Friday, March 23, 2012

Handicaps and disabilities

I was sitting and talking to my Bonnie Ronnie about our life together, only 38 years (married 35) and she asked me to write something for people with disabilities similar to her own. We have  quite a number of very dear friends who have disabilities and handicaps of varying degrees. Since the social media explosion it has become increasingly easy to find old friends, rekindle relationships that are very dear to us but unfortunately just as easy to lose them again through the ignorance, intolerance and or impatience of 'normal' people.

While the social networks are especially useful to those with obvious physical disabilities that can be hidden from view and prejudice, the same cannot be said for those with intellectual or mental handicaps ('IMH'). It is this latter group that I am thinking of and writing this blog for.

Love, happiness and acceptance, is that not what we all want? is that not at least what we are entitled to? What is the cost? Nothing! There is a great misconception that IMH people are all retarded, stupid or idiots but somehow devoid of feelings and emotions. The abuse that this group suffers as a result is not always blatantly overt but this group generally have a heightened awareness and perception so the abuse is just as devastating. IMH people are not looking for sympathy. I see a lot of demonstrated but insincere sympathy and personally view it as condescending and insulting as do many of the IMH group. 

The biggest obstacle for IMH sufferers is communication (not sure that the word "sufferers" is appropriate because they are usually very well adjusted and happy people with a great sense of humour). I have often heard them say that they feel trapped in bodies with mouths and tongues that will not function the way they are intended. They often feel as though they are in a prison within themselves, fearing to come out. When they feel that they are winning the battle within and find the courage to attempt something 'normal' such as answer the telephone or express themselves in an email their confidence is easily shattered and this can set them back days, months or even years.

I have heard understanding, tolerant, patient 'normal' people express their frustration at not being able to understand an IMH person, so just for a moment, imagine the frustration the IMH person would be feeling.... not with the 'normal' person but with their own body.

I am no expert and have no qualification in social studies but have lived with and observed this prejudice for most of my life. I must admit that I am far more tolerant of the ignorance, prejudice and rudeness of those who are blatant in their abuse than I was as a young man.

Ronnie has always tried to hide her handicap (cerebral palsy, but quite mild fortunately) until recently as a direct result of the prejudice, bigotry and abuse she has suffered all her life, from birth, rejected by her own mother. Ronnie says, "I did nothing to bring this upon myself, it's not my fault!". This is true for the majority of IMH people that I have had contact with.

Ronnie is so grateful to the school that housed her, provided operations for her eyes, speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, education and a social network - her extended family. The school; King George VI Memorial Children School for the Handicapped. There was a huge amount of support, love and encouragement for her which helped prepare her for this rather harsh and nasty world. Ronnie feels that she has been far more fortunate than many other people and wants us to raise awareness for those who are less fortunate.

I have watched Ronnie put up with the prejudice of not only the public at large but also my own family and friends. I have held Ronnie as she sat and sobbed, completely heartbroken because she embarrassed her children when dropping them off at junior school. I have encouraging her to shrug it off and helped build her confidence to keep moving forward. Please don't misunderstand though, I am no noble knight in shining armour believe me. There have been times in our life that my support has been left wanting and the guilt of this weighs heavily upon me. Ronnie has come a long way over time and the battle for her and other IMH people is far harder than for 'normal' people but as we approach our senior years my Bonnie Ronnie's handicap is becoming more pronounced and noticeable, hence Ronnie's desire to put this information out there.

As mentioned previously the confidence that is so easily shattered can take a long time to rebuild and an example of this is; 20 years ago I managed to get Ronnie interested enough in computers to write an email, while she was writing I popped out for a while and a friend dropped in to see me, Ronnie sought assistance from the friend to save the email which she had laboured over the whole day. He being a novice, made a mistake and gave the wrong advise which caused the work to be lost and then told Ronnie that it was her own fault with "Don't touch the bloody computer if you don't know what you are doing!" On my return the friend was gone and Ronnie was a real mess - it took 15 years of encouragement to overcome her fear of computers sufficiently to actually touch one.

Please help us raise awareness of the IMH Intellectually and Mentally Handicapped, it is the only way to overcome prejudice and abuse brought about by ignorance.


I started off this week with a clear plan of action which very quickly became a a chaotic rush to meet too many deadlines thereby missing all of them and creating an even bigger problem. Isn't hindsight wonderful, I can see so clearly now where I went wrong.... uhm no, it doesn't help the current situation but it does help me to castigate myself efficiently and accurately. Perhaps..just maybe.. I'll learn to concentrate on completing just one task at a time.

