…our perspectives are borne out of many things, the environment we are bought up in and our life experiences. I was bought up experiencing and understanding disability from a young age, through having a disabled parent. This was a physical disability and I was inspired by both my father’s incredible positivity, alongside appreciating the value of my mother’s ability to be so caring and patient, whilst looking after a large family.
For the latter part of my father’s working life he supported other disabled people into employment, doing so with determination to better the lives of those with both visible and hidden disabilities – seeing their strengths and potential. Much of this was training employers to see past disability, viewing the person for who they are, rather than the individual sitting in either an actual, or metaphorical, wheelchair. As a key lesson, this meant adjusting the perspective of the employers and work colleagues, rather than trying to change those being supported.
At 23 years old, I was to experience the most unthinkable and devastating pain of losing a child (a twin), almost resulting in my own death; and with the knowledge that if my child had survived they would have been profoundly disabled. Subsequently, I became parent to two autistic children. Why are these life experiences relevant? Because they have made me who I am, giving me a purpose and profoundly positive perspective on life and disability.
As the parent of two very different autistic children, I hope that my posts may offer an honest and open perspective on my experiences and personal views. In posts I will not use gender in reference to my children, with one of my autistic children assigned female and the other male. In my wider family I have others members who are autistic and female, defying the commonly held statistical view of autism.
In addition, I will draw upon my experiences in education, autism and SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) from the past 25 years. Aiming to create blogs that might benefit any adults supporting, or being an ally to, autistic children and young people.