A perspective on the world of disability from a mother and an educator. Follow my blog!

Friday, 6 September 2013


Though Simon and Garfunkel would have us believe we can be an island, or a rock, it simply isn't true. It's even less true for those living a minority or marginalised life. In some way or other, we all live with comorbidity, that is two or more diagnoses along side each other. I'm being quite liberal here and using the medical term with a bit of poetic licence.

In my case, we have a literal comorbidity of Down syndrome and Graves' disease. We need to keep in mind which is responsible for the symptoms that impact daily. Metaphorically though, we have comorbidity with her youth, no family in town to support us and limited medical/therapy services in our town. We are not an island, isolated from the people and services around us. We have many blessings included in our medical and social diagnosis, wonderful friends, supportive school and understanding employers. All of these things contribute to the degree of marginalisation we experience.More of one, less of another and it can drastically alter the path we walk.

I recently, and randomly met a mother who was beginning her journey through getting a diagnosis for her young son. It was nice to be able to offer some comfort as she went through the initial stages of grief and then took up the torch to fight for her boy. While her son didn't end up with a dual medical diagnosis, she experienced comorbidity with no support, friends or family in town. Even her husband worked away. She was having a tough time with her son's kindy teacher.

Her story is an example of how we all bring our own prior experience/baggage to this wonderful journey of disability. Each of us travels a unique path. Even members of the same family will experience their own comorbidity. How my daughter's experience their sister's disability will be very different to how I experience it. My brother is a wonderful advocate in the public sector, though his experience of disability of the ground floor is limited. I'm sure many people think that because I'm a Special Needs Coordinator that I have most, if not all, the answers for my daughter. Truth is, I still grieve, I worry, but I rejoice too. She did her first class performance this week. Spider in the Shower will be off to West End I'm sure! (On a side note while Imogen may not be the best reader in the class, she could easily have been the understudy for all the kids in the class as she knew EVERYONE'S lines!). Ultimately we are neither islands or rocks, but all threads of this social fabric.

With the 2013 Australian election looming tomorrow, we all have a chance to impact on our own personal comorbidity. I won't be using this forum to sway you to vote one way or another. Your vote needs to represent you and your circumstance. It is a chance for us to perhaps lessen the metaphorical social comorbities we live with, and perhaps improve the medical comorbidities as well. Make it count.

If the politicians can post selfies, I can add one of Imogen's MANY selfies!

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