‘Disability is in society, not me; I have the right to dignity, to develop my potential, to use my qualities and skills.’ NZ Disability Strategy 2001
Disabled people say others’ attitudes and behaviours can be as big a barrier to participating in society as physical and mental barriers. We can all play a part in making the lives of the one in five New Zealanders living with a mental, physical or intellectual impairment, easier.
Upon diagnosis, it is common for parents of a disabled child to feel a range of emotions. There is no ‘right’ way to feel but Dr Rosemary Marks, a paediatrician working in the Developmental Paediatric service at Starship, says her key message to parents is “to value the child for who they are rather than who they are not”. She says the sooner parents can move into ‘positive acceptance’ – accepting the children for who they are and not wanting them to be something different – the easier the relationship and the road will be for both the child and the parents.
Where to go for support:
Parent to Parent offers information and support for families who have a child with a disability, special need or impaired health.
CCS Disability Action offers services and support for anyone with a disability.
The IHC offer advice on living with an intellectual disability.
The NZ Health and Disability Commissioner promotes and protects the rights of consumers who use health and disability services, helps resolve problems between consumers and services and improves the quality of services.
The Office for Disability Issues ensures government keeps faith with the New Zealand Disability Strategy, by promoting the participation and inclusion of disabled people in our society.
Voice Thru Your Hands (featured in our story), is a not-for-profit organisation promoting sign language for hearing children with communication difficulties.