Search This Blog

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Disability Blog Carnival #15: Family and Disability

Welcome to the latest Disability Blog Carnival. The theme is Family and Disability. Thanks to the many people who all submitted wonderful, interesting posts to illuminate this topic. If I did not include your post attribute it to pure human error. The topics below emerged out of reading the submissions. Thanks to Kay for the GREAT Blog Carnival image to the left. (Image description: Image is black and white. In it a one legged man stands on crutches on a beach looking out at the San Francisco Bridge next to a small child who is holding onto one of his crutches as one might do to a parents hand.) Enjoy!

Topic: Loss of Anonymity
This topic of anonymity is a BIG one for parents, like myself, of special needs kids as well as disabled adults and their families. As a parent you may be able to pass your beautiful baby off as normal (sometimes depending upon how many tubes they are attached to or how badly they were injured at birth) to others and even to yourself. I remember thinking when I was holding little infant baby Ellie, to enjoy this time because it would be the most “normal” it would ever get (total care is the norm for a 4 month old). And of course it wasn’t normal, but it could pass a little for normal and I clung to that for a while because the near, middle and far future were filled with scary possibilities and so many unknowns. I went from there to the point where I had to embrace the reality of disability publicly. In my experience, embracing it sooner than later is probably better for many reasons – the main one being you will be a better advocate and supporter of your child’s journey in a body that is not considered able and in a family that is considered different. I wrote this post about it that should have been titled “Coming Out at the New England Horticultural Show” because it was at that point I really decided to embrace “The Chair” and all that comes with it.

Jodi Reimer at
Reimer Reason describes this topic very well in her post Anonymity. Here is a quote, “Having a child with Down Syndrome means that your family will never again me anonymous. You will always kind of stand out in a crowd. I don't think it is necessarily a good or bad thing, it just is”.

David Hingsburger over at
Chewing the Fat is a great storyteller and this tale of an every day hero called Victory is an excellent account of the day-to-day battles people with disabilities face.

Lisa writes so many great posts on my topic this month that if you really want to know something about disability and family – just read her blog! She wrote this great post here about Defensive Parenting that she used for BADD. It’s a great post and a great topic as well as phrase – defensive parenting. For this blog carnival I also want to highlight this post titled, My double life about her experience of being happy and having to defend that happiness to those ignorant about disability. Here is a quote,
"But then there is the other life I lead, the defensive one. The public one. As much as I try to let the real me just shine on and become a public example of what is going on in our lives, I find it very difficult."
Lisa’s posts are long and thoughtful. She has a rare gift as a writer of being able to convey multiple angles of an issue. So get a cup of tea and then settle in as it is well worth the read.

Topic: Don’t speak for me
Astrid discusses families, independent living and the necessity of allowing for nonverbal people to have a voice in Thoughts on Support Attitudes and Disabled People Having a Voice. Here is a quote from this excellent post:
“Children and even adults with no functional communication skills are therefore presumed not to be able to have a voice of their own, so their parents speak for them. While I don’t expect all adults to go onto the mailing lists, it is quite different for a parent or carer to claim to speak for the person they’re caring for but actually to speak for themselves, than to adjust their communication to meet the person’s abilities and try to understand their wishes and claim to speak for themselves while having tried to best understand the person’s wants. It may take more effort from the supporter, but it enables the person to be a real person rather than a duty list - and I still hope parents and carers can appreciate that person.”

Autism Diva wrote a great post titled All’s well that ends oddly enough. In it there are many videos of autistic children, Autism Diva’s thoughts about them and therapies they are subjected to as well as cautions and concerns she has about caring for an Autistic child. I have been reading her blog for a about a year now. As a result, my whole view of Autism changed from not understanding and curious to understanding much more to the point of questioning if it isn’t just another manifestation of normal. See what you think.

In the first part of her
post for BADD, Laura discusses facing her school’s ignorance about Asperger Syndrome when she was 12. Here is a quote,
"Harassment won't make a child with Asperger syndrome understand social situations any more than beating a child with dyslexia will make them learn to read. It's not like it will reverse the brain damage.”

