1: The Very Beginning
I always thought that I had a pretty normal childhood. I went to school, played sports, spent time with friends etc.
Although looking back now, normal probably wasn’t the case as my mum developed Multiple Sclerosis (MS) soon after I was born.
MS is a degenerative illness that effects the body’s nerves. In my mothers case she slowly lost control of her motor skills, her legs, arms and more recently her speech.
Unlike my brother and sister who were at home and who were primary care givers a lot of the time, I went to a boarding school and only came home during the holidays. I did feel guilty that my siblings had to do most of the caring while I was away but I did try to do as much as I could when I was home.
School was my way of getting away, I had this almost completely separate life where I could just be me. I was involved with a number of sports at school. One of the best things about boarding school is they try and wear the children out with activities. (At least that’s what it felt like).
Having a mother in a wheelchair definitely made me view things differently, I am sure, to how my friends did. Disability was already a normality in my life, I wasn’t stumped when confronted with disability as I’ve experienced some people do with me now. I wasn’t in a chair yet myself but I was already looking at things, especially buildings from an accessibility perspective.
I was reasonably sporty throughout high school and my first year at university, but had honestly not taken any notice of disability sport. I knew it existed, but not the extent of it, the number of sports and range of disabilities, at this stage I certainly had no idea how much of a big part it would play in my life…