Do you understand the models of disability?

Everyone now talks about the social model like its very common knowledge in terms of what it is and what it means, as well as its opposite, the medical model. But is this really the case? Do you really understand the models?

I would argue in reality, while the social model is more well known than it used to be, in reality I would not argue the model is not as understood as it should. I would say many professionals, like social worker, are aware of the social 
model as it is now in their training. But I believe many disabled people are simply not aware of the models and their alignment of the medical or social model would be dependent on how they have entered disability.

Since many disabled people who take on impairments during their lives discover their impairment through medical professionals, they are most likely to adopt a medical model understanding of themselves as disabled people. Since these are the ones currently dominating the headlines in newspaper and the social media, it can sadly question how can the social model be seen as the norm?

Did anyone ever understand civil rights?

Disabled people in the UK fought for civil rights in the 1990s and I would argue that is what I successfully got with the Disability Discrimination Act and now the Equality Act. But did anyone really understand what they were and what it meant for disabled people?

Civil Rights is a marxist capitalist theory where it is right to be a citizen, and being a citizen means taking up responsibilities like work, having a family and being a consumer in return for education, housing, public services and so on. The right won was the right to take responsibility without being discriminated not the right for a free ride as many disabled people has now assumed it to be.

Disabled people as a whole have appeared from their user led charities, have refused to take up the rights they fought for and it was probably not what they wanted or a new generation of disabled people have misunderstood the rights we fought for for the inclusion of disabled people, not to be able never to work and demand red carpet treatment.

Have we lost the social model?

In examining the current state of disability politics, I fear we have lost the social model as a new generation of so-called disability activists ignore their previous generation, assuming themselves to be the first. They are fighting for what can only be described as medical model pity.

Whether it is welfare reforms, a hatred of Atos or apparent hate crimes against disabled people, user led charities and individual activists, as well as the wider disability dependency industry, are now simply portraying disabled people as naturally vulnerable victims of society who need protecting from the bad guys.

The call for inclusion as equal citizens have been scrapped by the user led charities who creating these demands and replaced by a simply demand of cold hard cash for anyone who wants to define themselves as disabled without cause and at any cost to the future inclusion of disabled people and the fabric of society.

A few of us are trying to keep this social model alive and I hope when this shameful chapter in the history of activism is over, the role of the social model will return and we can reverse the medical model gains of the last 2 years brought on by a new social media ‘sick’ activists that have been a danger to real disabled people.

Everyone can work

I know I keep going on about this but everyone can work in their own way however small. It is not about the amount and type of work someone can do but the attitude towards work and making a meaning contribution to society which is important.

I believe it is crazy  we are a generation of people who are fighting very hard to be labelled unfit for work and therefore worthless to society as economic burdens. I must make it clear I do not think disabled people or anyone with an impairment is worthless but I do not believe anyone is unfit for work either. I have always been insulted when people have assumed I am unable to work just because I am disabled.

We must change this defeatist attitude amongst so many people as we must work into a reward rather than a punishment. 

The fun of wetsuits

I have always loved the water and doing any kind of watersports. As well as swimming, I love all kinds of watersports that actually involve getting wet, and because I get cold easier, I always need to wear some kind of wetsuit even when some people can manage without one and this is why I see wetsuits as a symbol of wetsuit, even if they can be a nightmare to put in and take off.

In this context, I am in Belgium this week at an European disabled surfweek doing windsurfing, which is just up my street as this is the kind of fun I love. I know many disabled people are not interested in watersports but I think they are the sort of things we should try at first once to add to their experiences of life. We also all need a bit of fun in our lives!

Supporting people through recovery

I feel one of the problems with how some disabled people are responding to the welfare reforms is that why we do not support people during the recovery period of an sudden onset of sickness and residual impairment. I should explain for those who may not know, as well as having cerebral palsy from birth, 3 years ago I had an acute nerve virus which left me temporarily paralysed from the navel downwards, requiring 9 months rehab so I do have a bit of experience here.

The modern hospital is an acute setting where there role is simply to sort out the immediate problem until someone is stable and then they simply discharge people with little considering for the recovery process from that point. Therefore I believe many people are left in limbo as being ‘sick’ but stable where they are left without support or a proper plan for their physical and emotional recovery.

