It was an absolute pleasure to be involved at the 44th Naidex event held in Birmingham. So many people were there to better understand disability, from occupational therapists, to doctors, but most importantly, people with conditions themselves: individuals with MS, or cerebral palsy, wished to learn from one another, too.

We're in control

What was great to see was people living with a disability were actually in control – people from all professions were learning from us, and not the other way around! Seeing so many things, from bidets to budget wheelchairs, personal alarms to powered wheelchairs, there was something for everyone!

Keeping with the musical analogies from my last blog, Nik Kershaw’s song “wouldn’t it be good,” springs to mind. The song is really a two-sided dialogue: ‘us and them,’ with many disabled individuals wondering if “...the grass is greener over there.” Well I can tell you, Naidex felt anything but that – everyone was learning from one another, wishing to know what it is like to be in our shoes.

Smashing the glass ceiling

At Naidex, we (Ataxia UK) were lucky enough to educate others and after the second day, many of us were probably echoing Simply Red’s 80’s release, “If you don’t know me by now.” With better education, it’s hoped that ataxia will become as understood as the common cold, or a broken leg. Gone will be that bigotry that blighted minority groups in the 1980’s!

What have I learnt from Naidex? The amount of things out there which attempt to make the daily  challenges of living with a disability into just mere inconveniences. Let’s not hide from the fact that disability remains an ‘awkward’ thing to discuss, and that the glass-wall theory still applies today, where disabled people wish to do what it takes to be a part of Duran Duran’s ‘Ordinary World:’ a life that’s taken in a new direction, but a life that’s worth learning to survive in.

Living with ataxia and any disability may seem restrictive; living with a disability can seem very personal at times. To end on an analogy, the M-People’s 1994 song ‘search for a hero’ and the lyrics within the song are so appropriate; ‘search for a hero inside yourself, until you find the key to your life!’ With the help of Naidex, we can achieve great things, and break those glass walls!