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Looking up for them

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Sharron Report 10 Oct 2017 12:52

When I was young, those who were less able always appeared to live in a kind of murky , secret world. You would see elderly people who had probably had next to no help from anybody, trailing their adult children around the shops or pushing them in wheelchairs. Loved though they may have been, there was still, then, some stigma to having a less able family member and there was little financial support. A lady I knew, who gave birth to a Downs daughter in the thirties, had been advised to go home and leave the little girl in the hospital so she could, no doubt, be hidden from public view in an institution somewhere.

Yesterday, we went to a pub for lunch and there was what I thought to be a family group enjoying their lunch together. They were all smartly dressed with smart haircuts and it was not until they were leaving and the two mums were playing about with the walking frame that I realized that it was two carers taking their clients out for lunch.

How much brighter and more stimulating life is for the less able now.


Caroline Report 10 Oct 2017 13:06

For sure a big step in the right direction.


maggiewinchester Report 10 Oct 2017 13:38

It all wasn't very long ago, was it?
My mother was full of contradictions. Her father's best friend, Stan, was black - but mum was racist - when I asked her why, when Stan was such a good man, she said he was 'different'.
Likewise, when I was very young, we passed a 'security' gate with strange wailings and laughter from behind it. I asked who was behind the gate - she, disparagingly, said 'mentally deranged children' - yet she had an uncle (Arthur) who was (from info gathered) probably quite high on the Autism spectrum.

He never spoke, couldn't survive without a strict regime (or had meltdowns), yet was a maths genius. Mum was aware he was special needs - but yet again, he was 'different' to other special needs children.

My great grandmother didn't 'send Arthur off', she looked after him - he had a newspaper round as a lad, and was an upholsterer as an adult.
When my great grandparents died, Arthur went to live with his younger brother and his wife. This worked well, until Arthur retired - he had no 'regime' in his life, and was, apparently, unbearable to live with, so ended up in a care home.


Dermot Report 10 Oct 2017 13:51

'Caring for the carers' often gets overlooked too.

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it Report 10 Oct 2017 14:06

It's very sad how years ago those with problems may have been hidden or consigned to asylums as they were an embarrassment

Our daughter and SIL have custody of his son from a previous relationship
He is 17 but has a chromosome syndrome so has a mental age of 8 .he is also on the autistic spectrum
He is a lovely lad and very polite because they have had custody since he was 4 and daughter has always put boundaries in for him
He comes to me in his school holidays from Sunday evening to friday afternoon because he isn't able to function on his own.

It isn't easy with him and they have to watch him now because his hormones say 17 but his brain is aged 8 poor lad doesn't know how to cope with the impulses his body is sending out


maggiewinchester Report 10 Oct 2017 14:12

Dermot - so true, and in those days, no financial or respite help!

Hormones plus syndrome, must cause him awful frustrations - and be quite scary, and quite a challenge.

At least, for those in Care Homes now, the staff are aware of how people are affected.


SylviaInCanada Report 10 Oct 2017 19:58

My mother's youngest brother Norman was born in 1925 with a mental disability ............... grandmother always said it was because they used high forceps in his delivery.

When he reached school age, grandparents moved to a nearby town ............. our town had a special school for special needs children, and everyone knew that. They thought it was a terrible disgrace. The nearby town didn't have a special school so they could send Norman to a Dame School .......... run by 2 middle-aged spinsters who apparently (according to my dad) just baby sat the children attending their school.

Grandparents moved back to their house after a few years, and I'm not sure where Norman went to school or if he did. I do know that my dad started to teach him his numbers and that Norman was bright enough to play jokes ................ so when he pretended one day that he couldn't remember something dad tapped his hand.

That was it ........ dad had "punished" Norman, and no more teaching.

Grandmother and then grandfather after her death in 1954 kept Norman at home and did everything for him until grandfather died in 1963.

My mum was dead by then, and the only surviving sibling (of 4) was married and lived about ½ mile away. They had no children, but his wife refused to have Norman living with them. Social Services got involved, decided Norman was in fact capable of living on his own with some help, and got him employment at Remploy. His sister-in-law cooked extra at dinner time and took part of if up to his house until he died in 1991.

Norman worked at Remploy from 1963 to 1991, earned money, learnt how to count ........... and knew exactly how much change he should get back when he bought something. He went on holidays and trips arranged by Remploy and SS

I occasionally think of how much he could have achieved if grandparents had allowed him to go to that special school :-(


maggiewinchester Report 10 Oct 2017 20:36

....but then The Government closed and sold off all the Remploy factories.....

Which, to me is a step backwards.

Apparently, great granny used to say Arthur was dropped on his head!


