Friday, 2 May 2008

02May08 - Disabilism

Disabilism n. Discriminatory, oppressive or abusive behaviour arising from the belief that disabled people are inferior to others. (You will not find this word in any dictionary)

Disabilism unfortunately is a fact of life for Lucy and people like her. We have seen this first hand time and time again in our every day lives. Lucy will have to face this for as long as she lives and we will have to protect her from it as much as we can. The sad fact is that disabilism has such a firm foundation in our society that without real effort from the authorities and a commitment to effective education, it will always exist. Few outside the experience of living with disability have any real appreciation of why disability exists or how difficult the lives of disabled people can be made by the thoughtless, uneducated views of the able bodied. Throw away comments made for laughs can have a profound affect on those they target and cause needless upset. Unfortunately it is true that disabilism is not only inherent in the adult population but is displayed by all ages including those young enough to be excused for knowing no better. However if young children are displaying the characteristics of disabilism the questions must be asked, "What is missing in their education?" and "Where do they get their opinions from?". It is also true that without proper education the young carry their prejudices into adulthood and the cycle of disabilism continues.

Once again disabilism has affected our lives this week. The saddest fact is that Joshua was the target and for the first time had to deal with this prejudice that up until now we have been able to protect him from. Joshua came home from school on Tuesday feeling very low. There had been some trouble in the playground involving himself and some other boys. He had been pushed and one of the boys had said something to him. When Joshua asked why, the reply was, "Because your sister is a spaz!" Joshua has only ever treated Lucy with love and care. He is very proud of his little sister and shows her off just like any sibling would. He was understandably upset and when retelling what had been said would not even say "that word" while Lucy was in earshot. This careless comment affected us all deeply and although we are not unrealistic and know what school playgrounds are like, for Joshua to be confronted by this at his age by boys of his age is extremely upsetting. Joshua asked us not to do anything about it because he did not want to create more trouble at school. We agreed that we would treat it as a "one-off" and not mention it to his teacher. We would have left it at that but the next day he left school under the same cloud. It was clear that the previous day's event had not been an isolated incident. The taunting had continued in the playground on Thursday both verbally and with those horrible hand gestures imitating spastic movements. The boys involved were doing this saying to Joshua, "This is your sister". It is utterly shocking knowing how helpless and lonely Joshua must have felt. It makes me so sad knowing that these boys don't understand the negative impact their actions have had on our lives this week. I don't believe they can even understand what they have said and done. I don't blame them, I blame society and I blame the lack of disability awareness education that allows such prejudices to grow and fester in the minds of young children. In ten or twenty years time these children will be responsible for making policy decisions and supporting the disabled community. If we are going to change attitudes then we must start with the young. We could not allow Joshua to deal with this on his own so we did see the Headmaster of the school who was horrified by what we told him. Hopefully he will be able to reappraise the attitude in the school towards disability awareness and protect Joshua and children like him in the future from the mindless taunts of the misinformed.


Anonymous said...

Hi Guys
Totally with you over poor little Josh. Suzie's family had the same with their daughter. Education is the answer. Kids are very cruel, sometimes without realising. keep smiling. UJ

Anonymous said...

It was awful to hear that someone was giving Josh a hard time at school and the fact the brought Lucy into it is just cruel!!

Josh dont let people like that get you down they dont have a clue what their talking about. You possibly know Lucy better than anyone and I dont think for one minute Lucy would let a bit of name calling get her down!!

Chin up and move on!! There not worth it!!

Loadsa love Lea xXx

Anonymous said...

Reading the blog made me sad and cross. Well done for standing up to the bullies Josh and telling someone but I know it must be hard.I hope the school sorts it out as education is the best way to broaden such narrow minds (although I can think of some less politically correct ways too!!!)
Nicky and Co

Anonymous said...

Poor Josh - especially as he is the most loving and caring brother Lucy could ever hope for. I'm sure the head teacher will sort it out.
Sadly though that is life and there are those sort of people out there. what goes around comes around and somewhere along the line they'll get it back.
Big hug to Josh.
the VHs

Anonymous said...

Lucy is very fortunate to have you for a big brother Josh and not one of those thoughtless boys. Well done for the way you handled it.
A big hug for you both.
Granny & Grandad xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Joshua,
Some children can be very hurtful and cruel because the don't understand.I know you will stick up for your little sister Lucy and you did the right thing by reporting this incident. Your a good lad and we are very proud of you.
See you next month, lots of love and kisses.
Granddad & Gran Haigh.