Telling Our Own Stories: Reflections on Family Life in a Disabling World

Edited by Pippa Murray and Jill Penman.

Parents With Attitude


ISBN 0 952 6864 2 2

Pippa Murray and Jill Penman’s book comes about through their
own experience of living with and learning about impairment and
disability. They have collected an impressive range of reflections
from contributors under three main themes: stories from the past;
stories of people and the system; and stories of personal
reflection. These are presented as poems, pictures, letters and

Disabled people and families with a range of experiences and of
all ages contribute. There are recurring themes; for example
friendships and relationships, and how important they are.

Doris Clark writes about her circle of friends and support and
says: “My life before Circles was isolating and lonely.” Maressa
MacKeith writes about how much it helps to have people who know
about her and what she needs and she writes that, “we must all
assume all kids talk inside themselves”.

The whole spectrum of emotions about being in families is here.
Hilary Gilhooley describes being a “taut spring, ready to snap”
because of her family holding her back.

A parent writes about the emotional roller-coaster of going to
McDonald’s with her disabled daughter to get a milkshake and
sensing the fear that other people feel about this child whom she
adores. Another theme is education and inclusion and we get the
experiences of both students and parents.

I really liked this book, which is a good companion to Let
Our Children Be
, published some while ago by Parents with
Attitude. There is no sense that it has to be read it in any
particular order. I enjoyed reading a poem and then going
to an entirely different part of the book to look at a drawing or

David Abbott is a researcher, Norah Fry Research Centre,
University of

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