Establishing Effective Terminology to Minimise Barriers

As previously mentioned, I am very active on social media, Twitter in particularly- as I find this a very useful tool to connect with other disabled people and occupational therapists not just across the UK but worldwide. Not only this, social media platforms such as Twitter are useful to educate people about disability, and how to approach a disabled person. In which I think is really useful and as a disabled individual in higher education, I find this really important as it’s amazing how many people have called me ‘inspiring’ just because I’m at university which to me is not inspiring because that’s what a lot of people my age do. However, I’m also aware that the people who call me inspiring are only saying this with a kind heart and therefore need educating in a nice way rather than been made to feel belittled…

Now that I’m older and have a better understanding of my disability, I am noticing more and more that some comments towards my disability come from a very uneducated view. One comment that sticks in my mind which I often got as a teenager was “You’re getting much better at walking now” which came from people who saw me in my wheelchair most of the time. Obviously, I wasn’t getting better at walking and will never get better at walking. I used to always thank people when they said this with part of me wishing I should have said “Oh no, my legs just aren’t as tight today.’’ Which looking back now I wish I did say, because how will people know unless they’re educated? But the other part of me was saying just be polite this comment has come from a kind place. Which leaves me with a question… How do we educate people on how to treat disabled people in the correct way?

It’s 2020 if you’re an individual that hasn’t come across a person with a disability then you’ve probably been living under a rock; the reality is some people haven’t and therefore don’t know how to treat disabled people. Yes, treat us like ordinary people that’s a given but I don’t agree with calling a person ableist if they think they’re saying the right thing… Let’s go with the classic example “I don’t see you as disabled”- when people say this to me I’d be lying if I said it didn’t annoy me a little because I am disabled and if you don’t see that you’re looking passed a big part of me. However, on the other hand, I know that when people say this it’s coming from a good place it may not be the right place but it’s still a good place. Yes, these people need to be educated about this, but I don’t think writing this on social media with the hashtag ableist is the right way forward either. I bet, if the majority of the people who make these comments knew that it didn’t go down the way that they intended it to they’d be mortified I know I would be if I made an uneducated backhanded compliment about someone else’s disability. That’s why I don’t think shaming them on social media is the best way to go around it, even if names aren’t mentioned. Say something about it and question them, by all means, but when it’s unintentional, shaming them and getting on your high horse isn’t going to gain their respect.

I know more than anyone what it’s like when you’re making small talk with the taxi driver and you can literally hear the eggshells they’re stepping on because they’re scared to bring up the disability or say something wrong. But, I’d rather they say something wrong so that I can educate them rather than them not speaking because otherwise how are people going to learn? People learn from mistakes and without addressing these comments people will never learn. However, why create a bigger gap by making them feel disrespected? They’re still valued members of society.

If I made a comment and someone had taken this the wrong way, I’d want to respectfully be told why. My comment may not have come from the right place, but I can grantee that it will have come with good intentions and therefore I wouldn’t want to be treated with disrespect. My role as a disabled activist is to educate people, but not only this it’s to minimise the divide between disabled and abled bodied people not to maximise it, but with the wrong attitude towards these comments it could easily turn that way.

Therefore, a big part of this is establishing the correct terminology and phrases, instead of it being “I don’t see you as disabled” it could be…. “I see you for you” which is an ordinary girl who is totally happy with living her disabled lifestyle.

Or…
“I see you as disabled and…” Margaret Spencer, @margaretOT360

“I just see you as a person just like anyone else.” Craig Evans @dyspraxicot

“I acknowledge your disability, but it doesn’t define who you are.” Francesca Hughes @Franariella

“Do you mind if I ask how your disability affects you?” Natalie Williams @Natalie_MLW

The cover photo on this blog has been picked as unfortunately on that night the correct terminology wasn’t used!

With establishing this correct terminology people can still be educated but in a less belittling way. When some says “I don’t see you as disabled” yes, I want to ask why but I don’t feel belittled because I know that wasn’t their intentions. So why do they deserve to feel belittled? They deserved to be educated respectfully and if I ever did feel belittled, I would tell them why in a respectful way and make them understand before coming to the judgement that their ableist.