My good friend Vonee has been assisting with cleaning the malware from our web site and getting it up to speed and I do tend to burden her sympathetic ear with some of my thoughts and idea's. I love the way she brings me back to earth with a great big thud if I start getting ahead of myself. Thanks Von, the web site is clean, and running well so we can concentrate on cleaning up the content and revitalising it soon.

It has been nine months since putting out a newsletter and this was one of my tasks this week with postage due today, needless to say that won't happen till Monday now. The newsletter will be far more personal as I would like to maintain the original format but share a closer personal connection with our reader. Today I must ensure that our insurances are all up to date. The certificates of currency need to be scanned into the system for distribution to our suppliers, and post them to our web site.

Since we have decreased the size of the business we wound up with an awful pile of records and equipment in our home and it is taking a lot of sorting but finally the archives are now in some semblance of order. Ronnie and I sorted and destroyed all the old expired records which was quite a mammoth task as we had to double check each because of the move, necessary though to to be sure that only the expired records were destroyed.

Next task is to sort stock and equipment, now that I can actually turn around in the garage - just. Stock won't be too much of an issue as we will only carry cable, fasteners, batteries and a few small cameras and detectors for emergency. A bit more specialist equipment though that I don't I expect we will have it sorted in a weekend but things are almost back to normal. We still have an excess of vehicles so we will be advertising them and will probably have a garage sale in April to dispose of excess office supplies, old stock and a few household items.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Children

I have taken a few minutes out from the tasks ahead of me to clear my mind and organise my thoughts. I find one of the most helpful tools to clear the mind, is positive reflection.

The most positive aspect of my life is my family, and I come from a family that do not express their true feelings and emotion openly. For us it is almost taboo to have an emotion let alone express it so I have determined to express my thoughts and emotions as best I can. Particularly when those thoughts and emotions are positive.

Thinking of our (my Bonnie Ronnie and I) children (Jason and Candice) today and reflecting on the high's and low's I want to say something to them from my heart, some true emotion if you like.

"I love you, my children. There is nothing that you can do that can separate me away from you. Yes there are times that I abhor and despise the things that you do... but you, I will always adore.

You are never outside of my love, never an outcast, never a failure never so far away that my love can't reach you. You need not do anything to please me, for I am already pleased that you are the confident, beautiful, caring and loving people you have turned out to be.

If only I could take every fear, every tear, every hurt from you ...I would for I love you so completely, so unconditionally that I would give my life for yours without thought.

I tell you this now because it is what I feel, it is who I am and who I percieve you to be. Because I am so very proud of who you are and because I need you to KNOW this." - Dad.

God, I am so blessed - thank you!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My lack of routine

I have a million and one things on the boil (slight exaggeration but it certainly feels that way). I have taken on board a friends advice to look into writing styles and have enrolled in a publishing college so that I may learn how to do this properly. I have also signed up for an Internet marketing course because I see this as the way of the future.

I could see the potential for the Internet as a social media network back in the early 90's when Ronnie and I ran an ISP from our home in Brisbane. What a time that was but I lacked vision, discipline and finance - funny how some things never change. I did however, educate myself on all things computer because it seemed that I had a knack for them and my mind was like a sponge, soaking it all in. Unfortunately as life does, we had a few challenges and obstacles crop up which ultimately changed our course and brought the ISP to an end. I did however come to realise that knowledge alone is not enough, one must have a plan, schedule and above all self discipline.

I still have a business to run and this last week has been very challenging as our web site (designed and hosted by my good friend Vonee) fell victim to a hacker and wound up as a malware distributor. Ordinarily this wouldn't present too much of a problem as we would redirect traffic to an alternate clean site while we repair the main site however when the Domain Name Server has a redirection error loop that their technicians are unable to repair, then things get very messy. What happens is that all the search engines advise you of the threat in the first instance but if the risk is not reduced in a timely fashion your site becomes blacklisted. The longer the site is blacklisted, the longer it will take to populate the site to the world as safe. Our primary site is once again clean (thanks to Vonee) and we didn't even get to use our clean site however the redirection error loop remains unchanged and so the problem is persistent. Our clients can reach our site safely if they opt to continue beyond the threat warning but this is not a practice that I would endorse.

I still have a garage full of business records that I need to sort through in short order and a stack of bits and bobs to advertise and sell on ebay once we have a functioning savings account that we can access again. In the meantime I have set a target; over the remainder of this month, schedules and routines will be developed and implemented gradually so that with a little self discipline I can get my life back on track.