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This Morning Guest: ‘If Learning Disabled Son Was A Dog, I’d Have Him Put Down’

May 21, 2013

Readers, I absolutely can’t believe this. I don’t have the words to describe my feelings.

As a person who has been disabled since birth, I have heard of many people who have said crazy things about disabled children.

I was shocked in 2009, when I heard what Jeffrey Marshall said after the sad death of Ivan Cameron.

Virginia Ironside’s comments about disabled children on Sunday Morning Live in 2010 made me very angry and upset.

I cried and screamed at my radio in 2011, when I first heard the opinions of Claire Khaw on disabled children.

I was shocked and upset yet again this year, by Cornwall councillor Collin Brewer who said something terrible about disabled children and then recently made it worse.

Readers, all those people will always make me angry, upset and shocked- because their views are outdated, and because they are in public attention and should know that outdated views should be kept to themselves on screen, on air and in print.

However, readers, I never, even in my worst nightmares, thought I would hear a parent of a disabled child say, on national TV, that if her son was a dog, she would have him put down.

Jenny Young was told she had ADHD in her mid-forties. She has four children, two now in their twenties, one 19, and one 10, who all have the condition. The 10 year old, Ryan, also has severe learning disabilities and ‘the mental age of a two-year-old.’

He is often violent towards Jenny, who says he bites, scratches and punches her and can knock her glasses off. She says his behaviour is ‘unpredictable.’

Jenny told ITV’s This Morning today that if Ryan was her husband, they would have been divorced by now.

She added that because she is Ryan’s mother, and ‘not a pet owner’ she has to ‘put up’ with his behaviour. If Ryan was a dog, she said, she would have him put down.

She said she used the shocking example of putting a dog down because she has a family member who went through the ‘traumatic experience’ of having their dog euthanised after they could not control its violence.

She said the family who put the dog down went through a ‘horrendous, traumatic experience,’ and ‘worked really, really hard and did everything they could possibly do’ for the dog before they made the choice to have her put down.

She added ’I don’t liken Ryan and the dog exactly but there is a choice. When you have a dog that behaves [violently] and might attack you any minute, you have a choice.’

She went on to say that there is ‘no choice’ for parents of children like Ryan and that ‘there isn’t a refuge for battered mums.’

I know many other disabled people both online and offline. I know many parents of disabled people, two of them being my own.

Parents of disabled children do not have easy lives. Everyone knows that- including their children, whether they can express this knowledge verbally or not. Parent carers need a lot of support, and they deserve all the support they can get.

I understand Jenny Young’s situation, and I hope she gets appropriate support for herself and Ryan.

However, as a disabled ‘child,’ my first reaction is to feel sad and sorry for Ryan, who, like all children with similar disabilities, cannot help his violent outbursts- because his mother has described him in such a shocking way on national television.

While I understand Jenny’s frustrations, I cannot understand her use of the shocking example of putting down a dog. I would like to say to Jenny Young, and all parent carers out there, that comparing disabled children and their lives to animals and the lives of animals never helps anything.

Comments like these will only make disabled people, and their parents, strongly dislike you.

Disabled people are not dogs. We are not ‘deformed lambs’ whatever Collin Brewer and the farmers in his area would have us believe.

Getting the mainstream world to believe that we are not animals has been a long, difficult and painful struggle for disabled people in the UK.

After all our battles and struggles, if our own parents start comparing us to animals, on national television no less, then how can we blame Jeffrey Marshall, Virginia Ironside,  Claire Khaw, and Collin Brewer- and any other public figures who might agree with them- for revealing their outdated opinions on disabled children?

If our own parents start comparing us to animals on national television, then what hope do we ever have of convincing the wider mainstream public that we are intelligent people with opinions who deserve equal rights in all areas of society?

One Comment leave one →
  1. BazsMum permalink
    May 24, 2013 1:21 pm

    I am thinking social services should pay her a visit because that child does not sound safe

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