Breaking down barriers

Writing my book Cerebral Palsy: A Story ‘Finding the Calm after the Storm’ breaks down barriers not just around disability, but also in wider life. Sensitively written, it charts my journey page by page, breaking down barriers as I go.

Having struggled throughout my life to find a place living with a disability I didn’t know I had, I didn’t realise how stigmatised my life had become. Although things weren’t said, it became obvious from an early age, living with something and it being ignored meant I would continue to face stigma.

Not expecting to do well, I was stigmatised because I was left to cope and adjust with no help. Where schools could and should have followed things through, they abandoned the idea and I was left to fend for myself.

It is important we teach children how to break down barriers, because that’s where stigmas start. Preparing children for the outside world used to be more straightforward. If schools were delivering on academic goals and pupils left with an understanding of what was right or wrong, we would consider that a job well done. Fast-forward to 2020.

Through necessity, schools are becoming more responsible for students in a far wider sense. When it comes to mental health, they have moved from raising awareness to proactively tackling mental health and in doing so, are empowering the next generation to talk about mental illness.

But schools need support if they are to cope and deal with mental health issues, to ensure they can work within their area of expertise. With the right guidance and support, schools and school staff are well placed to make a difference, but we must all work together.

Hindsight on what we deal with isn’t always a good thing, but on another level, it can bring about understanding when we look back. Through new understanding, it is a possibility that we look back on those times fondly, primarily because we understand where we’ve gone wrong.

Breaking down barriers is important if we are to improve communication between people. We must actively break down the barriers between health and education, and work together to find a way forward, putting children’s interests first.


9 Jan, 2020

6 thoughts on “Breaking down barriers

  1. Yes, there are many barriers that I need to overcome that make it very difficult to know where to even begin.

    My fears, doubts and insecurities have kept me paralysed to the point of not being able to do anything, let alone live anything even close to a normal life.

    My parents pretty much threw us to the wolves and expected us to know how to survive, but they forgot to provide us with the skills that most kids need in order to do so.

    It would be fantastic to break down at least some of those barriers that keep people from living their lives because of stigmas. I know all too well what that is like.

    You have been such a great power of example to me about what can really be accomplished and for that I will be forever grateful.

    1. Thanks Randy. I understand when you say, ‘my fears, doubts and insecurities have kept me paralysed to the point of not being able to do anything,’ – for many years I stagnated, I had my thoughts as company.

      You have come through so much. You know so much more now. Ignore the stigmas. It is important to try to get past those. It’s what society and the world should be advocating.

      We’re all the same underneath, there should be no barriers to break.

  2. Nothing seems to overwhelm your capacity to go full-strength and break down barriers along the way. It’s simply in your DNA.

    If only I could persuade myself to break down barriers the way you do.

    1. Thanks Tim. I don’t believe I am special in any particular way truth be told.

      I needed to survive. I have done what I have done out of necessity, needing to know what was wrong with me is my fundamental right. All I wanted to know was what was wrong with me.

      I never told anyone, but that thought was constantly there. I was angry. I was hurting, but I never gave up on hope. It was only when my mum was terminally ill that my life changed. I was 46.

      Her telling me my birth was difficult, changed the course my life would eventually go in.

  3. Unless and until schools emphasise important skills to learn, include co-operation, self-confidence, responsibility, independence, empathy, and communication instead of primarily focussing on academic results, then our schooling will fail our children.

    Ensuring good mental health is a fundamental part of preparing children for the rest of their lives.

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