Stephen Kuusisto over at Planet for the Blind writes a very eloquent
book review of Reasonable People: a Memoir of Autism & Adoption, by Ralph James Savarese,
The Other Press. Here is quote from Stephen’s review:
"The sub-title of the book is as important to culture as the title itself: “On the meaning of family and the politics of neurological difference”. This timely book is about the Horatian life, “Life” written with a capital “L”. Accordingly it is about family and the life of the mind; about poetry and the fierce resistance to stereotypes of people with autism."
Ralph James Savarese also recently wrote a column in the LA Times titled, “You’re adopting who? A couple's decision to take in an autistic child draws callous reactions.?” that you can find

Topic: What it’s like
This topic includes accounts about what it is actually like living in some part of the disability world. The accounts are all well written and thoughtful pieces that will help those on the outside look in.

Funky Mango's Musings gives us some not so random drivel in They Deserve Better about the sadly lacking state of England’s services for critically ill children. Here is a quote:
“Barbara Gelb of the
Association of Children’s Hospices said:
'Children and their families are suffering as palliative care services across England cut back and close down. Even the emergency money given to English children’s hospices only covers a fifth of their running costs and runs out in 2009. We need urgent action now, with substantial new money in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review.'"

Badger gives us this piece titled: An itch ... that is always scratched, yet never eased on what it feels like to have Tourrette Syndrome. Beautifully written and descriptive – I will never see Tourrette’s the same way again after reading this:
“The feeling creeps up my spine, across my shoulders, I can feel it and I wonder what will happen next. I am never sure. Sometimes it's just a twitch, others a huge squawking outburst.”

Badger follows this with a frustrating, but all too common, tale of an encounter with a new specialist who's condescending and ignorant in this post titled
NHS Ignorance.

Eminism reports on "Ashley treatment" (growth attenuation, etc.) symposium @ University of Washington, May 16, 2007. The other day my blood ran cold when I saw in my site meter that a person found my blog via this search “Ashley treatment in Dublin”. Was that a parent looking to inflict this on their child? I will never know. I wish I had kept blogging about it and against it despite Trolls. To me it’s pretty clear – it’s wrong. Please don’t do this to your child. The ethical battle is still raging and Eminism gives an accounting of both sides of the argument, albeit from her perspective, from her notes taken at the conference.

Topic: Demystifying and Diversifying the Meaning of Perfection
Funky Mango gives us this post titled Too good to be able bodied about Oscar Pistorius. A double amputee Olympic caliber runner. It seems that he is faster than non amputee runners and there is a feeling that, that is unfair. What do you think?

Sam at
Useless Tree writes a Taoist commentary on a recent New York Times article on Down Syndrome and Prenatal Testing in Human Diversity. Here is a quote:
"Calling the parents "evangelists" strikes me as unfair. The larger issue, however, is well captured here. It seems to me that, as a society, we are more concerned with "preventing" disability (which, of course, is impossible. Even if some sorts of disabilities were eliminated completely through abortion, there are plenty of others that occur later in life...) than we are celebrating human diversity.”
Right on Sam! Great post.

Topic: Get a Clue! Tips for Family and Friends
Growing up with Disability writes a post that should be handed out as a primer for all temporarily able bodied souls on how to treat someone with disability (except maybe for wiping their face with the diaper) titled Reflections on self-love, self-worth, and Family.

Wheelchair Dancer writes about her frustrations with her family’s inability to accept her disability in Disability and Family IV.

Terry writes
One more thing I love about my son detailing his acceptance of disability in their family. I love the whole premise of Terry’s blog titled I see invisible people: News, views and reviews of the people and places overlooked by the world at large. Great stuff.

Emma, Wheelchair Princess, gives us these recollections from growing up in this post titled, Family Relationships. I have learned so many things from Emma that I keep in my mental, remember this for Ellie file that I am forever grateful. Here is a quote,
“And then there were the times when I would throw a fit because I wouldn’t be allowed to do something Ben or Sophie were and I was the oldest and it just wasn’t fair!! I think the worst was when I was 13 and had to have it explained to me that CP was forever.”

Dave Hingsburger over at
Chewing the Fat gives us Loud Prayers where he shares an email from a woman who has received some very unsupportive and in fact devastating comments from friends and family since her daughter disabled Cicely has been in a medical crisis. This post could also go under the prejudice topic. But I kept it here because if you have ever thought that a family or the world would be better off without your friend’s disabled kid, or my disabled kid – get a clue and say a prayer for Cicely!

