I’ve been in my current job for over four years, and since the beginning I’ve had a support worker with me most of the time. To start with it was only twice a week, but when my ‘ticcing fits’ began in 2011 it became a full-time arrangement.
The children I work with are very familiar with my support workers and know how they help me – some have support workers themselves. I don’t recall anyone ever making comments about them before but recently a few of the kids have started referring to them as my ‘bouncers’.
It started by accident when a new child asked, ‘Where’s your bouncer gone?’ It took me a minute to realise what he meant, but when I did, it made me and his friends laugh. One of them said to him ‘Haven’t you ever heard of a carer?’ I said I think I like the term ‘bouncer’ better, and since then it’s come up quite a number of times.
On the face of it this story probably doesn’t sound very significant. But as I’ve thought about it a bit more I’ve come to realise that it demonstrates something important. What it shows is how thinking inclusively very soon makes disability just a natural part of how the world is.
The kids where I work are relaxed about disability, they’re familiar with people doing things in different ways, comfortable talking about disability, sharing information with new people, and even making jokes about disability that are inclusive of the disabled person.
To me this shows how crucial it is that difference is visible within our communities, within our schools and within the media. This is the way negative attitudes, stereotypes and fear will be broken down and understanding encouraged. And if you don’t believe me, you can speak to my bouncers.