Well, this is one of the most enormous pieces of disability fail I’ve seen in the mainstream media for quite a while; and it comes not from Andrew Bolt and friends, but from someone who calls herself a feminist.
I don’t give a rat’s arse if you think you’re a feminist or a progressive. If you’ve previously hosted a Down Under Feminists Carnival. If you’re a reader here.
If you mock a kid with a disability; if you call the sequelae of traumatic brain injury “pretending”; if you say that parents these days are no good because they won’t kiss a broken skull with blood pouring from the nose and ears as a “boo-boo” and tell the kid to suck it up and go outside to play; I will call you the fuck out.
Today’s AdelaideNow includes this steaming turd of a blog post, about a family awarded $850 000 compensation after their child fell from an unsafe bunk bed and suffered a skull fracture and traumatic brain injury: CLEMENTINE FORD: Bunk beds, broomsticks and bye byes.
Once upon a time, children climbed trees, promptly fell from them and were told to buckle up about it.
Sadly, those days are gone. Children now are bundled home from the hospital, wrapped in cotton wool and kept their for the rest of their formative years. Any scrape or injury that befalls them is elevated to a monumental level of CATASTROPHE! while their parents predictably freak out over the potential long lasting damage such a trauma will cause their little Hilda or Hugo. [...]
I fret for the future of our children. At the same time as being more honest about our emotions in modern society, we are teaching them to be precious about EVERYTHING. Not every injury, fall or scrape will cause long lasting emotional trauma, but we are teaching them to pretend it does and consequently believe it.
What we should be doing when things like this happen is give them a cuddle and then tell them to run outside and play to forget about it. I would bet you $850,000 that that’s exactly what they’ll do.
There’s a hefty dose of parent-shaming, which we’ve come to expect from Clementine’s AdelaideNow blog. But I’m more interested in the ableism aspects right now. Three minutes of research on Google News revealed that this child did not have a minor bruise followed by an emotional and psychological breakdown, as this article states. He was picked up by his parents the day after the sleepover with blood coming from his nose and ears, with a skull fracture, with a traumatic brain injury. The injury has caused neurological damage with longstanding sequelae, including cognitive damage and personality/behavioural changes. The boy has been unable to complete high school. That is all we know from the news; no doubt the court has access to a lot more medical details.
Acquired brain injury/Traumatic brain injury is one of the most common yet one of the most overlooked invisible disabilities. It is not ok to talk about people with TBI as though they’re just coddled little woosy-wookums who need to suck it up and stop faking their problems. And when you do that to a child? When you disrespect him and his family like that? NOT COOL. This is hate speech.
Clementine Ford/Audrey Apple, attitudes like yours are one of my major barriers in MY life. You may “fear for the future of our children”. So do I, but for very different reasons; should there be people like you around if my kid ever develops a disability, I fear for him.
And I fear for you. Because odds are you’re going to end up with a disability yourself one day, and then you’ll start finding out what it’s like to deal with people with these attitudes. Having this attitude yourself will hamper your adjustment to your disability, and may make you more prone to developing depression when you realise that you don’t have control over it, and you beat yourself up about that lack of control over and over and over again. Your magical thinking about preventing disability by pretending it isn’t happening might comfort you right now, but it’s exactly that: magical thinking.
It’s not too late to withdraw this article and start educating yourself. Start with the radical notion that people with disabilities are human. A real apology won’t fix the damage done, but if you also do the work, it might help you stop yourself from doing more damage in the future.
Remember that this could be you or your loved one tomorrow.
Read more about acquired brain injury here:
What Is Acquired Brain Injury? at the Brain Injury Association of NSW
Introduction to Traumatic Brain Injury at braininjury.org.au
Children and Acquired Brain Injury – Fact Sheet at braininjury.org.au
Traumatic brain injury at Wikipedia (good, well-referenced article)
Note that this thread is NOT about the mechanism of injury, the litigation, or the award. It is about this conception of people with invisible disabilities as “coddled” and “pretending”. This thread is a safe space for people with disabilities.