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:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Raising children fairly/equally

I was momentarily put out recently when a relative suggested that I didn't treat my children equally - one is disabled, the other is non-disabled.

Fortunately I am confident enough to know that in fact I spend a lot of time and energy making sure that I do indeed treat them as fairly and equally as I can, being more than aware that it might be possible to favour one over the other.

It really brought it home how wrong an 'outsider's' [even if they are a relative] perspective can be when it comes to understanding what a hugely difficult job bringing up a disabled child is.

Here are some of the issues we have to deal with [most on a daily basis]:

- finding a balance when it comes to dealing with 'normal' behaviours eg rough and tumble play. Whilst we don't want to deprive either child of this there has to be a line when one child [most likely the disabled one] is more likely to get hurt.

- dealing with the psychological effects of having a disability eg the child might be upset that they can't keep up with their peers, they might feel left out in the playground, they might feel angry with themselves for not being able to do something or for falling over.

- dealing with the psychological effects of being the 'non-disabled' one eg resentment that we're not doing something because of the disabled sibling.

- grappling with the effects of an imbalance in height, strength, mobility and ability between the two children.

I once read the term 'juggling with chainsaws', sometimes it feels like that's exactly what I am doing, and I worry that getting it wrong could potentially have long term effects on both children's wellbeing, attitudes and personality. That responsibility is stressful to say the least.

Because it's such a difficult job I have an enormous amount of respect for fellow parents up and down the country who, unseen and unpraised, are doing this job on a daily basis only they know what it's really like.