Why didn’t I know?

    I have just returned from an inspiring, and informative meeting
    at a local residential college for disabled young people. As I
    drove away I pulled into the side of the road and howled. I howled
    with grief and rage because I had not known about this place.

    It is less than five miles away from my house and I had not
    known about it when it might have helped my son Robbie. He killed
    himself three years ago because he could not cope with trying to be
    “normal” any longer in society when his disabilities made him feel
    so different that life felt intolerable to him.

    This college could have helped both him and us as a family deal
    with the many difficulties that Robbie’s condition and personality
    produced, but we were in ignorance of it and what it might have
    provided.

    I toured the building seeing the many facilities that my boy
    would have loved – especially the theatre, gym and swimming pool.
    In my mind’s eye I could see his enthusiasm and his whole-hearted
    involvement with it all. I saw the caring staff engaging with the
    students and imagined Robbie exasperating them in his incorrigible
    way and yet drawing their care and attention, seeing him kicking
    against the boundaries and being held firm within them.

    I saw a future he can never have now and I blazed at myself for
    not having found this place and I blazed at all the professionals
    along Robbie’s 22-year journey who failed to direct us there.

    This is not the first time recently that I have come across
    facilities that existed but were not made known to my family when
    we needed them. What makes it worse is that my experience is not
    unique; wherever specialist knowledge and provision is required it
    seems a common occurence.

    Why is help and information so randomly come by? We live in an
    age of technological wizardry with a colossal amount of information
    about all number of things.

    Yes, I am angry. I am enraged by the waste of Robbie’s and his
    quality of life and I am further enraged as I see it being repeated
    in other families’ lives. I cannot bring Robbie back but I do have
    a friend with a disabled son who also lives locally and also does
    not know of this college’s facilities. Maybe, just maybe, he can be
    helped by this knowledge.

    Anyone involved with the care of disabled people – whoever they
    may be – must work with the assumption that somewhere, somehow
    there are the facilities that can bring hope and practical help to
    the situation that they are in.

    It takes persistence, determination, networking, recording,
    communicating and – in the last resort – creating facilities where
    they do not exist. There are ways forward in this society for those
    who suffer due to the rough hand they have been dealt with in life.
    We all have a responsibility to make them known.

    Judy Clinton’s son, Robbie, had cerebral
    palsy.

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