Here at Bright Futures we are currently reading: Disabled Children, A Legal Handbook by Steve Broach, Luke Clements and Janet Read.
It reminded us of some really important points which we wished to share with you.
The social model - A developed concept which has helped to re-shape the way ‘disability is understood"‘
Over many years, activists have created a ‘social model’ which makes a distinction between impairment and disability.
The book explains this to us, saying that impairment is used to refer to a person’s physical, sensory and intellectual characteristics or limitations
And instead, ‘disability’ is seen as the restriction, disadvantage or oppression experienced by those living with impairment.
The authors state that this ‘social model’ challenges the notion that a person’s condition is the sole reason for any restrictions that person faces. The book discusses how the social model argues that the common problems they encounter are due to the disabling impact of the physical, social, cultural, political and legal environment.
The authors then discuss that CONTEXT is so important in shaping people’s lives and opportunities; individual characteristics such as impairments are important, but the context in all its complexity has the power to increase or reduce disability that children and their families experience.
Could this be any more true? I love how simply the book puts it. And we all know this as families and professionals that work in the sector. But the notion that it is in fact the ‘child’s problem’, continues.
Our society creates a messy complex picture made up of ‘those looks’ given to you in the supermarket, posts of the perfect family sat at a perfect table in a perfect house on Instagram, that ‘telling off’ your child gets for not queuing up ‘nicely’ after the school bell. It is that stabbing feeling you get in your chest when you are told that your child is not ‘succeeding’.
We define ‘success’ as a society. We create those ‘looks’. We decide that what is ‘nice’ behaviour. Society ultimately CREATE barriers.
The book also discusses the impact of society, politics culture, environment etc on the stress and impact on the family. The family have mountains to climb, due to the barriers presented. And such limited help. The amount of stress and impact on society is also discussed. We see this first hand, you experience it first hand.
We are reminded by Steve Broach, Luke Clements and Janet Read of the importance of arrangements and services that enable children to flourish; circumstances which aim to create equal of opportunity between those who live with disability and those who do not.