|Photo by Meg Wills|
Britain's not a great place to be if you're disabled at the moment, with the government's Fit to Work scheme asking people who patently can't work to bend over backwards to prove their unemployable status. Take James, who's 19 and has autism, epilepsy, vision impairment and severe learning disabilities. His family's received a string of letters - they got three in four days at one point, which sounds not unlike my own history with Centrelink - threatening to cut his benefits unless they could prove James couldn't work. So, they turned up on the Prime Minister's doorstep and said "right, if you think he can work, give him a job."
Want to go viral? Here are some practical tips, from what to name your masterpiece to where to post it, from Karen X Cheng, whose video Girl learns to dance in a year has had, at time of writing, three and a half million views. That's not quite Psy territory, but it's a damn sight better than the 15 I once had on a Dangermouse fan vid on a Youtube account I've since lost the password for.
Take this with as many grains of salt as you need, but ape shows signs of autism. (From 2011, but I just found it.)
In some pockets of the autism community, it's unfortunately A Thing to take photos or videos of children in meltdown, self harming or otherwise in distress, and put them online to show The True Horror Of Autism. This is never OK. But apparently the same thing also happens in other parents-of-kids-with-disabilities communities. Kara Ayers has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, the affects of which include brittle bones and frequent fractures. She's noticed a disturbing fad for parents to snap a picture of the freshly fractured child - before tending to their injuries:
"...One of these pictures was particularly disturbing. The child was in obvious agony, crying, and her leg was completely unsupported.
"As someone who has experienced this type of fracture, the image triggered memories of actual pain that I could feel in my body. The moments before a broken bone is splinted or at least supported by something are saturated by a level of pain that’s difficult to describe and impossible to just imagine. Even if a photograph required a couple of seconds to snap, that’s two seconds longer than the child needed to suffer for the sake of an image.
"Pictures like these are not isolated to the OI community. Friends with other disabilities share stories of graphic post-op pictures of children wearing little clothing and crying. Close-ups of feeding tubes on the chests of tween girls and videos of children resisting physical therapy are being posted by parents on a relatively frequent basis. The disability community at large must ask the question: What do parents of these images seek to gain?"