A lot of attitudes around disability need to change: the attitudes of people who are just dam right ableist, the attitudes of those that feel sorry for the disabled but also the attitudes of people who think that someone’s sympathy is them being ableist. I’m not saying that these sympathy comments don’t get annoying because they do; that’s why it’s called being sympathetic and not being empathetic. During my next placement, in the up and coming weeks, I will be working on changing people’s attitudes towards disability from a service user, students and a healthcare professional’s perspective. But which one will I find is the most suitable? The answer is probably going to be all 3, but until I complete this placement and have reflected, I don’t know.

Change is good, and I’m aware that even in 2020 we still need to change people’s uneducated or naive attitudes regarding disability. But treat people how you want to be treated, right?

Thank you for reading,

Georgia
@georgiavine4213
@GeorgiaVineOT

A Year of Not So Terrible Palsy

Happy New Year and happy 1st birthday to Not So Terrible Palsy! I cannot believe that I have been blogging for a year and what an amazing year it’s been, I for one did not think that a year on people would still be reading my blog I’m incredibly thankful. So, I thought I would reflect on 2019 and discuss how much of an impact it has had on my future career…

At the start of the year I knew that I wanted to do more with my disability which is why I started my blog, but I did not think that 2019 would be as influential as it has on me. During 2019 I learnt a lot about myself, my disability and of course occupational therapy and in which my views on these three things have all changed as the link is becoming more apparent making me think more about how I want my future to look like. As mentioned one thing that has changed this year is how I see myself as a disabled individual and I feel like during 2019 I realised that not only is my disability a strength but actually my disability is the best part of me and this is all thanks to CP Teens UK. In January 2019 I went to my first social event with CP Teens and it made me realise just how much I’ve been missing out on. I’ve always been a bit hesitant about going to events with other disabled people as when I was younger, I didn’t want to be seen as ‘disabled’. Which I know seems stupid now; that’s how I saw it! However, I had a really great time at bowling and after this event, I was determined not to miss out again.

In February I met Lost Voice Guy at one of his incredible show! It was a brilliant moment for me because when explaining who I was to Lee he replied “I know who you are” this was really important to me as a few weeks before this Lee had also commented on my blog saying that he loved the name and couldn’t wait to read more. At the time my blog had only been around for a month so to get the response was something special.

February was also great for another reason as Tommy was born! Tommy has taught our family so much in which I have mentioned in my previous blogs No Longer Being the Only Disabled Member of the Family and Down’s Syndrome Awareness Month 2019. I can’t believe Tommy’s not even been in our lives for a year, it’s crazy! Tommy, we love you so much, and hats off to Tommy’s Mummy, Amanda for being a great advocate for Down’s Syndrome awareness during 2019 I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for you.

March, (in case you haven’t realised we’re going to be here a while). For Cerebral Palsy awareness month in 2019, I went all out with 5 posts in a month- I loved it. The challenges Ruby’s Makeup, Cutting the Grass, Attempting to Play Darts and Cooking Dinner were so great I enjoyed doing them (and dragging my whole family into it). They all went down really well I even received messages from people saying how much they loved them and couldn’t wait to read another challenge the following week- I was really taken back by the response I received from these challenges! I hope to bring them back soon!

From the end of March to the beginning of May I learnt a lot about my personal and professional development as I undertook my first occupational therapy placement in paediatrics. I absolutely loved this first placement and was very thankful for the opportunities I got given through this placement, I knew right from the start that I wanted to have a paediatric placement so I feel very lucky that this was my first placement and could see myself working in paediatrics in the future! During my time on placement, I delivered my first ever presentation about my blog and what an amazing experience it was I am truly thankful for this opportunity as without this I wouldn’t have found out about other opportunities such as the CountMeIn conference in June 2020. In which I got asked to be a keynote speaker, I am truly honoured and humbled to have been asked I am very much looking forward to going to this incredible event.

This placement will always be significant to me as my response from my presentation made me realise where I want my career to be heading, in which I discuss in my blog and Why I Study Occupational Therapy. So, thank you to all those who made this placement so significant and I look forward to working with you in 2020!

