** an update of an old post from a previous blog **
Don’t get me wrong. I would love to see emails pinging into her inbox offering her employment. I would love to see her heading off in the morning in her wheelchair to a paying job where she is appreciated for the talents that she has. Because she does have talents: she can radiate happiness and calm to others, soothing those struggling with distress or depression and she can pick a pop hit from the first viewing of a video, but somehow I don’t see her being hired by a record label.
You see she is is severely disabled.
And not the kind of severe disability that means you can still attend a third level institution .
No, my gorgeous daughter is non-verbal, and cannot use an iPad or any other form of assisted communication – but she knows how to express her feelings, and I’m very glad about that. But I’m not sure that smiling and frowning would be considered a sufficiently useful contribution in the average workplace
She is partially toilet trained, but needs a Changing Place with a hoist and bed to use a toilet outside of the home. How many offices have one of those?
Despite years of physical therapy, she cannot walk and her arm function is so poor that even getting a spoon to her mouth is almost impossible for her.
Because of her multiple disabilities it is difficult to assess her functioning age: but reports suggest that physically she is under 12 months, and intellectually about 24 months.
But perhaps she doesn’t really exist, or is not an actual person at all?
Because according to a report in The Irish Examiner yesterday: “Having a job is essential in order for those with intellectual disabilities to participate in mainstream society and take an active part in the community.”
The report also said that “3,200 disability allowance recipients” were surveyed about their attitudes to work. No-one surveyed my daughter. In fact since all respondents ‘said’ their answers, presumably no-one unable to communicate was included in the survey.
Once again the small number of adults like my daughter are being excluded and ‘othered’ by the conversations about disability.
I feel angry and insulted and it’s happening more and more.
I learned that at least one Minister in the previous Government believed that every young person with a disability is employable. Are we heading towards the workfare scenario in the UK that has led to the deaths of thousands after their benefits were withdrawn? Where my daughter would be called into an interview about work and perhaps her benefits would be cut when she didn’t answer the questions? Does the State and the Disability Organisations really believe that they can develop training courses for young people like my daughter, that will achieve what 15 years of intensive schooling has failed to do? Equip her with the skills to go out and get a job?