Category Archives for "Disability"

“How do you have sex?”..and other questions to avoid

I read an article today that made me think about my own experiences.  The article, 9 things you should never say to a wheelchair user, had some real classics in it.  I should say that it’s not often that people will comment directly about my disability, but when they do it is usually quite memorable.

I’m often asked what is the right ‘etiquette’ around a disabled person.  For me, it boils down to four simple things:

  1. If you wouldn’t ask a friend it, then it’s probably best not to
  2. If you wouldn’t like or expect to be asked it yourself in passing then don’t
  3. Treat others as you’d wish to be treated yourself
  4. Don’t be scared around disabled people

The eagle-eyed (no political puns today, promise) reader will note that I said ‘in passing’ above.  Of course, if invited somewhere to talk about disability specifically then I’d discuss it.  In fact, i’d generally encourage openness about disability and will generally answer most questions, in passing or otherwise.

However, there is a time and a place!! 🙂  I vividly remember one day when I was in Sheffield and a religious person said he wanted me to confess my sins and be cured.  Now I know my way around a bible, so an animated debate around his right to a) make that statement, and b) know that I had sinned, followed.  I’m normally quite relaxed, but this guy happened to catch me on a bad day (we all have them!) so got very short shrift.

If you want to be funny, try stand up comedy.  If you want to become more informed, start a conversation.

The other question I get asked is: what my sex life is like.  Now that I am married to my lovely wife I get to have a bit of less fun with this one(when I was single my responses used to involve a subtle invitation to find out more!).  But yes, people still ask, and yes, it’s still great, thanks!! Quite where that question sits on the 4 guidelines above I’m not sure.

I’d welcome more thought and engagement around disability.  I used to be scared of it myself but then meeting my wife Fran (who is herself disabled) gave me a bit more confidence to be ok in my own skin. Don’t be scared around disability, just ask genuine questions out of a desire to know more about those who are in the world with you.  Beyond what i’ve said above, there really are few right or wrongs.

Making the odd ‘witty’ remark in passing isn’t the way to go about it though.  Particularly if humour is borne out of fear, or worse still i. If you want to be funny, try stand up comedy.  If you want to genuinely become more informed, then start a conversation.


2 Feeling broody. And daunted! 

Having a child. Daunting and scary at the best of times. Throw in both parents having a disability and the plot thickens. Whilst away, I like to use the time to reflect on my life, the things in it and how they are going. Last night, I was struck by a thought, which I expressed to Fran:

I thought about going to the cricket and the football as dad has with me. I want someone to go with. I may not know everything but I’ve got some good stuff to pass on and want to do so

It’s something we’ve contemplated for a while. My sister gave birth to my brilliant little niece last year and it’s been a privilege to be a part of the joy, richness and fun that she has bought into our lives.

I’m told that having your first born is one heck of a mission though. For us it would be that and then some. We’d need full time support for the first few months, and a well oiled operation to see us through.

Writing this, I’m also aware that some people might question our practical abilities as parents and even the fairness of bringing a little one into the world. I get that, and see why people would but I would respectfully disagree. There is no doubt in my mind that we can provide a safe, happy and healthy environment.

All of that isn’t to say things aren’t daunting though. I’ve always said that being a parent is the most important thing that I’d ever do if the opportunity ever arose. We’re also lucky to be in a position to be parents though, all things being well.

We have a social services review coming up and it’s one of the things we intend to discuss. Doubtless social services will take a keen interest in our plans. We’ll be closely assessed. There is that to be ready for too. 

What I do know too is that we’re resilient and resourceful. We’ll also be absolutely surefooted in our decisions, and supported by a wonderful family and friends. 

We shall see. For now, I’m just feeling broody and daunted!!:)

Accessible housing and the difference it makes 

About 8 months ago, life wasn’t great. In our house, things were getting increasingly hard. Fran was off her feet and couldn’t get upstairs so was confined to the lounge. The rest of the house inaccessible.

We needed to move. We needed a bungalow. We were fortunate to be able to put our house on the market and that the offers came rolling in swiftly. Now just to find that bungalow.  However, they were in all too short a supply where we lived. We were going to need to move away.  It was really hard to leave an area we knew well, with a local support system, not to mention the house we had our post wedding celebration in, but needs must.

It was really hard to leave an area we knew well, with a local support system, not to mention the house we had our post wedding celebration in, but needs must.

As we’re both able to drive, moving further afield was an option. Widening our search, we spotted one bungalow in a more rural area. I was hesitating as it was quite remote, but there weren’t many bungalows to choose from. Lots of those that we did see also needed a lot of work doing to them. Lots just didn’t suit us at all as people with modern taste and an aversion to 60’s decor in keeping with the age of former owners!  I don’t imagine what we’d have done had we not been able to drive.

So we head to the bungalow. Fran, using her chair, literally had to crawl inside as there was no ramp of any sort. Once there though, the house worked and was ready to move into. We knew we needed to move quickly to get this rare gem and within minutes we’d put an offer in. Scary but true.  One of the biggest (and certainly most expensive!) judgement calls we’d ever make having to be made in what felt like a split second.

Within minutes, we had to decide whether to put an offer in to secure a rare suitable bungalow for us…one of the biggest calls we’d ever make made in a split second

Fast forward six months, and our accessible house has immeasurably improved our lives. We can actually use all of the house and feel liberated, as opposed to imprisoned by it.  I’d recommend living in a bungalow to anyone and think it’s a real shame there is such a shortage of them.  Moving has been a complete mission, and we’re really grateful for the support of Fran’s PA’s, who were vital in making it possible.

Every day Fran and I are thankful for the pleasure an accessible home (in every sense of the word!) brings and think everyone should have the opportunity to experience it.

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