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A hint of dawn through a dark night for Allowah hospital

A hint of dawn through a dark night for Allowah hospital

Before we look at how God may use our chaotic democracy to bring a more just society, especially for children with disabilities, I need to open up on a disturbing family secret.

For some reason, my kids are a thousand times sweeter than I ever was. When I was a young teen, I openly mocked people with disabilities with my friends. We thought it was damn funny.

One day, in the car with our mother, one of us role-played an intellectually disabled boy, a character we called “Ricky.” Everyone laughed. Except mum. A gentle woman, she exploded with rage.

Later that day, we learnt that my mother had a brother. He had been kept from us, living in a state-run facility on an island in the Hawkesbury River. He lived with an intellectual disability. And his name happened to be Ricky.

It was the mother of all coincidences. For us kids, that moment redirected our lives. In some ways, the shame never left us. Over time, moral pressure and love led us all to connect with our uncle Ricky, driven by my sister.

One of our happiest times as a whole family was taking a weekender in the Hunter Valley with all our young children, our mum and dad, our aunt and cousins, and sharing it all with Ricky; our children tucking him into bed with his toothless smile. Once we had pretended he didn’t exist. Now he was the centre of attention.

Ricky affected our working lives too. My sister is now a senior executive working in disability policy. My brother started his career as a psychologist working in an employment agency for people with disabilities. Me? I’ve had a career in advertising and government relations: leaving me with unresolved tension. Partly guilt. Partly wanting to see that people with disabilities are honoured in a way that we had failed to.

If it wasn’t for Allowah providing care one or two days a week … they don’t think their families would hold together.

Recently, I got my big chance. Allowah Presbyterian Children’s Hospital contacted me. Just north of Parramatta, they’re the only hospital in NSW and, I think, Australia, dedicated to caring for children with complex disabilities. Toddlers and tweens who live with intellectual disabilities and are extremely vulnerable to health problems. In other words, children like Ricky.

As Eternity covered in Rebecca Abbott’s excellent article, what makes Allowah special is the way they don’t just provide medical care and disability supports for kids like Ricky — they help the families. The mothers I’ve spoken to at the hospital say the same thing. If it wasn’t for Allowah providing care one or two days a week, helping them with NDIS forms, sharing skills on how to provide the care their child needs — they don’t think their families would hold together.

I think of my grandmother and grandfather, taking Ricky home from hospital after he was born, and slowly coming to the point of crisis — the realisation that there was no way they could meet his needs. A realisation that, eventually, led…

Read Full Story At: Eternity News.

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