In times gone by, if you needed a little extra help you got a carer. Someone who might help you in personal ways but maybe also with domestic chores such as cooking and cleaning.
Things are a little different these days.
The independent living movement made it so that many people choose to have a personal assistant rather than a carer.
But what is the difference?
What is a PA?
In simple terms, carer will follow a plan that they cannot deviate from. You can ask not to do something but they cannot do anything that is not in the plan.
Personal Assistants (PAs) are people that are employed directly by you and as result are a lot more flexible. This is because you’re the boss and what you say goes.
In practice, what this means that you can do a great deal more with a PA as opposed to a carer. You can plan trips, have help you to get out and about – basically have them do whatever you want them to do on that day.
With a PA – you can say
Having a PA Can Mean Having Control
If you feel like you want more control over your day to day, then getting a PA can one of the best ways to gain more control.
PAs are directed by you even if you are in your teens. This is important because that element of control, is many disabled teenagers should think about getting a PA.
Travelling solo as a disabled person can feel impossible because you can get caught in the trap of thinking, “I need too much help with everything.”
But travelling solo is one of the best experiences that I have ever had. It is one of the first times in my life that I felt like I had some space, freedom and opportunities.
Here’s the thing though – with little thought and imagination – it’s not that hard!
Gaining Assistance at Airports and Train Stations
The big myth in terms of travel inside the UK at train stations and airports is that you need to book in advance – you don’t – you can turn up and travel on the day. Just be prepared that you might have wait.
Where Should Disabled Solo Travellers Go?
From experience, I can say that many parts of Europe are the best places for disabled solo travellers to go. I’m especially fond of some parts of Scandinavia that have great public transport and culture around disability.
Attitude in some countries can be everything. If you go somewhere with negative public attitudes to disability, facilities don’t make up for the fact that people are just rude.
Do some research into places and ask around, but Europe is usually a good bet.
For information on specific cities – see Global Hopper Guides.
Pack Power Packs
If you anything like me, then your phone is your Swiss army knife that you use for everything from navigation to paying for things.
So the one thing that you don’t want to happen is for your battery to die, when you really need it!
Luckily if you have a power bank handy – say in your Day Bag – then you’ve always got a back up.
Look For The M
For disabled people who travel solo, one of the biggest challenges can be finding facilities that suitable.
A handy little trick can be to look for something like a McDonald’s, this is because that sterile blandness that you hate most of the time, can be a life saver.
So if you are stuck for a toilet or somewhere to nip into for a coffee, look for a M.
Airbnb have some great accessibility options built into their website. These include step-free access to the front door and wide door ways.
Airbnb is now a great way to book accessible rooms on the fly.
Want Something A Bit More Structured?
If you want a bit more of a structured travel experience but still want to go solo – check out Seable Holidays.
Seable Holidays offer totally accessible holiday packages for visually impaired and wheelchair users to a number of destinations.
What is perhaps unique about Seable is that they offer the whole package, including tours and activities. It is perhaps the only way that you can guarantee that you enjoy the whole of your trip.
They cannot not control the weather though!
Panic attacks are no joke, if you suffer a severe attack, they can feel like having a heart attack, with symptoms including:
- Shortness of breath
It can feel like you are going to die (not our words) and although they are not dangerous (physically), no one wants to feel like the symptoms above.
So what can you do if you’re suffering severe attacks?
Keep Physical Contact With Something
If you are experiencing a severe attack, everything can seem very far away and this can only increase your levels of anxiety.
Physical contact with objects or another person, can help you feel grounded and bring you back to a neutral.
Change Your Point of Focus
Changing your focus away from the symptoms of an attack can be one of the best ways to deal with an attack.
How do you do that?
One of the best ways is to do something mechanical and methodical like a puzzle or playing a game.
Recently, we tried Tetris 99 for this specific reason and we have to say it worked a treat. Focusing on where to place the blocks and feeling the process of pressing the buttons really helped shifted the focus away from the attack symptoms and brought the suffer back to neutral.
What you should try to avoid though is taking yourself completely out of the place where the attack is occurring. This is because whatever underlying factors that caused the attack might be tied to that place, so you don’t want to avoid being in that place if you can help it.
Again with most attacks, the overwhelming mental feeling is isolation and the thought that you are so very far away. It can be tempting to keep quiet and just ride out the symptoms, but what can sometimes help is to be vocal and connect to world.
For more information and advice – see – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/coping-with-panic-attacks/
One of the biggest challenges today is staying mentally well.
There so many challenges to staying mentally well these days. Life is complicated by the advent of social media and being bombarded by ‘perfect’ images.
Gone are the days, where people use to spew immortal lines like, “just pull yourself together!”
So how do you stay mentally well? s
Talk To People About You Seem
It can be hard to notice changes in yourself. If you begin going out less or less talkative, it can be hard to be self aware of that; but people who know you well pick up on those kind of things.
Talking to someone who knows you well, can be vital to noticing if your letting negative trends creep into your every day.
Being Over-Productive Is Harmful
Work is the new religion and many of us measure our self-worth by our work.
