Guest Post: Dear Mr Cameron…

Yesterday was a bad day for many of us for a variety of reasons, but this post will help you see why parents of disabled children fear their families will be especially affected by the people who will now run our country for the next five years.

Liz has been a friend  for over a decade, and blogs occasionally over at A Dash Of…. Her  eldest son Adam, has autism, ADHD and some learning difficulties but she knows that with the right support he has the ability to contribute to society in the future. But as you’ll see, a lot depends on the  attitude of  those in Westminster.

This is a brilliant piece of writing and as a parent of a daughter with ASD, I wanted to share it on my blog.

You can click through and read her post here and with her permission I’ve also reproduced in full below.

If this post resonates with you in any  way, please share it and maybe, just maybe, her intended recipient will read it.

‘Dear Mr Cameron

Last night I kissed my sleeping son when I went to bed knowing he would be able to vote in the next election and wondering, as he enters adulthood, what sort of world that will be. I woke up this morning and did something I have never done before the morning after an election. I cried, cried for my son’s future. You see, Mr Cameron, my son is autistic. He has ADHD and some learning difficulties and is vulnerable. I already lose too much sleep worrying about the prospects for his future adult life but this morning that sense of fear and dread intensified. Whilst friends were bemoaning the end of the NHS or the education system as we know it my fears were focused purely on that sleeping child and the life that may have to endure in the future. My son is not disabled enough that he will automatically be cared for by the state but neither is he able enough to be able to live truly independently. My son is quiet, he is passive and his life is driven be anxiety.  Will he be told he is fit for work because he can walk 100 metres and pick up 4 litres of milk? Will he be deemed ‘not disabled’ enough for PIP benefits or enhanced social care because an assessor has little understanding of autism or the impact of mental health difficulties? Will your collective horror at the prospect of a minority of ‘lazy scroungers’ claiming benefits mean he, and the other deserving vulnerable, will be unfairly penalised by the draconian measures that have been enforced. I am ashamed to live in a society where a pledge to reduce the welfare budget by £12billion is lauded yet you remain surprisingly quiet on your plans to tackle the scroungers at the other end of economic scale. The welfare state was created to help those at time of need and whilst our hope is for our son to be able to work and support himself, I fear that should his need increase, he will be simply abandoned.

 

Will there be an NHS service in five years time or will health care be reduced to a series of tenders where services are stripped to the bare bone and profit is put above patient care? Will you still be feeding us the line that no front line services will be cut? Will there be an adult autism or decent quality mental health service that my son can access in adulthood? The current state of mental health services is abysmal and any further erosion of this will lead to services becoming untenable.

 

Mr Cameron, what ever happened to your vision of a ‘big society’? Will all the voluntary groups and organisations who do so much to make the lives of the vulnerable that little bit easier still exist? Only yesterday I received an email saying that funding had been pulled from a local football group for disabled teenagers. Do you have any idea of the importance of such groups and schemes? So many disabled children cannot access mainstream activities and these give them opportunities that are otherwise denied to them due to their disabilities. Opportunities to socialise, to make friends, to improve their sense of wellbeing and emotional health, to be physically active, to develop new skills, to develop an interest or passion that they can take into adult life and help integrate them into society.

 

I will do all I can to fight for and protect my child and to equip him as best I can to deal with adult life. However his disability is life long, it is invisible and often poorly understood. I will not always be here to watch over him and I have utterly no confidence that the society we are building will care for my child, and others like him, as he reaches maturity.  I weep for the life I fear he may lead when I am no longer here. I am mindful of Gandhi’s famous quote ‘The True Measure of Any Society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members’ and wonder how that applies to you, Mr Cameron and the choices you will make?  I pray that my tears are unfounded and that compassion returns to the heart of this government. You speak of a promise of a good life and a better future today. When my son goes to the ballot box in five years will you have made good on this assurance to the most vulnerable in society? Can you promise me that, Mr Cameron? That will be my judgment of you.’

London_Parliament_2007-1

Guest Post: Hell On The M25

My Guest Poster today is Cressida Downing.

