There was a huge pile of paperwork waiting for me when I emerged from my week’s break with friends and family. But the most urgent was not household bills or disability forms, but the need to confirm the summer activities for my profoundly disabled daughter.
It got me thinking how grateful I am that she has a busy schedule, and is more likely to be tired than bored. And when she’s bored, she lets me know! So it’s something I try to avoid…
Her busy schedule depends on inclusion. It depends on accessible venues, the understanding of event organisers, and acceptance of everyone involved.
But sometimes we can still feel like outsiders. Sometimes we go to events and realise that they actually aimed at young children, not 22 year olds with the intellect of someone much younger. It can be awkward.
Events that are designated as inclusive can be better, like parkrun, with a special mention for Tymon Parkrun which explicitly welcomes disabled children and adults. We’ve been to other runs that have a connection to disability too, such as the AsIAm autism 5K or the Alanna Russell Memorial Run. At all of them we tend to enjoy support rather than stares, and we feel part of something, part of a community, and not outsiders being allowed to participate. As a concession.
B also enjoys membership of a number of disability clubs: The Rainbow 13+ Club, The Rainbow Junior Arch Club, Remember Us in Balbriggan. They practice inclusion too, because most members have mild to moderate disabilities, and have speech and are mobile. Unlike my daughter. But while not everything is obviously suitable for B, the organisers never have a problem if I want to involve her in some way.
You see my daughter is different even by the standards of the disability community, but parents, carers and the disabled young people give us a stronger sense of acceptance, belonging and understanding. And that’s a much more comfortable place to be.
Other inclusive disability events include the recent disco night Bounce, and AbleFest, a music festival both for people with intellectual disabilities in July. One she attended, one we hope to attend.
Shopping centres are not my favourite place, but my daughter loves them for the people and the buzzy atmosphere, and they too are becoming ever more inclusive, with plenty of space and now Changing Places Toilets too, with the hoists that are essential if she needs to ‘go’.
I’m not expecting every service or event or activity to be inclusive for everyone – as a parent to two disabled young adults with incompatible needs, I don’t believe that’s possible. Life is messy, we’re not all the same, there is no one size fits all solution to every problem and every need. Just so long as they can access what they need to survive and thrive, I’ll do my best to be cheerful.
Now I’m off to see what inclusive events are on today so my daughter and I can get out of the house, especially as the sun is actually shining as I type this!
Have a great week and head over to Lakes Single Mum for more reasons to be cheerful xx