So many people are left on their own to come to terms with their new situation with little to do other than claim for benefits and other they think they should be entitled to as they go through the angry stage of change. This is why they become so obsessed with the benefit process and blame ATOS for not providing them with the emotional validation they are seeking.

We therefore need to better support everyone through the recover process physically and most importantly emotionally to enable them to see the positive side of the situation they are in to be ready to celebrate their abilities and make a new meaningful contribution to society.

Why do I work so hard?

I have a new live-in German volunteer and currently when of the things he finds surprising in how much I worked and so I would try to explain it in a blog. Firstly, what he means is when I am not sleeping, eating, having a shower or going out, I am at my computer doing something and I question whether that is always work.

It should be noted that at my computer, I am always either listening to music or watching TV. If I am doing proper work I am more likely to be listening to music. On my computer, I may do doing a whole variety of things like reading and replying to emails, reading news feeds on Google Reader, surfing the web, my banking, my shopping, write this blog or other articles, and also maybe do a bit of work work like big reports.

Because of my mild bipolar I need to keep my mind doing something unimportant to be sane and I often find myself big less exciting jobs to do in the evenings which I call my knitting  Right know my knitting is adding a picture on my notes on evernote that do not have a picture so there have nice thumbprint to make them more identifiable and all smarter. In the last 3 weeks I have done 6000 and I have another 6000 left to do. You may think why but why not? A smart notebook is a smart mind and I get a personal satisfaction from being organised and tidy in everything I do.

I really do enjoy my work and I do not feel I am a workaholic as I learnt when and how to relax and enjoy myself, and I also believe there does not need to be this divide between work and enjoyment.

Not my fight (Fit for Work)

It must be acknowledge there is a fierce battle raging between ‘disabled people’ and the government in relation to disability related benefits. But on closer inspection, we can understand it is not disabled people in general who are fighting but a few specific group of people recovering from sickness or have minor impairments as the group of people affected by the welfare reforms.

These people are ofcourse support by a liberal media and a disability charity industry which feeds off the dependency of disabled people. But while people want to portray the reforms as affecting all disabled people, by anyone’s estimates this is simply not the case.

This is simply not my fight and if ‘the sick’ were fighting their battle in their own name I would be quite happy as its not my business. But the problem is they are fighting in my name and the name of all disabled people because they know they  have little public support in their own name.

I am fed up of being told we have to stand together as ‘disabled people’ as an excuse for ‘the sick’ to trample over the views of real disabled people as they seek medical model pity over social model inclusion. They should get on with their own fight and let me get on with mine.

Can we really measure disability?

One of the biggest problem with current and indeed future disability related benefit is that it tries to measure disability, as oppose to impairment, and then try to put absolute lines between who is disabled and who is not disabled, where a fixed uncalculated amount of money is provided to those who cross the line regardless of their individual needs.

Now measuring impairment is hard enough and trying to compare impairments is near impossible as what basis do you measure from like resources needed, % of body/mind affected or emotional experience. For the later, the level of impairment may have very little to do with how someone is coping.

Measuring disability means the social effects of impairment of a specific range of activities depending on the benefit. By working on what people can and can not do, its using abstract situations that end up making no sense. I can achieve any outcome I wish in my own method and with the right support.

I would therefore scrap all disability benefits and replace them with a single positive assessment system that supports people with individual payments to assist them to meet their outcomes. So it is not about what you can or can not do but what do you need to achieve their outcomes.

Beggars can not be choosers

While I would like to say that it is accurate to say beggars can not be choosers, I would like to clarify what I mean by this. I believe that we all have freedoms and choices, and when we choice to ask  the government for any form of assistant, we must understand they is a price for doing this and they have to agree to the restrictions placed upon us.

I am certainly not saying that the government can treated anyone dependent on them unfairly or with malice but people must understand any assistance, while maybe legally binding, is not so much as an devine right but rather a privilege of a civilised society. But the government must get some sort of return on the assistance its provides people and therefore the choices offered to people requesting assistance has to be limited to be fair and reasonable to the tax payers funding the assistance.

Assistance must be redesigned to enable and empower people to be as less dependent on the state as they can be and so having proper freedoms the state or others can not take away from them. We need to change the attitudes of people from asking for their right to be dependent on the state forever begging for more to one where they ask for their right to be supported to be independent  and financially in control of their own lives.