SylviaInCanada Report 10 Oct 2017 20:38

I had heard that they had closed.

Does seem a step backwards


maggiewinchester Report 10 Oct 2017 20:43

They actually sold them off at a loss to Maximus (who then sold them on at a vast profit).
Maximus (an American firm) then took over from ATOS (a French firm) in the harassing - sorry - assessing of disabled people's ability to work.
It 'only' costs £1.6 billion over 3 years (so far), and costs we taxpayers much more than it saves.


SylviaInCanada Report 11 Oct 2017 00:14

I've heard horror stories ............ I have several English friends who have had to deal with ATOS, including a couple who were told they were able to work when they couldn't even walk!


maggiewinchester Report 11 Oct 2017 00:17

There are lists of people who have died whilst being declared 'fit for work', others who have died after being sanctioned, and people who have committed suicide.
The system was condemned by the UN, but still they carry on.


Sharron Report 11 Oct 2017 00:20

Well, my doctor knows a breakdown when he sees one but it didn't tick their boxes so I had no money to live on.


maggiewinchester Report 11 Oct 2017 15:15

Yes, all very well being diagnosed, but if you don't 'tick the boxes' in another department (eg. DWP) the whole system of support falls down :-|


maggiewinchester Report 11 Oct 2017 16:32

Sorry it's long:
At the start of the Autumn term of my second year at Totton, in1968, when I was 12, the school decided we should learn more about other religions.
Unfortunately, the RE teacher had no idea about any other religion, apart from his (Christianity), so we spent week after week watching films about starving Biafrans.
I realised I knew more than he did, as dad had converted to Islam, and was fe up with my life being wasted watching distressing films..

One day, near half term I said to the RE teacher: 'Charity begins at home, doesn't it?' He agreed. 'So', I carried on, 'We can't help the Biafrans, but there are children at Tatchbury Mount we could help'. He agreed, and told me to ask the head!

By the way, I have no idea how I knew there were children with learning disabilities there - and I'd never (knowingly) met a child with a learning disability in my life.

Long story short - I ended up doing volunteer work for 2 afternoons a week - giving up the 'glories' (with permission/persuasion of the head) of PE, RE, double games, needlework and cookery :-D
Something that wouldn't be allowed now - and I'm sure a 12 year old wouldn't be allowed to walk 2 miles up the road to do voluntary work on her own!!

It transpires the head of voluntary services had an unusual surname - as did I.
He'd recognised my name when the head organised the meeting (I had half a day 'trial run'), I recognised his name when he told me, and we worked out we were related by marriage! By the way, this lovely elderly gentleman was a Grandfather of Nicola Duffett)
I volunteered all through school, the school holidays and, when I went to College (I trained as a Norland Nanny :-S) I arranged for it to be one of my 'experience' locations for the first year.
When I first went there it was horrific - 10 - 15 children with various levels of disability in a bare room, with high ceilings, and near the ceiling, a small TV, with the sound turned very low.
Small changes were made, slowly.

At Christmas, I thought it would be nice to have some live music, and persuaded my brother's girlfriend's sister's boyfriend (who had a band) to play for the children.
The lads arrived, one strum on the guitar - and they were swamped!! :-D
The children were fascinated. They'd never heard music before, and just wanted to make their own.
Very few songs were played, but the lads went away vowing to get some second hand instruments for the children.
Other people from the school got involved, and fundraising started for toys, bean bags, books.
I gave up when I was 17, for a few reasons, the main one was because twin Downs Syndrome boys came in. They were about 18 months old, very happy, chirpy and absolutely gorgeous.
I couldn't stay to watch them becoming institutionalised. Things had changed - but not enough.

I knew it was bad when I was there, but was surprised at how long it took for these institutions to be 'humanised'.
I found this:


Kay???? Report 11 Oct 2017 18:22


maggiewinchester Report 11 Oct 2017 18:27

<3 <3 <3


SylviaInCanada Report 11 Oct 2017 19:49

I did know children with learning disabilities other than my uncle from being a small child ..............

in fact there was a young man who (to me) seemed very similar to Norman ...........

I believe the fact that grandmother was over 40 when Norman was born might have had more to do with his disability, than the high forceps, but maybe not.

Norman was the youngest of 4, born at wide intervals ............. 1903, 1915, 1920, 1925. No mention was ever made of miscarriages or still births in the intervening years.

The other man lived just 3 doors away from my grandparents, and also had older parents ........ age or high forceps???

There were a couple of what we called "slow learners" in my Infants and junior schools, and a Downs child lived near where my brother and his wife lived.

We tended to chat and talk with them, but not make friends .............. hard to remember that!