogant and this is what the point of being a blogger, any blogger? When I mean is a blog is a public statement of how one individual sees a specific issue with the hope they may not be the only person in the world with their view. I believe arrogance comes from a reader finding offence in the writer’s viewpoint, especially when it is a confidence viewpoint, because it is does not take into account their viewpoint or those the reader feels the writer must respect.
I personally find what this fellow blogger writes arrogant as it is written from my perspective as the middle class perspective of someone looking at the problems of society from afar and making misinformed liberal political statement from what he reads rather than he experiences. I understand if he feels to understand my thinking and how I feel it is based on experience rather than academic ideology and the newspapers, he will believe I am arrogant and that is his problem not mine.
I am confident in what say in my blogs and if that makes me appear arrogant to some people, than so be it, that is all part of creating change!
I have cerebral palsy and I am proud to have cerebral palsy and it is as simply as that. For me, cerebral palsy is my impairment and has a larger significance in my identity than have being disabled because under the social model of disability, disability is external to who I am and may only affect me in specific situations. Therefore I am not always disabled but I always have cerebral palsy.
This is may I found it odd when a fellow disability trainer took offence at the fact I said I had cerebral palsy and describe how its affects me. I do this because I like to be honest and open about who I am and to help put what I say in context. She argued that there is no way I could have a understanding of the social model, which I found odd, and clearly while she is entitled to her own opinion, I am entitled to mine.
I don’t really care which other things as it is my identity and I have the right to portray myself in the way I want. Having pride in one’s impairment is the next logical step forward from the social model and it is not the step backwards she believed it to be.
As I said yesterday, today I am flying to New York and while it is for a working holiday, it is still a change that is as good as a rest. It is the first summer holiday I have been some years and I now to try to have one every year in one way or another in the future, as well as having a break at Christmas.
A summer holiday for me has always been some kind of working holiday. For many years I did week long to 10 day seminars for young disabled and non-disabled people across Europe with a project called European Human Bridges. They are certainly hard work but enormous fun. Sometimes immersing yourself in a new form of temporary stress can give you a bigger break to your normal stress than sitting on the beach, with nothing to occupy the mind.
I never know what is coming next is my life and while I was so much enjoy this summer holidays, I also look forward to my holidays in the future.
People who know me will know my favourite song is Proud by Heather Small. Is the song she asks “would have you done today you make you feel proud?” and I believe this is a brilliant question to answer and one I ask myself all the time. It does not have to be big or something anyone else has noticed so long as it is something which makes you proud and gives you a smile of satisfaction.
I believe we can all do at least one thing each day to make us proud and that it is a great mentality to have. It has always kept me going when my life has been hard and especially when I consider all the things I have done in the past that makes me feel proud, and this is worth more than all the money in the world.
So the question I must ask if ofcourse what have you done today to make you feel proud?
Tomorrow I am flying to New York to spend a few days there before travelling by train to Pittsburgh for a conference on AAC. I have been through New York by plane and train before but I never had the good luck to by able to stay there and I am very excited about this amazing opportunity to visit a true capital of the world.
I am my hotel booked near the 9/11 Memorial and I have not booked anything to do as I want to go with the flow and just soak up the flow. I also plan to answer the food and the variety of fast food available. Having my electric wheelchair and my German volunteer is certainly make it easy and fun but still tiring.
I have already prewritten my blog articles for when I am away to keep up my commitment while having some fun time.
Every now and then I like to check who I am and what I have achieved in my life. It is very clear that in the last 40 years the life opportunities and experiences available to many disabled people has dramatically improved as this is our time to be liberated. Many of those ‘disabled’ people complaining now that we have never had it so bad failed to understand how others have got them the rights they now appear determined to abuse.
At 38 I must recognised that I have played a part in the liberation we now enjoy. Although they is nothing so far I can put my name to as saying this is what I helped achieved, there is so many little ways I have improved things for me and for others. I have made complaints and put things right since my teens and I continue to jungle working with 100s of organisations to make things right. My Wheelies project as for example supports 1000s of people around the world in ways I will never understand. Just this weekend I have launched a website about taxis – www.thetruthabouttaxis.com
What I do is natural and I am a part of the big fight in my own way. I also believe the devil is in the detail and there is why sometimes the small changes make the biggest difference as we all have our own parts to play in the liberation of disabled people.
In reading about the history of the Paralympics here, it is interesting to see the forerunners of the games went back in 1948. Many see the home of the games as being Stoke Mandleville where the paralympics started as the Stoke Mandleville Games, which is also famous for its spinal injury unit, and its the reason why this year’s Paralympic mascot is also called Mandleville.
At Stoke Mandleville is a purpose built sports centre which is the headquarters of wheelchair sports in the UK. Next to it is the paralympic village designed for the 1984 Paralympics which is jointly hosted in the UK and USA. I am actually stayed at the village, which is basically a big concrete dorm.
In the early 1990s I belonged in a local disabled swimming club back in Horsham, Sunbeam Swimming Club, and each year some members went to a weekend conference and AGM of the National Association of Swimming Clubs for the Handicapped (yes, awful name which still has not changed)at the Stoke Mandleville Paralympic village.
So there is my small claim to fame. I was also a member of the Cerebral Palsy National Swimming Squad for a new years although I never had to opportunity to complete internationally but that’s another story. I also hope to be a part of this year’s paralympics which I will tell you about when it happens.
Within social care, dignity is seem as an important quality to strive for as someone desired by users. There is however a few things to consider here. The first is that if has made dignity an issue then people have made an assumption that social care is naturally indignant and therefore it highlights professionals and users attitude towards social care.
The second issue is what is dignity and who actually defines it. If we truly believe in people’s right to choose their lifestyle than we must accept that dignity is something only the user dictates. But this is not what is happening as professionals try to regulate dignity. I fear often dignity is what families, often middle class, dictate who users should be treated because they are discomforts as people looking in.
But when people need support, priorities will change and as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs suggests when we are coping with the basics, we will have different priorities. While a family may perceive using a nappy indignant and their ‘loved one’ should be put in the toilet whatever it costs, the loved one may be so tired that they are fed up of being manhandled onto the toilet and would prefer a nappy at that time to save energy etc.
People with severe cp will often be very comfortable with nappies, bibs and many other stuff others are uncomfortable with. I know I get just offended with people refer to my nappies and pads, especially when they whisper the word to me as I am proud to use nappies.
So we must challenge notions of dignity to avoid the concept being used as a new form of social conformity.
After some recent events involving taxi drivers I am come up with a theory of, lets say oppression for the want of a better word, which explains three stages that it could be argued happens in the oppression of disabled people or anyone else when it relates to treating someone less favourably than what could be expected.
I would like to argue that the first time someone treats another less favourably it can be considered as ignorance. As a gesture of goodwill after then anything else, it could be assumed that people were unaware of the impact of their actions and once they have been made aware of the error of their ways, it will not happen again.
The second time the same thing happens, the same excuse can not be made and clear an act of discrimination has occurred and then offender needs to be told that “we are not amused” and the behaviour that has occurred will not be tolerated again as it is now clear they understand they are doing something wrong.
So the third time the same thing happens from the same person or people, it could be considered as a hate crime. I know I have my severe doubts about the existent of hate crime in the way it is being portrayed by some people, I am talking about something very specific where it can be clearly demonstrates a knowing and deliberate treatment of someone because of a specific identity.
If people raise the stakes by repeating the same oppression again and again, this is needed to be taken as seriously as their actions deserves, especially when there is a clear line of evidence that their behaviour could have been averted.