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"I\'m a crawling mummy": how one disabled mum looks after her son
Laura with son Jonathan on her lap

Laura got alternative parenting ideas from a support network

Laura Miller lives in Glasgow with her husband and 13 month old Jonathan. As Mother's Day approaches, the wheelchair-using mum explains how she cares for her little boy who she cannot carry.

"I do most of my parenting sitting down," says Laura. She can transfer from her chair to the floor and move around after her son on her hands and knees. But because she can't pick him up while standing, she's had to find other ways of getting Jonathan to where she wants him to be in the house.

At bedtime, Laura lures Jonathan to where his cot is by switching off all lights in places she doesn't want him to be, leaving on only the light in his room. Sometimes she crawls through the house with him, squeaking a noisy toy to grab his attention and make him follow.

The self-declared "crawling mummy" is in no doubt who is faster on four limbs and has the bruises to prove it. She is confident Jonathan's not upset that he's not carried because she makes it fun getting from place to place.

Laura can pick her child up and hold him while sitting down.

When outside, she obviously wouldn't want her son to crawl behind her in the street. So when getting ready, she coaxes him over with her voice and, when he's close to her powerchair, she can reach him and put him on her lap; he then sits nicely protected in a baby carrier strapped to Laura's middle while they're away from home.

"Children do tune in to what you're doing," she says. "He'll run to his dad to get him to lift him up ... but he won't do it with me."

Laura makes sure she is "super ready" for every possible situation and believes she has become an amazing problem-solver. "That is the unique property of a disabled parent," she says. "We have to do it at a higher level and that's why we need encouragement from other parents because, obviously, that can get exhausting. You need people to keep cheering you on and feeding you ideas."

In Laura's case, the support came from the Disabled Parents Network, for mums and dads with a disability or health condition. She credits DPN with teaching her the strategies she uses, and other examples of what she calls "alternative parenting".

The Glasgow mum is now a volunteer for the organisation, helping other disabled parents herself. She says: "I think it's really important to let parents know that they're not on their own."

• Laura Miller was speaking with Liz Carr and Rob Crossan on the latest disability talk show from Ouch!

Listen to the interview in full on the latest show which you can download to your MP3 player or hear online.

You can follow Ouch! on Twitter and on Facebook.


Publ.Date : Fri, 08 Mar 2013 11:30:44 +0000

Voices Found: Stammerers collaborate on new mini album
Matt Bond

"I'm fluent when I sing" says Matt

Twenty year-old music student Matt Bond has produced an EP, featuring himself and four fellow artists who all have a stammer. He doesn't like using phones, so explains his project in an interview conducted by email.

I had to come up with an idea for a project as part of my popular music course at Falmouth.

Music and stammering have been two hugely influential and defining factors in my life and so I wanted to merge them somehow.

I'm always fluent when singing. No one knows for certain why this is but I've often heard that of the brain, which is why some people with other disabilities such as Tourette's also find they can sing without their disability interrupting them.

My inspiration for an EP came when I read the story of Kyle Coleman in the Cornishman newspaper. He also finds it difficult to communicate, he had rarely spoken aloud, but found out he could sing and made a charity album in aid of autism, the condition he has.

I've found that there's a lack of understanding about stammering and what it's like to have one, so I decided to make my own awareness-raising recording.

The British Stammering Association kindly sent a call out via their social media pages, asking for interested musicians who stammer to contact me.

Adam Lovell, Brandon Marchant, Oli Cheadle and Ben James came forward. They each wrote, performed and produced their songs about stammering and then sent them for inclusion on the EP that we named Voices Found. Their songs are: Tell Me If You See This, Normal, Shaking the Rafters and Pathways, respectively.

Lyrics from the Voices Found EP

And oh, time moves so slow in the moments when you wish the ground would open up and swallow you whole.It's more than just dumb luck how my words get stuck when I try to say my name...

(chorus)
Well the phone's got teeth and the sound of the ring gives me constant grief, but I don't care.
Could I squash that fear? Pick it up - let 'em know that I'm still here?
I'll sew a patchwork quilt from my shame and guilt and the fit can more than make do.
Tell me how it feels to be normal. I want to be normal too - and only normal will do.

(Normal by Brandon Marchant)

The song that I contributed to the project, Part of Me, expresses the problems stammering causes me in day to day life but is also an acceptance that stammering is part of who I am, hence the title.

I had speech therapy sessions at school and took a two week intensive speech therapy course at the Michael Palin Centre in London when I was around 16. I tried many fluency techniques which they suggest, such as slow speech and sliding in and out of words, but nothing really seemed to stick.

The course was still a life changing experience , because for the first time I met other people my age who stammered. This made me realise I was not alone and I gained a lot of confidence.

Stammering can be extremely frustrating at times, causing feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety. Things that other people take for granted become a real problem, like talking on the phone and introducing yourself to new people.

I hope the album will show there's more to someone who stammers than what comes from their mouths, and I hope it will inspire others in the same situation, giving music they can relate to.

(As told to Emma Tracey)

Read more about the Voices Found EP and watch Matt Bond on YouTube.

All proceeds from Matt's EP are to be donated to the British Stammering Association.

You can follow Ouch! on Twitter and on Facebook.


Publ.Date : Fri, 01 Mar 2013 09:55:22 +0000


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