Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Why We Need More Understanding of Disability


I want to clarify straight away that it is totally fine not to understand disability and that's kind of the whole point behind this post - that there seems to be a lack of education and/or experience in society surrounding disability, which has resulted in a lot of people feeling completely out of their depth when they find themselves in situations involving disabled people. 

I wanted to write this post after hearing a statistic that really horrified me - 90% of pregnant women have an abortion after finding out their baby is at high risk of having down syndrome. I can't say how accurate this figure is, just that it came from a down syndrome campaigner. At first I was appalled, but after chatting to a few friends about it I realised that as someone who has grown up around disability I was jumping to the conclusion that women were doing this because they just didn't like the idea of having a baby with down syndrome, when in fact they're doing it because they're downright scared. And why are they scared? Because they have absolutely zero knowledge or experience of disability. Obviously I'm not saying you shouldn't have an abortion if you want one, but the fact that people are so uninformed is a big issue and must contribute significantly to this figure.

For someone who hasn't had any experience around those with disabilities it must be so difficult to know how to act around people with disabilities, never mind begin to understand them so I think it's really sad that people aren't being given the knowledge they need. Women can be in a situation where there is a chance their baby may have down syndrome and they're still not being given enough information.

I think people who do have experience of disability are quick to judge those who don't and I've learnt over time to see it from a different perspective. When I was younger I glared at any other child who dared to stare at my sister, but now I realise it's natural curiosity for a child to be interested in something they haven't come across before. Only a few years ago Nick admitted to me that the first time he saw my sister eat he felt a bit sick (it can be a messy affair!). If he'd told me that at the time I would have completely flown off the handle at him, but when he told me I understood that yes, for someone who hasn't seen Bethany eat before, it's probably slightly off putting.

The fact that I've grown used to people not understanding disability doesn't mean I think people shouldn't. I think there needs to be better education, particularly around mental disabilities that a lot of people don't know how to deal with and better integration within society (in Hull a lot of mainstream schools are now twinned with SEN schools, which I think is great).

I don't really know how to end this post because basically I've just moaned about a problem and not really worked out how to solve it. But I suppose what I'm trying to say is, let's be more tolerant of each other - if someone doesn't understand disability don't jump down their throat because it may just be lack of experience and alternatively, if someone has a disability why not make the effort to better understand it?

Do you agree with any of the points I've made in this post? (If I put them across clearly enough!)

Amy x

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20 comments

  1. This post is so very insightful you have so many valid things to say about this vulnerable topic. Love it!

    xx, rebecca
    awayinparadise.blogspot.de

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    1. Thank you, I'm so glad you enjoyed it :) xx

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  2. What a horrifying statistic, I understand that it must be a scary time but I would have hoped that more people would be strong and loving enough to keep the baby. Great points raised.
    Have a lovely day :)
    Rosanna x
    Rose's Rooftop

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    1. Thank you so much, it's awful isn't it? If people know all the facts and want to get rid of their baby then that's their decision, it's just the worry that it's because of lack of knowledge! xx

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  3. I completely agree with you, there should definitely be a better education system that can teach people how to understand disability and not run away from it. Last year I shot a documentary about giving people with disability a chance to work in regular enviroment and I must confess that I was so scared before we started with filming because I had literally no idea what to expect from the group of people I was about to work with. But they were so wonderful, honest, fun, polite and yes, demanding and tough at times but the experience completely changed my perspective on people with disability. I had the best time with them and was so sad when the filming was over, the whole experience had a huge impact on me.

    xx, Matea
    www.smilesnapsparkle.com

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    1. I'm so glad you agree and that sounds like an absolutely wonderful documentary! I would love to see it if it's available online anywhere? So glad you got to have that experience, more people need that! :) xx

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    2. I think the production company posted it on youtube or vimeo, I'm gonna check it out and send you the link if I find it :)

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  4. That 90% is really a horrific statistic. I hope it's wrong. This post helps me understand a bit more about the topic. Thanks for sharing.

    xoxo Eva | www.evakindles.com

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    1. I hope it's wrong too! Glad it helped you understand a bit more :) thanks for reading xx

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  5. I'm glad you wrote this post, as it is something that should be made more aware. I do feel like it is though, it's becoming more accepted and people are trying to understand, where as years ago it was common practice to make jokes and be inappropriate, so that's good that it's changing. That is a shocking statistic though, but I do sometimes wonder if they think having an abortion is better for the baby, not having to suffer a life of disability, but then again that comes from not understanding the disability. I've never, ever met a person with down syndrome who wasn't happy. They are some of the happiest people I have ever met, love to dance, love romance, are care free and complete balls of energy, so perhaps if they knew this, they would think twice xx.

    Raindrops of Sapphire

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    1. It is becoming more accepted you're right, but I think I've realised there is still a long way to go. They are definitely some of the happiest people and so lovely - I totally understand if people want to have an abortion when they understand the facts, it's just when they haven't been given them in the first place that it's so worrying! Thanks for reading :) xx

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  6. That statistic is crazy, I'm glad you wrote this post, helps me understand a bit more x

    http://www.taintedblues.co.uk/

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    1. I know! Thank you, I'm glad it's helped you understand :) xx

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  7. Thank you so much for this post, Amy. This is amazing. I know many kids in Down Syndrome, since I volunteer at the community. And they are so beautiful, and so sweet. There needs to be an understanding of disability. They are people, just like you and me. Those with Down Syndrome like my cousin, Autism like my brother. They are normal people, and people need to understand that.

    xx Bash |   go say   H E Y   B A S H

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment, it means a lot and everything you say is so true! xx

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  8. I think a of it is fear. I don't have experience of disabled people and they do frighten me. But that's because I'm unsure of how to act around them - like I don't want to offend them, or I don't want to overcompensate with being overly nice and patronising. But I'm an awkward person and not good in social situations, you should see me with children, I don't know how to handle them either!

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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    1. This is 100% what I'm talking about - I think a lot of people feel like you do and it's such a shame you aren't given the chance or the information to learn more about disabled people. Thank you for being so honest - and don't worry I'm really awkward with children too - that's something I don't have experience with! xx

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  9. I am so happy you made apost like this. My ex boyfriend was with me in a dining center in college and one kid with a wheel chair passed by. I was always taught to not stare and treat them as anybody else but my ex looked at him and asked me "what is wrong with him?". The question wasn't the problem, the problem was the way he said it because he implied like it was a problem. Since he did that I realized that there is actually so many people with a lack of education and manners. Thank you for writing about this because more people should be aware on how they should behave.

    Have a wonderful weekend, xx

    My Vogue Style | www.myvoguestyle.com

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment - that's exactly my point, I don't mind that people are unaware because that's not their fault - there just needs to be a better system of education around the subject! xx

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