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My disability can mean my son is late for school. Fining me solves nothing

Feb 14, 2018 by

Photo by Matt Artz on Unsplash

Michelle Harris I live with chronic pain. Policymakers should help parents like me, not punish us

Am I a bad mother because my son misses the morning register sometimes? The odds that I find myself up against certainly make it seem so, as I am being taken to court by my local authority. While I was taught to be respectful of other people’s time and would like to teach my son the same, sometimes it’s not that easy.

I have a condition called pseudoachondroplasia. This means I have restricted growth. Standing at 3ft 6in, I have misalignments of my knee and hip joints and a curvature of the spine. All of this significantly affects my mobility.

Sadly, the lateness doesn’t reflect my efforts. Some mornings I limp from my bed to the car, push through the pain and apologetically arrive flustered and anxious at my son’s school gate at 9:15am. The resulting late marks from missing the morning register have added up and my attempts at an appeal have been turned down.

A £410 fine later, I will find myself in front of a magistrate next week for an expensive slap on the wrist. Despite his being about 10-15 minutes late some days, my son’s attendance is very good and he is achieving well. I am a single mother with no support network and the little family we do have all work full-time.

The fine feels extremely unfair. Is it going to alleviate me of my physical limitations? It is far more likely to drag us further away from a solution by infringing considerably on my mobility costs.

I am not arguing that there should be one rule for me and another for everybody else, nor am I wanting sympathy. This is simply the reality for many single parents who live with a disability. For many, this topic is dangerous territory for fear of being accused of “playing the card” and for fear of the assumption we’re not “coping”. After all, much of our battle for equality has been based around the insistence that wider society acknowledges our abilities.

Source: My disability can mean my son is late for school. Fining me solves nothing | Michelle Harris | Opinion | The Guardian

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