Last week’s blog talked about the challenges I’ve faced getting my little boy from A to B as a disabled mum. With some creative thinking, we’ve managed to get out and about locally, visiting friends and family. However, going any further has presented bigger challenges which aren’t so easily resolved.
Since the age of 13, I’ve been regularly going over to Ireland by myself to visit family and friends. I’ll never forget that first time, when Mum entrusted me into the care of the airport staff, with my uncle waiting to meet me in the Arrivals Hall of Dublin Airport. I felt so grown up, travelling all by myself! It’s something I began taking for granted, as airports are obliged to provide support for disabled travellers.
That was until Jack arrived. As he grew bigger and Dean returned to contracting, I thought I’d be able to pop home for long weekends and half-term breaks, once Jack started at school. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be as I discovered that the airlines didn’t allow disabled travellers to travel with minors. Well, technically I could book the tickets and not declare that I need support until arrival at the airport but even for me, pushing boundaries as I do, I’d fear I’d be on very dodgy ground!
So the first time this came up, we decided Dean would fly over with us and then return home for work. Two weeks later, darling hubby drove back over to Ireland to bring Jack and I home. On other occasions, we’ve managed to work things so that Jack and I travel over with Dean and then return with my parents or sister. As you can imagine, this takes planning and I find myself having to fit into other people’s plans, rather than making my own. It has obviously been more expensive and on occasions, I’ve had to miss family events because Dean is working and there’s nobody to travel with.
Whilst in some respects, I accept these limitations as a disabled mum, it is frustrating that it has kerbed my independence! I know that, God forbid, in the case of emergency, Jack and I would need assistance but on the other hand, I don’t think the airlines, like much of society, have considered that yes, disabled people do have children!! What if I was a single parent wanting to take my child away on holiday? Would I have to wait until Jack was 11 to do what the majority of parents take for granted?
Whilst it’s not a huge problem, it’s something I didn’t think of when I was considering all the challenges I would face as a disabled parent and once again, we’ve had to think in a different way to other parents.
I wonder whether airlines and businesses as a whole, could consider ways that they can support people like me, thus raising awareness that disabled people are parents too? Maybe offering a £20 chaperone service which would be cheaper and easier than the arrangements we currently have to make, would be a start!