VolunteersWritten by Charlene Borg – Parent Relations Manager – Inspire Foundation

You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view, until you climb into their skin and walk around in their shoes.

Inspire believes that climbing into someone’s shoes is a good take off point that helps us stop and think before; labelling, judging and taking any decisions. It is also a good standing point from where to challenge dominant discourses about disability, impairment and now also ‘disablism’.

Last month, Inspire invited parents for a day workshop titled; In your child’s shoes.

The event took place at the Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay who generously sponsored Inspire to make the event the success that it was. The workshop addressed the children’s perspective on how they through the challenges of communication and the impact that sensory difficulties may have on their child due to the diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder.

The experience extended to viewing this from a sensorial perspective, hence trying to help parents understand better what is going on within their child who has sensory difficulties and how as parents they can support to alleviate the sensory overload.

Moreover, from a psychological viewpoint, exploring the emotions of their children and why they react in certain ways. More importantly, how as parents they can support the emotional experience of their children; in a way that equips them with healthy coping strategies and at the same time allows them to express their emotional experience.

Finally, this special day also had the aim of bringing us all together for a very special purpose. A significant group of people with different life experiences, different cultures and ethnicities, educational backgrounds, gender, roles and what not. Together we were shaping a more refined understanding of what is believed it means to have autism and sensory difficulties. Together we provided a space for healing, a space for acceptance of ‘what is’ and the roller coaster of emotions that are brought about along the journey of parenthood and professionals working with individuals with disabilities.

social storiesKeeping in mind the theory of intersectionality, which is the belief that multiple parts of our identity, being our race, sexuality, gender etc… can never be understood in isolation. Therefore, who we are is summed up from the overlaps and intersections of the different aspects of our identity, which is also bound by context.

This is the same when looking at our relatives and friends who have a disability. One cannot view the disability on its own, but in the context of that individual’s identity. Amongst many, their gender, culture and lived experiences. In the same way, one cannot understand the person, without considering his/her disability and how it intersects with everything else to form the identity.

To quote Hill Collins (2000);

”…not only can we not reduce lived experiences into single categories, it also makes no sense to hold them separate when considering them…”  Hill Collins (2000)