Perspectives section writer
Alice is a dyslexic TEFL teacher who achieved a B.Ed Primary, and always loves a challenge. She now focuses on blogging; writing about chronic illnesses and entertaining stories. She’s a phonetic finding, rampant writing, cat kissing, alliterating anarchist!
(03.02.18) – Life Plans and Monthly Reminders
Ten years ago, I was in my first year of University at Aberdeen, studying to be a Primary school teacher. It was a daunting, but exciting time. I had plans for my future and much to look forward to. I decided I wanted to be a teacher to help learners, like myself, that struggle in the education system. After achieving my degree, I planned to establish myself as a teacher before going back to University to gain the qualifications I needed to become a Special Educational Needs teacher.
I had always wanted a family and so my plan was to enjoy my early 20s, find someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, get married and have two children. A teaching career seemed like a good match with the challenges of having a family. In my mind I had it all worked out. I’d decided that by around my 30th birthday I would probably have given birth to my last child. I’m going to have my 30th birthday this year, and my life didn’t go to plan.
(20.01.18) – You’re Having a Laugh
Life is hard. For everyone. We’re all trying to find some meaning to our lives, trying to figure out where we belong and what our purpose is. Amongst that, we see what is going on the world, either connected to us or globally. Our environment can be tough to digest.
My last article was about the cuts the government is in the process of implementing to benefits for disabled people. I spent a lot of time researching the article and it really brought me down. I already knew it was a problem and needed to be spoken about, bknowledge,ut to learn the extent of the issue and read personal experiences, made me feel hopeless. The news can easily do that. Making it difficult, not only to take control and make positive changes to our environment, but to make those changes for ourselves. It’s a trick that’s as old as the book. Since the time people were able to establish a hierarchy, those on top kept everyone else in the dark to keep them in their place. Knowledge is power. Muddy the water of knowledge, and we disengage and disenfranchise the masses.
(06.01.18) – Who Benefits?
Hurray, 2018 is upon us. January always seems like a month of reflection and contemplation to me, mainly because nothing much happens, and most people are recovering from December. Although, I feel this way as I type, there is a niggling dread at the back of my mind for 2018. I’m probably not the only one that feels this way. A new year invites new opportunities, but it also means that these openings provide an element of risk or failure.
(23.12.17) – A Change is as Good as a Rest?
So much has happened in only a few months, for me personally as well as globally – let’s be honest, the the past year’s events in the United States of America alone of the past year would be tough to sum up in a 1,000 word article. I don’t think I could do justice to the topic. As this is my first article in a while, I thought I’d focus on what I’ve been up to, to give you an idea of the reasons for my absence the last few months.
(02.09.17) – My Relationship
CW: mentions of death
Pain. Nearly all of us experience it. We all have a relationship with pain, even if we’re not aware of it. Pain allows us to avoid or reduce injury – but sometimes these signals to the brain that are supposed to help can instead go very wrong.
(20.08.17) – A Hidden Strength
The language we use can offer us a glimpse into our core values. Words can be loaded with deeper meaning that demonstrate the true beliefs of a society or individual. This is why, when we use the word “disabled”, it’s worth noting that we tend to veer towards negative language. When looking up synonyms of the word disabled, I was surprised by the loaded and emotive language I found – words like weakened, incapable, damaged and powerless.
(05.08.17) – If I Were in Charge…
Let’s be honest – I’m sure if I was actually in charge of the country I’d be rubbish at it. The role of Prime Minister does not appeal to me. It’s not exactly your 9-to-5 kind of job. The stress and responsibilities you’d have, not to mention the impossible decisions you’d have to make, would turn me into a quivering wreck. And that’s before your character is picked apart by the media. As a disabled person, roles like that of PM are particularly inaccessible. Trying to live your own life with chronic pain and minimum spoons is hard enough without attempting to run a county as well. That doesn’t mean I can’t spent time on trying to imagine a better world. And I reckon I have a few good ideas from such imaginings – though everything is always much easier from the comfort of your armchair. Sports fans shouting advice through their televisions at some of best trained athletes in the world comes to mind.
(22.07.17) – The Large Minority
The term “minority group” invokes the image of a very small percentage of people. When I was a teacher, I had a minority group in my classroom consisting of a small number of children who needed different support and teaching methods to the rest of the class. In an ideal world, every child’s individual needs would have been met, but this was not the case. Time, resources, space – these resources affect the treatment of minority groups on a much larger national scale as well. The ‘majority’ have their needs met, while smaller groups who don’t fit into the majority box are often left behind, mistreated, or ignored.
(09.07.17) – Undateable?
Dating has changed a lot over the last few decades. In the time before dating apps, people would meet at work, in cafés, or via friends or family. It may seem like a simpler time, but it did mean that the variety of people for you to meet was limited to your direct community. I think you would be lucky to find ‘the one’ when there is a world full of possible ‘ones’. As Tim Minchin so eloquently said, “If I didn’t have you, I’d probably have somebody else”.
(24.06.17) – Wee All Have to Go
There are so many terrible things going on in the world. I could talk about any number of them – but everybody else is already doing so. What has always been my concern about things like Brexit is that the aspects of life that were already difficult are going to be forgotten in favour of this new event. So many people are going to be left behind as the government puts all of its focus on negotiating our split from the EU. And so my article today is not going to be about any of the ‘big issues’. It’s going to be about a very small one. It’s one that really gets my goat, but it’s often forgotten. Well – not just forgotten. It doesn’t even register to most people.
I’m talking about toilets.
