Whatever business or industry your family might be involved in (for us it is the wine industry), when one of your own has special needs, you do whatever you can for them. Disability in the family is not a curse, we have moved on from those primitive and barbaric views, it is actually an opportunity. It opens you up to experiences and feelings that you would never have had without it. When people say, it has enriched their lives, they are not speaking, merely sentimentally, it is true. Your heart is opened not only to your own child with disability, but to all people in similar circumstances.
Disability in the Family
Disability breaks you out of the selfish prison that locks up most people and their families in a ‘me and mine’ only attitude. Siblings who have a disabled brother or sister, become greater people in their own right. Their views are broadened and they empathise with a much wider section of the community. They have championed their sibling through the harsh playground of childhood and schools. They have seen beyond the vacuous world of celebrity and cosmetic beauty. Their eyes have been opened to the true nature of what it means to be a human being.
All of these qualities are not always easily come by. There is suffering to go through and to come out of. Wisdom and compassion are qualities that must be earned. Disability is not only challenging for the disabled; it affects family and carers too. We do not cry, poor me, however, we grin and bear it most of the time. We put our child first and foremost; handling a disability is their test. We provide as much support as we possibly can. There are times when it does seem like the whole world is against us.
At those times, we look for support where we can find it. Extended family and friends are called upon. If there are community support groups or networks of families with disabled members, we explore those possibilities as well. Because living with disability can be isolating sometimes, when that disability pushes your family to the fringes of society in terms of what we can and cannot do. Exclusion from entertainments and recreations, because they cannot accommodate those with a disability. Exhaustion from going it alone without support for too long. We all need some help at times. Disability in the family demands a lot of that family in the long run.