Contact details

As well as being a freelance writer I am also a qualified counsellor and I work for a low cost counselling service in Exeter and for the NHS Gender Clinic also in Exeter.

Simultaneously, I work as a Disability Member of the First Tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber sitting on disability benefit tribunals on an ad hoc basis.

As a writer I specialise in writing about disability and health.

My articles have been published in the Guardian, Times, OUCH! [BBC disability website], Disability Now, Broadcast, Lifestyle [Motability magazine], The Practising Midwife, 'Junior, Pregnancy & Baby', Writers' News, Able, Getting There [Transport for London magazine], Junior, Community Care, DPPi [Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood International]. I have also had articles commissioned by Daily Mail.

For more information about me and for examples of my writing please see below.

If you would like me to write an article for your publication, about any aspect of disability, please do get in touch:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Disability Balance... guilt, cold swimming pools and school PE

Dealing with disability is such a precarious thing sometimes.

Although I try my damnest to treat Archie [who has Kniest] and Ben [who doesn't] fairly I'm probably a bit more lenient with Archie. For example I'll ask Ben to put his clothes away and tidy his room but often I'll do both these things for Archie. I guess I'm just trying to make his more difficult life a bit easier? Perhaps it's a guilt thing.

Guilt does indeed rear its head every now and then. Take tomorrow - it's the annual opening of the [outdoor] swimming pool at Archie's school. At bedtime Archie said he didn't want to go to school tomorrow, which is most unlike him, he LOVES school.

When I asked why, it was because he didn't want to go in the pool because it was too cold. Ben chipped in and said if you move around enough it won't be cold [the sort of thing I'd say when they are in a pool...] but Archie said it doesn't make any difference and I believe him. I always remember being freezing in swimming pools when I was young, however much I swam I would still turn blue.

The thing is do I just hold up the disability card or not? It's not great for him just to be a spectator but if he can't do it then is it cruel to push it? What I do know is that the last thing I want is for Archie to dread school for such a reason.

I think another problem is that most of his classmates are probably swimming without armbands and the like now, and that will set him apart. Although Archie is having individual, weekly lessons he is a long way off being able to swim because he lacks the sheer strength to be able to do it.

Whilst in the old days it was easier to just play the disability card and sit on the sidelines, nowadays PE/Swimming is part of the national curriculum and they get graded in it, so of course Archie is currently graded a 'below average' D, well I never.

This may change as someone is in the process of redefining Archie's PE curriculum but generally I think it's a bit of a farce. Of course it's great for kids to do PE, get a bit of exercise etc but what's the point of marking them on it? Anyone know?