Lost Clown over at Angry For a Reason describes her battle in getting her parents acceptance of her disability in this post titled They just won’t accept it.

Stephen Kuusisto from
Planet of the Blind writes about his family’s reaction to his blindness in Of Xanadu and Kubla Khan. Here is a quote,
"I have written two memoirs that are respectively and in part concerned with the subject of my family and the matter of disability. If you have read those books you know that my mother and father were deeply divided about my blindness when I was a boy. They knew the "facts" concerning my disability but they had little or no emotional language that might enable our family to talk about the daily realities that accompany visual impairment."

Catherine at
Charming BB writes about her own unfoldment in dealing with her family in Hello Goodbye. Here is a quote,
“I am about 9 months into BB's bone and endocrine disease so things appear more "normalized". It is finally like those times when you can't really remember when things weren't exactly like they are today (like when you move to a new place and after 2 weeks of time you can't remember what eating dinner at the old place was like). I can't really remember not loading up BB's wheels and coordinating his high-powered medical care.”
Her blog has loads of great information and even templates for parents facing the special education system. I am happy to have discovered her blog via this carnival.

Adventures in Daily Living defines the difference between encouragement versus support while discussing her newly disabled father in Musings on Encouragement v. Support . It’s an excellent distinction she is making.

In the second part of this post,
A Rest From Putting Out Fires, Retired Waif describes how eager family members are for her to get a parking placard--more eager than she is, as it turns out.

Cancer Diva gives us her insights into how her cancer has effected her relationships and state of mind in
Care for a bottle of WHINE with that? Yes, please.

Topic: Impact of Prejudice
Kristina Chew
, PhD and mother of a child with autism at
Autism Vox gives us Race, Class and Autism. It’s a great post with many links to other research on how race effects the speed of diagnosis and support for children with autism including the impact on their families.

Amanda, gives us this excellent analysis about communication and processing time but also about the ways people try to put her in the box that is similar to themselves versus seeing her for who she is in “Give. Me. Time”. I especially love this post because she describes perfectly the things that happen to Ellie when people are not sensitive to her communication differences. Though Ellie is not autistic, her brain got wired up differently. She has what an able bodied person would consider a HUGE delay in response time. For her it’s a motor planning issue as well as visual and auditory processing differences. Amanda goes into many of the things that people have done to her that shut down communication versus promoting it.

Jacqui gives us her thoughts on her son Moo’s disability in Prejudice. Here is a quote,
"Cause as much as you see the prejudice staring at you on the faces of others - sometimes that same prejudice is staring back at you as your reflection in the mirror."

Paula Apodaca over at
E. is for Epilepsy describes the prejudice she has experienced in “Autonomy, Agency, Me & E”. Here is a quote,
“Social disintegration often takes place once E. has been disclosed. But it also takes place when someone witnesses our seizure activity and is “creeped out” by it. Suddenly, an individual loses status within her family, her workplace, and her community. Where once her actions were admired, they become scrutinized; though her decisions were trusted, they are now suspected. She loses responsibility for important and unimportant things.”

Joel from
NT’s Are Weird gives us this post titled Respect and Dialog in the Autism World. Joel's countering some incorrect, harmful and disrespectful stereotypes about autistic adults.

Lady Bracknell gives us In which we name and shame where she discusses what happens when you find evidence in your sitemeter that someone on the city council is looking for loopholes in the law... Here is a quote,
“At 12.09 pm today, someone was directed to my blog as a result of having run the following search term through Google:"When is it ok to not employ a disabled person?"See? I told you you'd love it. Ah, but wait. I haven't finished yet. It gets better.”

Topic: A Day in the life: Parenting
Billie details a slice of her life as a mother of the beautiful Miss Eden and Miss Holland in What did you do all day.

Jacqui gives us this poignant post about the lack of access for her son Moo who has cerebral palsy in Screw Holland. I just want to buy my kid a bike.

Slow What Movement? Dad from, Kintropy In Action: parenting up hill – both ways, gives us a run down of the nightly routine and the few moments of precious Me-time. It is a well-written poignant slice of life.