Cressida is an Editorial Consultant,  as well as a mum of two, and a self-proclaimed follower of the Frequent Gin school of parenting. She runs her own consultancy over at The Book Analyst and also blogs for Writers and Artists regularly, but sometimes gets the urge to do a bit of ‘mummy blogging’ and when she does, I’m only too happy to have her guest post for me!

I’m not a confident driver.  I didn’t learn to drive until I was in my twenties (I spent a lot of time in London – there was no need) and although I tend to be fairly happy to drive for about an hour or so, more than that makes me anxious.

The first day of the half term the kids and I were invited to a birthday party.  The mother of the birthday boy is an old friend of mine and we’d been trying to arrange to see each other for over a year.  They live in Kingston Upon Thames and we’re just north of Cambridge.  Google maps told me it would be about 2 hours.  I thought ‘how hard can that be?’ and we set off.

We left home at 10am (party started at 12.30) with one child in football kit (it was a football party), a few snacks, and a nicely wrapped copy of Oliver Twist for the birthday boy.

I didn’t take a sat nav.  They don’t agree with me so I figured the maps and the ten year old navigator would do the trick.  We bombed down the M11 listening to Now 84.  Then we hit the M25.  There were ‘delays’.  For ‘delays’ read sitting in stationary traffic that crawls every five mins or so.

We had to go 14 junctions.  There were ‘delays’ for 4.  We would get through this, it would be fine.  Then we hit the next ‘delays’.  These ones were promised (thanks to the flashing signs) all the way up to our junction.

We texted our party host.  ‘We’re probably going to be late’.  ‘Turn around,’ she urged.  I don’t know why we didn’t…

Then the boy needed the loo.  We were nowhere near services or even the hard shoulder – marooned four lanes across, but with the traffic moving just enough to stop us being able to get out.  I briefly considered having him open the back door and do a ‘wee-past’ on the central reservation as we crawled along but we decided to test the ‘you can wee in a bottle’ theory.  He could – and did.

By the time we got to our junction, the party had ended.  I still hoped we could help with the clearing up perhaps and catch up with my friend then.  Also I didn’t want our trip to be wasted.

The trouble was that the road we were now on – off the bottom of the M3 – had come to a complete standstill.  We were at least ten miles away.  We texted again. ‘Give up,’ she texted back.  We had no idea how long we’d be in this new queue so we did.

By this time we were hungry and very very fed up.  Small boy burst into floods of tears, he’d been this close to a football party and it had all gone poof.  We turned around in the queue and stopped at a pub that was still serving food.  It was just after 3 and we’d been driving for five hours.

We ate, drank, used the toilets, played hide and seek with the child in the pub, and stretched a bit.  The only saving grace about the day was that all the delays had been on ‘our’ side of the M25.  Going home should be a lot quicker.

Back onto the M25.  We stopped at the next services for food and drink bribes (and another loo stop).  By this time we’d gone through Now 84 several times, tried out a variety of radio stations, played about 100 games of Who Am I, and about 20 games of I Spy (‘something with ‘A’’ – ‘Atoms’!).

The nasty flashing signs were warning that the motorway was closed a few junctions around – but that was after our M11 junction so we should be fine.  About two miles before our M11 junction, it all just stopped.  Not crawling along, not slow traffic – absolute stop.

I found a travel report on the radio – they’d shut the M25 to allow an air ambulance to land.  We’d gone though our snacks and drinks, we’d run out of entertainment – and it turned out we were stuck there for another 2 hours.

Time to check emergency supplies.  I had a CD of poetry, two warm towels that could act as blankets, a box of Capri suns that were out of date, and a very old packet of jaffa cakes.

We spent the next two hours wrapped in towels, playing a ‘guess the song on Now 84’ game – if the boy and I lost, the girl got to throw a jaffa cake on the verge.  We also cracked open the Dickens and read the first two chapters of Oliver Twist.

We also started thinking about what we needed in a car kit.  Blankets (not towels), bottles of water – which double as possible pee containers, snacks that don’t melt and don’t go off, some books on CD that everyone likes, and some self-heating coffee.

We finally got home at 9pm, 11 hours after we started.  At least the car hadn’t broken down and we weren’t in an accident.  The kids are 8 and 10, so were a lot more compliant than if they’d been younger.  It could have been a lot worse.

What do you suggest for a car emergency kit?

M25 traffic