A fantastic programme broadcast by Radio 4.
In 'Caring Too Much' Julie Fernandez, a disabled actress best
known for her role in The Office as the'Woman in a Wheelchair',
explores the complex relationship between disabled child and parent
For the broadcast, Julie interviews parents on a Partners in Policymaking
course held in the North West about their experiences as well
Tomlinson from In Control.
Julie has brittle bone disease and Julie's mother cared for her
through more than 70 operations and considerable pain. Always
strict, she made Julie help with housework even when encased in
full body plaster, fought to get her into a boarding school and
encouraged her independence. So Julie was not prepared for what
happened when she left home to get married. For several months her
mother wouldn't speak to her.
Inspired by her experience Julie undertakes a personal journey
into what happens when parents care too much? Funny, frank and very
challenging she talks to parents and their adult dependent children
when as one mother put it 'two become one.'
She explores the different issues for parents of children with
physical disabilities compared to those with learning difficulties.
Jenny's story is typical: she is 68 and still caring for
47-year-old Simon who is autistic and has schizophrenia. "I have
never stopped to think have I missed out, because I haven't missed
out on Simon, he's lovely..its a privilege to have had him."
However desperate the individual circumstances parents echo this
sentiment again and again.
But the issues around separation are complex. One mother whose
27-year-old son requires round the clock care confessed that the
year he left home to start a job in London was the worst of her
life. It caused her profound grief, despite her pride at his
achieving all she had dreamed of for him, and more.
Finally Julie returns to her mother to reflect on their
experiences anew. Their journey also involved seemingly
insurmountable obstacles but was overcome by courage and love.
The broadcast can be listened to on the BBC website.