Being over-productive is bad for you. If you want to stay mentally well, then it is vital to rest.
If you’re beginning to feel exhausted, then it might be time to ask yourself, “Do I need to give myself a break?”
Sometimes, it is just better to have nap.
Thoughts that stay in your head can turn into the strangest of things. Sometimes, by writing things down and taking them out of your own head, can help you make sense of what you think and feel.
Making To Do Lists each day is a really good way to set yourself, small manageable targets that will make you able to see what you’re actually able to do in day.
Try it – you will be surprised.
Nimble is the one finger cutter that is safe to use and stops the struggle with packaging.
Now as someone who has Cerebral Palsy in all four limbs, opening things is the eternal struggle. From pre-packed sandwiches, to headphones to pretty much anything that arrives via Amazon.
Its a nightmare…
If you are anything like me, you end doing all sorts of odd (and not very safe) things with knives and scissors.
Also you destroy said packaging in the process and should you need to return something, you’ve destroyed one of the things that you need.
Nimble more than solves these problems by offering something that fits on your finger and is safe. The ceramic blade can cut through all those really annoying seals but cannot damage your skin (and I did try).
I found it handy little tool to have me, when I am out and about. If you’re nipping somewhere for sandwich or have to buy something on the go, Nimble makes you more Nimble.
It also saves you the hassle of asking for help…
What’s also nice is that the packaging that Nimble comes in is easy to open because the designer Simon Lyons of Version22 thought about everything.
What can be annoying about Nimble is that is so small, you can loose it and it is one of those things that can be difficult to find in your Day Bag.
This could also be true of actually putting Nimble on, because if have to be able to hold it in something of pincer, and for some people that could be tricky.
Still I would highly recommend it – it is a good product that if you can use it, solves a real problem.
Buy Nimble here.
If you have a condition that affects your feet such as Cerebral Palsy or Plantar Fasciitis, finding footwear that you can feel comfortable with long periods can be quite a trick.
For me as someone who has Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, I always found that I was in discomfort if I stood for long periods or had to climb a lot of stairs.
I had tried a lot of brand name trainers such as Nike and Adidas but nothing made a difference.
For those of you who like to work out, I would also say that I limited myself in the gym because I was worried about the impact on my feet.
That was until…
Asics Gel Kayanos
They are the only piece of footwear that I have ever worn that I can say my feet are totally comfortable in.
Even for long periods of time.
Now they are expensive, ranging from £140 – £160 per pair. You can get cheaper pairs from sites like Sport Shoes, where previous editions are available for less.
From experience, I can also say that they are hard wearing so they are definitely a long term investment. I got a good 2 and half years out of my previous pair and I was wearing them virtually every day.
Asics Gel Kayano’s are the last pair of shoes that you will ever need if you have foot related problems.
Find the full range here.
For a child with physical impairment making a friends as he/she gets older (ages 7 – 12) can be really tough.
This can be a number of reasons such as:
- The other children becoming more active.
- The child’s physical limitations becoming more apparent.
Having a small social circle and maybe not having many activities outside of school can be really troubling for many disabled kids. It can also negatively impact their mental health as well.
So what can you do about it?
First of all, there are number of specialist sports/activities for disabled kids. There can be some travel involved but it can be very worth it.
The great thing about adaptive sport is that it can build your child’s self-confidence and give them a sense of what they can do. This is as well as giving them the opportunity to make friends inside those new groups.
There also some great new organisations such CP Teens UK, which was founded by a teen with CP is a great community for making friends in a safe environment.
Don’t Be Scared About Them Being Online
It can be scary for a parent, there child being online and while there are obvious dangers to it, there are also many positives to be found.
Such as this story – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/disability-47064773
It can be liberating particularly for those who might have severely restricted mobility.
You might worry that your child is too young or that they are spending too much time on a screen, but these are all things that you and your child need to work out together.
Getting personal assistant/carer, can for some parents feel like extra added stress. as it is just something else to manage/ take care of.
However, since the switch to direct payments/personal budgets, there is ever greater flexibility, including many support services for users.
So what are personal budgets?
Direct Payments/Personal Budgets are where your local authority gives you money directly to employ and manage your child’s PAs.
Now as stated above you might be thinking that this just extra added hassle, but it can be the best thing in terms of getting your child out and engaged in activities.
This is because you have the control and you can choose person who fits with your child’s personality. They may have similar interests, be similar in terms of age and this gives your child the chance to have a ‘friend’.
Now it is important to explain to your (if they can understand) that the PA is fulfilling a role. But for many people having a PA is great way to build confidence, communication and social skills.
For Older Kids
There are now a number of charities and social enterprises that specifically cater for ‘older’ kids.
We know Yorkshire a bit better than other places so sorry for the Yorkshire centric examples but please do look in your own area – there will be something!
Dice Doncaster offer a range of events for adults with a disability and their friends – including accessible night club events.
Downs and Special Friends offer specialist events for young people with any kind of learning difficulty across West Yorks.
Stay Up Late – create opportunities for disabled people in the south of England to go out and enjoy gigs.