I encounter an access barrier dressing my young child on a daily basis. I have Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), which means I can not walk or stand for any length of time. I get out of breath really easily, and mornings are the time I am most symptomatic. I am not eligible for any support to dress and get my four-year-old ready for preschool, even though, if I needed assistance dressing or feeding myself, I would be eligible for it under personal care.
The care I do for my child does not count. Like most four-year-olds, my child is not independent. When getting ready in the morning, I give her significant assistance by preparing breakfast, feeding her breakfast, dressing her and giving her medication. Also, like most four-year-olds, she is uncooperative and high energy! I am physically unable to perform all these tasks, which leaves me having to ask her ECE teachers for support. I don’t understand how I am eligible for support for my own personal care, but not for the care of my child, which is my responsibility as a parent.
This morning I wasn’t able to give my child her medication. My POTS and essential tremor makes it very difficult to pour out medication doses. Also, I am unable to physically restrain my small child to give her the medication. I was not physically able to brush her teeth well this morning either. These sort of incidents occur on a daily basis.
I send my child to preschool without her basic cares completed, and have to ask the teachers there to assist me. This makes me feel inadequate as a parent, as I am unable to physically care for my child. I am, however, very grateful for the support I receive from her child care centre.
I want legislation that ensures supports are provided according to need - not just my own needs but also those for whom I have responsibilities.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.