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the social model of disability in action - helen-louise
the social model of disability in action
Oh my. New York Times article about a ballet class for physically disabled kids. "She'll never be a prima ballerina. This isn't about that. She just wants to be like everyone else." *cries*

Yes. This. Recognising that you have physical limitations, and finding ways round them. So what if I have to use a walking stick? if I need boots to support my ankles and take the orthotics? So what if I have to sit down more often than other people? if I need a mask to breathe in smoky air? I know what my limitations are. Achieving "normality" isn't the key. The key is feeling normal.

This is why, in wanting to be able to go cycling, I never cared about trying to learn how to ride a "proper" bike. What have I got to hide? Trying to pass for "normal" only lasts until I pull the metaphorical collapsible walking stick out of the bag and unfold it - it being pretty damn impossible to strap a non-collapsible stick to a bicycle. And I have issues with collapsible walking sticks for permanent disabilities - my disability doesn't neatly tuck itself away just because I'm not in the mood for it, so why should my assistance device? (It's different if the disability itself is temporary or transitory - like if someone only needs the stick on a bad day - but that's not the case for me.) The tricycle lets me go cycling like a normal person, at a normal person's speed, on normal roads and cycle paths. That is enough.

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barakta From: barakta Date: 8th May 2006 20:58 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for that link. That is absolutely the point.

The having assistants who are willing and able to allow these children as much freedom as they can get is good. Who knows what a little pushing of the boundaries in a supported and controlled situation that is enjoyable will enable these children to do one day. These days people with CP have drugs and lifelong therapies to make the best possible use of what they have.

Ballet will almost CERTAINLY be extremely good for ALL of these children in some way or another. It is one of the better dance modes for balance and a solid stable type of muscle strength. Using specific muscles controlledly is one of the main features of ballet, the thinking each motion through in its entirety.

After talking to my Tai Chi instructor last week I'm pretty sure stopping ballet contributed to the severity if not the onset of my initial balance problems. I left because I was stuck at one level where I would never be allowed to progress... If I had known it would be useful for keeping me functioning, I might have continued with it, or similar theraputic thing to replace it.

I'm glad to see you are still getting good use out of the tricycle, I've seen ailbhe's one which looks funky.
quiet000001 From: quiet000001 Date: 8th May 2006 21:38 (UTC) (Link)
I was diagnosed with mild CP when I was born, and it never occured to me that part of the reason I never had too many problems with it was I took ballet and dance classes from when I was quite young. (And when I stopped that, it wasn't long before I took up horseback riding, which requires muscle control and balance.)

Probably an arguement for trying to get back into something like that again. Hmm.
barakta From: barakta Date: 8th May 2006 21:58 (UTC) (Link)
Very probably. My vestibular system is unreliable and anatomically knackered, but does do /something/. The doc I saw in Nov '05 couldn't work out why my balance was a problem now, when it wasn't as I was growing up. I will be interested to see what he says about the ballet.

I'm considering Tai Chi classes at a community centre or college for the next 'intake' as my 12 Tai Chi lessons with the vestibular dysfunction department of the hospital will have finished by then. I think continuation will be the key. Absolutely worth it to stay functional, and hopefully be able to come off my medication entirely.
quiet000001 From: quiet000001 Date: 8th May 2006 22:08 (UTC) (Link)
With me it's always been something that's sort of there, but not really a significant enough problem to have seen anyone about. (I mean, I'm never going to be a surgeon or a high-wire act or a balance beam gymnast, but luckily I never wanted to do any of those things anyway.) It's only recently occured to me to wonder how that aspect of things fits into my other problems.

(I have psoriatic arthritis fairly badly, in addition to severe psoriasis, so that's where medical attention normally ends up- those are the things that actually cause me *pain*.)

For a while I was doing the New York City Ballet dvd to work out when I felt up to it, and I generally felt much better and more in control after a few days of that- I figured it was just the regular exercise but maybe there is something to the TYPE of exercise it is, too. I'm definitely going to have to consider this more. (Particularly since one of the side effects I get sometimes from the medication I'm on now for my arthritis is lightheadedness/vertigo. I need all the balance help I can get. :) )
barakta From: barakta Date: 8th May 2006 22:54 (UTC) (Link)
Ballet is very gentle exercise (for the non pros at least) which encourages stability and consistency of movement. From what little I know about CP problems occur with musculature going into spasm and not being easily controlled. In fact I get muscle problems as a result of 'damage' caused by corrective surgery.

