Disabilities in the times of Covid-19.
How has this quarantine influenced your daily life as a family member of an individual with disabilities? I feel that these uncertain times have brought out the best and sometimes the worst in people. It has exposed what connects us as humanity, but it has also shown us what divides us. For many of us, those of us who live with children or adults with disabilities, this Covid 19 stay-at-home has been nothing short of challenging.
In my case, I have had to come face to face with my fears. And yes, I was confronted with the very common fears of getting sick and dying, but I have also been confronted with the very real fear of losing all of the gains that I have worked so hard to secure for my brother, namely, to be accommodated, to be included, to be understood, and to be valued as a human being. My brother is an adult with multiple disabilities, who needs assistance for daily living activities, and needs help navigating what the rest of us may call mundane. He finds it impossible, for example, to wear a mask in public without avoiding the feeling that he is choking to death.
I have been in communication with my friends around the world, who are struggling to keep their children or adults with disabilities active, focused, and who are doing whatever they can to prevent the isolation that is so common in our population. While many parents all over the world are struggling to make distance-learning work for their young school age children, families of children and adults with disabilities are struggling to hold on to the gains that they had already attained in society.
On the other hand, it may be frustrating to see how quickly society reorganized to accommodate for this pandemic, as many of us shifted to working from home. Working from home had been repeatedly requested by our colleagues with disabilities around the world, and most times not granted, forcing them to have to adapt themselves to a world that was not created with their needs in mind. We are quickly seeing how the wheels have turned to accommodate society “at large.”
We also struggle because although we understand why these new guidelines were put in place, and how dangerous it could be not to follow them, we cannot avoid a feeling of déjà vu when it comes to safeguarding the rights of our loved ones. We are constantly caught in the middle of conversations, but we are not always able to raise our voices loud enough to be heard. I remember distinctly how the “gender-only” bathroom conversation was so personal to me. After my father passed away, my mother became my brother’s only caregiver. So, when my brother needed assistance in the bathroom, was she to do it in the ladies ‘room? Or in the men’s room? There is no conversation that does not include our population whether we recognize it or not.
So perhaps while we are sad about how much we miss our shows, going out for dinner, or travelling, all valid reasons to feel blue, let’s for one moment think of our fellow human beings with disabilities and about how we can make this place one that includes us all. Let’s remember that they, too, want to see shows, go to dinner, freely ambulate the streets, and travel.
Please let me know how you are feeling by dropping me a note below.