But of course, May doesn’t end there… I can’t forget about driving!

Yes, we all know because I bored you all to death about it in a super long blog post but in May I finally got my car! Getting my car has to be the highlight of the year as I’d been waiting so long and even now when I’m having driving lessons I’m still in disbelief that I’m where I am.

Looking back May was probably my favourite month of the year, from having the best time on placement to getting my car and of course, let’s not forget about the sponsored wobble with CP Teens…

At the sponsored wobble in May, I brought quite a big crew and we all loved it so much it was one of the best days of the year, my family love this charity so much and will go to great lengths to help raise money for it as long as we can.

Sticking with CP Teens at the end of May I got asked to be an ambassador in which I whole-heartedly said yes to and had my first blog post for them published in June! This has got to be one of my best achievements this year I have been wanting to become an ambassador for CP Teens for a while and I did not think that I would become one in 2019. But here we are 6 months in, and I’m absolutely loving it! CP Teens has been a big part of my life this year and I honestly believe that they have helped me to become the person I am today who isn’t fazed by her disability in the slightest.

In July I enjoyed some time off to really work on Not So Terrible Palsy- due to being a full-time student I can’t dedicate as much time to my blog as I would like so it was nice to have the time to work on it and to finally get it to the way I wanted it to look. As a new blogger, this was my opportunity to get my name out there and so I did and had a story featured on The Mighty and also had a few of my blogs published on The Occupational Therapy Hub.

However, over the summer I did enjoy some time to myself! In August I went on holiday and took my new electric wheelchair with me for the first time which was an experience that I was very nervous about; it turned out to be great, I felt so much more independent- no looking back now, my electric wheelchair best be prepared to face more adventures. As well as catching up with friends over the summer I FINALLY had the pleasure of seeing my favourite artist Ed Sheeran, and what a night this was. I still can’t believe it’s happened I don’t want to sound corny, but it really was a dream come true!

As you can tell I like to be busy, so when September came around and it was time to go back to university, I was so ready!!! I love being back at uni- the course, the people just everything about it. I always get scared that I’ve not picked the right course and that I’m going to fall out with it but being back at university brings back all the warm feelings towards occupational therapy and I know that this is the perfect course for me. I have to thank university for being so supportive of my needs which I mentioned in my blog about Reflecting on My First Year at University. University is also very supportive of my blog and commitments outside of university and makes sure I have everything in place to get this balance right and I am very thankful for this. In fact, in 2020 I have a very exciting placement coming up in which I get to use NSTP as part of it- all will be revealed in February.

October, which means my favourite day of the year! World CP Day!!! I really do love this day so much and this year I decided to do another challenge in which I caught the bus in my wheelchair. Not only this the word was out, I could also finally tell everyone that I was going to be a keynote speaker I was so excited, I always wanted to announce this on World CP day so when I found out that I could I was so happy- perfect timing!

At the end of October through to mid-December, I was on my second occupational therapy placement, this was challenging but such a great experience, I really did learn a lot yet again about my personal and professional development as mentioned in my blog about Transitioning from a Service User to a Healthcare Professional. I’m so lucky to have had two wonderful placement experiences this year!

Of course, let’s not forget about one of the best nights of the year the CP Teens annual ball in November! What an incredible night it was, I will certainly be returning next year!

Once bottle green, always bottle green!

Christmas has been great, and I really have ended the year on a high note with the most beautiful family wedding congratulations Mr and Mrs Shaw!

So 2019…

31 posts on Not So Terrible Palsy.
Had my driving story featured on The Mighty.
Had 2 blogs featured on The Occupational Therapy Hub.
Became an ambassador and have written 4 blogs for CP Teens UK.
Completed 2 placements.
Got asked to be a keynote speaker!

What a year it’s been thank you for all your support I couldn’t have achieved any of this without it. I’m still taken back every time someone leaves a positive comment on my blog and says that they enjoy reading my content. So, as much as this blog is to say thank you for your support it’s also to say thank you for believing in me!

THANK YOU! I can’t wait for what is to come in 2020!

Georgia x
@georgiavine4213
@GeorgiaVineOT