Lauredhel writes
Another one to the social crime list: parenting while disabled at Hoyden About Town. Here is a quote,
"I poked around the web a little. It returned few pages, mostly from the UK, talking about childcare assessments for parents with disabilities. Almost all of the equipment links I followed led to equipment for parents with sensory disabilities, like baby monitors for Deaf parents. I did find this one off-the-shelf wheelchair baby carrier. Just one.

It seems most parents are left to either try to adapt themselves to clunky, inaccessible equipment, or to get someone to custom-make items like
this accessible cot. (How many adapted items meet written national safety standards, I wonder?)"

Rob Rummel writes often and well about his beautiful daughter Schuyler. In this post Secrets he gives some good advice for new parents as well as offering up his own approach to being a dad. I think, probably a pretty great dad.
Topic: Hope for Ellie's Future
Yes, exactly – Why Not College?!
College programs for young adults with developmental disabilities are starting up all over the US and Pathways at UCLA Extension is the blog of one such program, just starting this week. There are many great links and other posts on this blog to watch.

That's it for this Blog Carnival. You can find information about future carnivals here.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Talk about an interesting interpretation of a little word. I'm off to read more people's entries. Thank you for putting them together so coherently. :)

David said...

This is great Kathryn! Thanks so much.

Penny L. Richards said...

Kathryn, you really put a lot of work into this one--thank you! I'll be clicking through all day and all weekend, I suspect. Great work.

Funky Mango said...

Great carnival Kathryn - and thanks for the links :-) Looking forward to reading everyone else's contributions.

Connie said...

Beautifully done Kathryn. We look forward to reading through it all.

~ Connie and Steve

kristina said...

This carnival reads like a review essay in itself----thanks for all the links and for the mention of Autism Vox! Cheers to Ellie, she shines!

Suzanne said...

Thank you so much for all your time in doing this. I am hosting a Adoption Blog Posting Roundup and severely underestimated the time involved in writing and linking the summaries.

Anyway, thanks for your time and effort. I am learning a lot.



Anonymous said...

So well organized and enticing and comprehensive. Thanks for a wonderful carnival.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful job. Now I know what I'll be reading tonight. :)

Anonymous said...

You know what else? Reading that last bit about college programs reminded me of my brother. My brother was born in 1957 (or '58? forgive me, J) at 6 mos. weighing 2½ pounds. He didn't have CP, but there were lots of other things "wrong" with him, and his learning disabilities (including but not limited to severe dyslexia and eye/hand coordination issues) were not diagnosed until well into his public school career, which took place in a time when these things were not well understood and no accommodations existed.

He was scrawny and ill-behaved. His childhood, which both our older sister and I, his younger sister, sometimes made it a point to complicate even further, was difficult. School was a nightmare.

At some point he grew to six feet. At some point he joined the Air Force. At some point he got a wife, a kid, a master's degree, and now he's a grandfather a few times over.

In 1965, my parents would never in a million years have imagined any such future for him. Heck, except for the height, this all seemed impossible in 1976.

And look, I'm not pointing to my brother and saying Ellie or anyone else has to do all these things to be successful. I'm just telling this story to encourage people not to rule anything -- or anybody -- out. The future is big, and wide open. And that's just as it should be.

Miracles said...

Great post Kathryn, I always enjoy reading your views on this topic. How's the book going? When is the big release?

Kathryn said...

Thanks everyone. Just goes to show you moms of little ones, even disabled little ones, can still pull their weight. Tell that to my old boss.

I actually enjoyed putting it together and reading everyone's blogs - and am still reading.

Sara - thanks for sharing your brother's story. It just goes to show you that no one can predict hard and fast the outcome of someone's life based on their current status.

Miracles - Thanks. The book is not about disability or Ellie - it's about something else. Hopefully it will be out this summer. It is being edited right now by the publisher. When it is out I will certainly not be keeping it a secret. ;-)


Rural Felicity said...

What an excellent compilation. I haven't made it through them all yet, but the ones I have made it through have been very good. Thank you!

Rob at Kintropy said...

Thanks for a wonderful collection of observations, stories, and everything else. I've added seven or eight feeds to my Sage reader, so you and your contributors will be keeping me busy well after the Disability Blog Carnival moves on to another site. Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to highlight a law review article by Doug E. Jones, Domestic Violence Against Women With Disabilities: A Feminist Legal Theory Analysis (forthcoming, Florida A&M Law Review 2007). A draft of the paper is available at