(14.05.17) – Running Away
I moved to Norwich five years ago. Well, actually, I didn’t move to Norwich at all. When I relay the story of how I came to live in Norwich I always jokingly say I came to visit and never left. For me Norwich was great – love at first sight. The reason why I came to stay in Norwich was a lot less great and a lot more painful. I came down for a week to visit my mother and celebrate our birthdays (they’re six days apart). I was living in Aberdeen at the time, so at the end of the week my mum drove me up to the Scottish border as planned. She was going to see friends, and I was going to carry on my journey from there. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. The prospect of continuing my journey filled me with crippling fear. It became obvious to my mum that I couldn’t go home. And so we turned around, and came back to Norwich. I ran away.
(29.04.17) – Finding Your Therapy
When it comes to health treatments, people like myself will try almost anything once. And I have. Living with chronic pain, fatigue and joint instability as I am, I will do many things to seek relief from my symptoms. I’ve tried reflexology, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, medication, TENS, reiki, acupuncture, chiropractics; the list goes on. All of them have their merits, but they don’t always have the desired effect.
(15.04.17) – Bodies
I’ve been thinking a lot about my body recently. In the last month I’ve been pushing it pretty hard, so I have a lot to reflect on. I talked about going to the March for Europe in my last article, and the preparation I put in beforehand to make sure my body would survive. Since the march, I have been doing a lot of walking and swimming. This brings feelings of terror and excitement. I fear I will dislocate and put myself back in my wheelchair. But I’m excited to feel the freedom my body hasn’t experienced in over five years. My current mission is to make myself stronger, stable, and resilient.
(11.03.17) – The Gift: Dyslexia
Igminae a wlrod wree the wetrtin wrod is as hrad to raed as tihs. Imagine that written word is in your first language, not a second or third. Imagine the difficulty it presents every day, how others perceive you, how exhausting it is to read, and understand. Some of you reading this won’t have to imagine. This is the world of a dyslexic.
Often people think of dyslexia as word blindness, or even attribute it to a low intelligence score. When I was a Primary School teacher I often heard people referring to dyslexia as a “nice way of calling middle-class children slow”. This attitude horrified me. Many attitudes in school staff-rooms towards learning horrified me. As a child, I remember my mother would explain out to my teachers my dyslexia at every parents evening. The same teachers, every year, and it was always a surprise to them. As an adult and an educator, I had hoped attitudes had changed, but in my experience this is not the case.
(18.02.17) – More Than a Best Friend
We’ve all heard it said that dogs are man’s best friend. It appears to hold true – in the UK one in two households owns a pet and in 2015 it was estimated that the pet population stood at 8.5 million dogs and 7.4 million cats. With so many of us owning and loving our pets, the idea that dogs can be more than faithful companions isn’t that surprising. The ones who know that the best are likely the 7000-plus disabled people in the UK who depend on assistance dogs for care ranging from alerting those with epilepsy of an oncoming seizure, guiding the blind, or helping someone with limited mobility to perform daily activities. They are even used for therapeutic needs, often for those suffering with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety or depression.
(04.02.17) – Can We Call It Love?
(Content warning: mention of sexual assault)
I’m sure you’ve all noticed the Valentine’s Day gifts and cards that seem to be everywhere at the moment. Like Christmas, it’s almost impossible to avoid. When I got outside I can barely move for all the soppy rom-coms, chocolates and flowers that are being bandied about. And all of them carry connotations of sex.
(07.01.17) – Acting Disabled: Why We Need Disabilities Onscreen
(Content warning: discussion of ableism & ableist slurs)
The summer of 2016 saw outrage in response to the film Me Before You and its portrayal of disability. The film, directed by Thea Sharrock and based on the book by Jojo Moyes, is a romance following the lives of a young man (played by Sam Claflin) and woman (Emilia Clarke). Where’s the controversy in that, you ask? Well…
(12.12.16) – I’m A Feminist, But
I’ve known a few women who’ve said, “I would never get married. I wouldn’t be a good feminist if I did.” What does it mean to be a ‘good feminist?’ Do we even want to be feminists, especially when feminists are frequently derided as man-haters? How did it come to this? I always thought feminism was about gender equality. From an uneducated standpoint I understood it to be a movement designed to create equal opportunities for women within work, politics, home and social life, but it seems to have become so much more than this. Feminism means different things to different people. I’m no expert on the subject, but I’d like to think I am a feminist even though I’ve never read a book on the matter. So I decided to try and educate myself – and here is what I understand:
(26.11.16) – The Girl Who Cried Zebra
It’s a beautiful sunny day in August. A young woman named Jennifer and her mum go to the beach to soak up the rays. On her way into the water, Jennifer’s right wrist starts to hurt, and then her left wrist does the same. The pain is excruciating. She doesn’t know it, but they have dislocated. She and her mum can’t understand what has happened. It makes no sense. Distressed and confused the two women go home. Jennifer’s mum drives the car, and while sitting in the passenger’s seat, Jennifer dislocates her ankle. She doesn’t know that is the reason for the agonising pain. The two try to make sense of the situation.
(12.11.16) – Spoons: Living With Fatigue
Have you ever been tired? Sure you have – but it’s no big deal. You might have a sit down, drink a coffee, maybe take a nap. Now – have you ever been fatigued? I’m not asking you the same question, much as it might seem like it. Fatigued isn’t the same as being tired. Although often considered to be similar, there’s actually a big difference between the two. The dictionary tells us that tired means we need more sleep or rest. Fatigue, on the other hand, is an extreme form of tiredness caused by physical or mental activity, or by illness. I don’t think this definition of fatigue quite does it justice so I’m going to put forth my own interpretation by discussing fatigue as caused by illnesses such as chronic disorders.