Being able to trust my muscular balance would be good, as I am currently so overreliant upon my vision that I don't notice the balance problems until my nervous system has crapped itself and mad me rather ill. A lot of the minor problems I had as a student such as lightheadedness, almost-blacking out and general nausea+hot/cold spells have been attributed to the balance. I got the shock of my life when my doctor described these symptoms to me, as I hadn't mentioned them to him or anyone else medical. I just thought I had low blood sugar, or that it was me overreacting. Now I know I was pushing myself so hard that my body was calling it quits.

In the US they are years ahead of us on balance treatment. They routinely give low doses of anti-anxiety medication to prevent anxiety development as a result of imbalance - in the UK they wait until you are actually anxious about the balance before treating the underlying causes in the nervous system. They also don't use evil things like prochlorperazine which just make the problem worse in the longterm even if it does seem to 'fix' the problem.
From: evilref Date: 8th May 2006 21:08 (UTC) (Link)
Second the comment about the usefulness of ballet. When I did aikido there was a fellow there with cerebal palsy who made second dan: more than I managed. The physical and mental discipline was helpful to him -- and I pity the mugger who picks him out as an easy target because he's in a wheelchair!

barakta From: barakta Date: 8th May 2006 22:00 (UTC) (Link)
My friend P is profoundly deaf and has no vestibular system (his inner ear is bone instead of fluid). He did Akido for a while and I think it did him a lot of good especially in terms of confidence and balance. He was mugged in 2002, and then the bastards attacked him from behind in broad daylight because they knew he couldn't hear (they were local). I think the akido helped him get over it as much as possible, and stopped him being quite so scared to leave his house.
thekumquat From: thekumquat Date: 9th May 2006 08:57 (UTC) (Link)
This is good to know as I'm looking to take up a martial art and was a bit concerned that lack of balance would be a problem.

I did ballet when I was a little kid but I don't think it helped balance at all - it was lots of standing around and looking pretty, and as we got older (7) being laughed at by other kids. It was very focused on grades by then and the teacher didn't want me in her class any more.
redbird From: redbird Date: 8th May 2006 21:48 (UTC) (Link)
Yes. Most "normal" girls in ballet classes won't end up dancing professionally either--but we don't say they shouldn't take ballet because of that. Much of the time, the point is to do things that you want, or that are good for you, and do them well, for values of well that take into account who you are.
barakta From: barakta Date: 8th May 2006 22:03 (UTC) (Link)
My mum's friend who has a child with Down's Syndrome got sent a story which had the concept that while parents grieve that little disabled johnny won't get to be a brain surgeon, they often don't get reminded that little non-disabled johnny is also unlikely to become a brain surgeon.

There is more to many things than achieving world-class status. I think it is important for people of all abilities and aims to be allowed to do things for enjoyment. I also believe that having 'differently-abled[0]' people in regular classes where possible reminds so called able-bodied people that there is more to it than Winning!

[0] Yes i hate the word different abled too. I can't think of a better word though.
aardvarkoffnord From: aardvarkoffnord Date: 9th May 2006 07:02 (UTC) (Link)

Tricycle. Why didn't I think of that?

[I too have balance problems, but mine are neurological - a left over from my serious alcohol abusing days]
baratron From: baratron Date: 9th May 2006 13:50 (UTC) (Link)
I have a second-hand Pashley Picador that I bought from eBay, but I want a TRI-1. Not least of all because the TRI-1 comes with a folding frame option, which allows me to take it on the train like a "normal" bike :D
porcinea From: porcinea Date: 9th May 2006 09:57 (UTC) (Link)
This "normal" person *WANTS* a trike. Oh, so badly.

I am screamingly envious of ailbhe's new trike.

Does yours have the two wheels in back or in front? I think I've seen a picture of it, but I forget.
baratron From: baratron Date: 9th May 2006 13:51 (UTC) (Link)
There's pictures here, although not of my actual trike, merely the official blurb from the manufacturers about it.
From: artremis Date: 9th May 2006 12:24 (UTC) (Link)
i'm all tear-y over the link - it's briliant.

I think ballet helped me with balance etc but as i wasn't diagnosed them i was the weirdo who got laughed at which caused another set of probelms
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