Around one in five people in Britain live with a disability. That's really quite a lot of people, all who have the same jumble of flaws, strengths, fears, desires and talents as the rest of the population.
But most conversations people have about disability seem to focus on suffering, loss and 'otherness'. As a society, we like to hang our desire to be 'inspired' on one section of the disability community, while accepting the pernicious rhetoric of government and the media that the rest are most likely "benefit scroungers". As a young disabled person, how can develop pride in who you are and what you have to offer if society struggles to see you as just as human as the rest of society?
Puberty isn't remembered fondly by many. It's awkward, often embarrassing and you have questions you're unlikely to want to ask your parents about. Disabled teenagers can often be conveniently "infantilised" and those questions go unanswered. But of course, they need the same information and respect as anyone else. So how do young people with disabilities begin to navigate their way through to adulthood when society is so reluctant to acknowledge that disabled children go through puberty too?
Exploring growing up with Siena and George
We wanted to demystify the topic and asked for help from two of the most well-respected, accomplished young disabled activists we know, Siena Castellon who is autistic, and George Fielding who has cerebral palsy. Listen as they explain their experiences of growing up, changing relationships with parents, and what was important to them as they became young adults.
Our columnist, Siena, founded Neurodiversity Celebration Week. Bullied out of her prestigious state school by teachers, Siena is now a student at acclaimed US university, Stanford. She's also a UN Young Leader, author and activist, and wise beyond her years.
George Fielding, was awarded a British Empire Medal for his services to young disabled people and their families at the tender age of 19. He has a sharp mind, a philosophical outlook and is a prolific fundraiser and activist for social change.
Growing up disabled - the video
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- Neurodiversity and Ableism – a young person’s perspective - April 28, 2023
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- Nowhere to go: The lack of provision for young people with complex needs - February 22, 2023