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.’