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What Colour Is Your Medal?

September 10, 2012

The Paralympics have been incredible. Two weeks of inspirational performances that have been an absolute joy to watch. We now have a new roll call of sporting heroes, who happen to be disabled.

And today, we have seen some new phrases doing the rounds: “The 2012 Legacy”; “The Bright New Dawn For The Disabled”; “Barriers Have Been Broken”; “An Enlightened World”. Anthemic and motivating language. And all in capital letters.

My only unease of the past fortnight has been trying to square what I have been watching on TV with my day-to-day experience of caring for a disabled adult and being part of the disabled world. I’m sure like a lot of parents and carers over the two weeks, I’ve had the fleeting thought: “Shall I sign Steven up for some javelin sessions?” But it is a fleeting thought.

So, will there be a bright new dawn for the young man in the wheelchair, I see regularly, being pushed round the precinct for the fourth time this week by the dis-interested support worker? What will the legacy be for my friend’s daughter who is now confined to her home six days a week because her day centre has been closed down? Will my other single parent friend who gets three hours a fortnight respite from her 24/7 caring be able to break down some new barriers? And when I go to my next meeting with social services to discuss indicative budgets and behaviour management plans, will I be stepping into a new enlightened world? I hope so, because these things are just as important as the wonderful David Weir’s medal haul.

This week I will be hard pressed to take Steven for his shot putt training. Tomorrow, I have to meet the social worker for a FACE assessment. The present care package is working very well but I fear that after we’ve been fed into a RAS, I may not be able to afford the archery coaching. On Wednesday I have to attend the Housing Benefit appeal meeting, just to try to preserve a roof over out heads. Come Friday, I will be taking Steven for his six monthly blood test to make sure that his medication isn’t fucking up his organs. And I’ve still got to try to fit in a mental capacity assessment with the GP to ascertain whether he has the capacity to manage his own finances. Until the test is done, he cannot receive the damages he was awarded back in July. I was reading Ellie Simmonds’ weekly training diary yesterday; her week feels very different to mine.

Yesterday did have an inspirational moment. The previous Sunday, our local Mencap Pool reopened after its summer break. The couple who run the pool had gone away for the weekend to visit friends, who incidentally we met when we went to Yarmouth in July. When Steven saw the couple yesterday, he went up and said: “Did you enjoy your holiday in Yarmouth, Jean?” Now, that’s quite an awesome moment. It’s pretty rare for Steven to start up a conversation with an enquiry about the other person’s well-being.

For Steven, it was quite possibly a gold medal moment.



From → Social Care

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