I feel like I’m going in the right direction – Felix’s story

Twenty-five year-old Felix, from East London, recently completed First Impressions, First Experiences, a pre-employment course for young disabled job-seekers. In this guest post for Learning Disability Week, Felix explains how employers’ attitudes need to change, and the importance of role-models for young disabled people. 

Felix blog
Felix is optimistic about his future career

When people think of disabled people they usually think of somebody who’s using a wheelchair. If they took their blinders off, they would realise that there’s so much more to it than that.

The first thing we need is for employers to be educated about disability.

But the other thing is for disabled candidates to strike up the confidence to tell the employer: “This is my condition, this is the support I need”. I feel like I can do that now.

First Impressions, First Experiences

Before I joined First Impressions, I was working for a firm in East London. It didn’t go well, and I realised that while my Asperger’s syndrome isn’t something I should be ashamed of, it’s not something I can just ignore. I needed some support.

Doing things like CVs and interviewing techniques has been very useful. I’ve learnt things I hadn’t even heard about, like how to disclose that you’re disabled in a positive way. First Impressions also set up a work placement for me in an office, and from my first day there I knew it was going to be a good experience.

I wasn’t just left in one place – I was in marketing, HR, IT and the general office, so I got the chance to experience different areas and juggle different things.

I definitely feel I could do that kind of job now – I can pick up the phone and talk appropriately, I can sort through mail, I can do admin and so on. But my ideal career option would be a job which enables young people to realise their potential.

Felix sitting at a boardroom table talking to an employment advisor
Felix talking with a Scope employment advisor

What I’ve learned over the past six months

You can’t compare yourself to everybody else. Can you imagine how bland and boring the world would be if everybody was the same? Everybody brings something new to the table.

You may feel that the world doesn’t understand you, but it doesn’t mean that you have to let your life go downhill.

But you do need guidance, and this is where mentoring and ongoing support becomes handy as well.

Having role models is good too – you see someone like Nick Hamilton, the racing driver who has cerebral palsy, and you realise that what you want to do is possible, you just need to go about it the right way.

I feel that what I’ve learnt from First Impressions I can build on in the future.

I’m working towards being in employment. I’ll have to be tough, because I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I feel like I’m going in the right direction.

Find out more about Scope’s employment programmes.

Disability innovations: If I can fly a plane, what else can I do?

Plane in the air while flying - text says "Anyone can fly"

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

What is Aerobility?

Aerobility is a charity that offers disabled people of all ages, without exception, the chance to fly an aeroplane. They offer once in a lifetime trial flying sessions for people who are disabled or terminally ill. These sessions are just £60 – making it much cheaper than an average Red Letter Day flight experience for a non-disabled person! As well as trial flights, they also offer flight training to obtain a private pilot’s licence, simulator sessions, aircraft hire and are the representative body in the UK for disabled aviation.

Who can fly?

Their general rule is that as long as you can move something then you can fly, regardless of your impairment. With over 20 years’ experience and run largely by disabled aviators themselves, they claim they teach anyone who wants to learn to fly. They have developed and adapted special planes equipped with hoists and other assistive technology solutions, to cater to any disability or impairment, from mobility issues to sensory problems. They are based at several airfields across the UK including Blackbushe, Tatenhill in the Midlands and Prestwick in Scotland, but also fly from other bases on temporary detachment.

Aerobility believe that flying can have a huge impact on people’s confidence and self-esteem, can be a really inspirational experience, and can even change their view of disability forever: “If I can fly a plane, what else can I do?”

Why we like it

We love how Aerobility is truly inclusive and makes the once in a lifetime experience of flying a plane both physically and financially accessible to everyone. Their positivity and can do approach is inspiring and their focus on ability makes a welcome change from hearing about what disabled people can’t do!

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

To tell us about a Disability Innovation, please email innovation@scope.org.uk

My dream is to be accepted at school – #100days100stories

Guest post from Chloe, a secondary school student who has mild cerebral palsy which affects the left side of her body. She has shared her story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign

When you are at school it can be hard to know what to say to people. People react to my medical list – which includes mild cerebral palsy – very differently, but this is what I want them all to know.

chloe
Chloe’s splint that helps her walk

The worst thing about having a disability is that people see it before they see you – before they get the chance to know you. I haven’t even opened my mouth yet and I know they have preconceived ideas about me. But that’s okay. I guess if you have something different from others then it is bound to happen. I mean, the stares, they are normal. It’s not every day you see a splint. That’s part of human nature, I can live with that.

It’s the glares of disbelief  that are upsetting. What you see is a tiny part of me. A tiny part of what makes me and my personality but also a tiny part of my medical list. Pain. Pain is invisible to the outside world, but perfectly visible to me on a daily basis.  I’m a part-time wheelchair user. A reluctant part-time wheelchair user at that. I may joke and say “Oh, it’s because I’m lazy” but that’s probably because it’s easier. It’s easier than saying you are in chronic pain, no one wants to hear that, people just want to know things are getting better.

Can I just say, I hate using my chair. It’s the last resort. For me it traps me and can leave me out of control, shows I have given up and can’t go on. If I am in my chair it doesn’t mean that I can no longer walk. It means the pain has become too much to manage – like someone screaming in your ears. Yet I’m still expected to concentrate in lessons and work. It means that fatigue is swallowing me up and not letting go.

Throughout high school my dream was to be accepted because I didn’t see the point in changing for anyone. I believe I am very close to it and for that I am eternally grateful. However another one of my dreams has been to dance in the school show – something I am yet to fulfill. You see, I used to dance, before the diagnosis list got out of hand. In my earlier years I was shy and reserved, something that doesn’t really fit my personality anymore. But now the barriers include my pain, fatigue and reduced mobility. I guess it’s something else I need to come to terms with.

I am constantly reminded about how positive and smiley I am. I’d agree, I am. Although a smile can hide anything you want. It can also make things easier to deal with. Being happy is a lot more fun in my opinion, it also makes others believe that things are all good.  I believe 100 percent that things could be worse. For me everything is normal. Normal is whatever you are used to. I also know it’s possible to live in pain and not just survive. It is possible to create the most amazing memories and achieve the highest possible.

Read more posts from Chloe on her blog.

Find out more about our campaign and read our 100 stories so far.