The above is a story covered by the very excellent Moncrieff Programme on Newstalk Radio and while it seems pretty clear that this individual, as the Judge decided, was guilty of fraud, it got me thinking about people's perceptions of what it is to be disabled - especially, what it is to be young and disabled.
I've pasted my response below:
I've pasted my response below:
Cases like that can be really complicated though - and can be hugely frustrating for those of us who're genuinely disabled and yet trying to be as productive citizens as we possibly can.
- Obviously, in this case, she's either pulling a fast one or has been badly advised because while they always tell you to strengthen your stomach muscles with long term spine issues, she should have been told that belly dancing (like pole dancing) is extremely high-impact on the spine and so not suitable.
Other forms though, maybe ballroom dancing, done at a low level and carefully and not for long periods, could be very beneficial.
The trouble is, getting the balance right. If you're disabled by an injury like that (I was too, though under different circumstances) and especially if you're young - the prevailing attitude you get from so called "health" professionals, is one that if you're making the best of it and getting on with accepting your lot and doing your best to make life work, the you must not be trying hard enough, which is usually followed up with advice to "just do ANYTHING to get more active"
The problem is, "Health" is more than just the medical side of things. - Yes, it's obvious that if someone is genuinely disabled, they ought to be supported, but those disabled people (like me) who're lucky enough to be granted a pension from the state, then have a civic duty to be as productive citizens as they can possibly be in whatever way they can. (For me that's a mix of volunteering; occasional days working in education; crafting for charity; studying; and keeping my blog (http://mouse-hearthside.blogspot.com/) - which deals specifically with the realities of living with disability and being young.)
Doing things like this, not only allows for occasional contributions back to the state (generally through other means than financial, but hey, every little helps - right?) but helps to keep you sane and feeling useful - like you actually have a role to play.
"Quality of life and emotional/mental health is vital for anybody. - For those of us with a disability it can also mean the difference between having the interest and drive to go out and grab life with both hands and be the best person that we can possibly be, or not pushing so hard, which can result in lower mobility and poorer physical health, depression, frustration and a whole load of negative things that not only affect us, but our families, neighbours and communities as well.
Incidentally, having lived under both the UK and Irish disability pension systems, I have to say, the Irish system is much better than the English one in terms of enabling those on disability allowance to even look into a proper quality of life and being able to at least in part keep up with their civic obligations,
So I can't help but wonder if, beyond any personality flaw that leads to the kind of abhorrent behavior highlighted in stories like this one, whether there's a roll that's played by the persistence by a stupidly large majority of people that if you're disabled you must be a wheelchair user, over 30, who stays quietly out of the way and doesn't get under anyone's feet or slow them down and who's idea of a high time, is being taken out for a run in the car just to the paper shop and back. - It certainly won't help. I just hope that this story doesn't cause even more prejudice against disabled people who're genuinely trying to be as well, as independent and as able as they possibly can!