This morning I was trying to trace our AWOL Olympic tickets. In less than two weeks we are supposed to be travelling into town for a once in a lifetime experience to be a part of London 2012 and watch the world’s best weightlifters and equestrians do their thing. But while I sat on hold to the Olympic ticket line, I realised that even if our tickets ever reach us, they are probably redundant, on the basis that I have no idea how we will get there, or get in to any of the venues, with Orange in tow.
The Get Ahead of the Games travel advice website gave us this little nightmare to negotiate, involving a train, a walk, a bus, a walk, a tube, a walk, a DLR ride and another walk. This will be next to impossible with a 3 year old and a 1 year old, let alone one who is too heavy to carry and can’t even sit up, let alone walk.
And should we manage that little assault course, we then have a seating conundrum when we arrive at the venue. Buggies are not allowed and must be left at the door which, regardless of the fact that leaving something that cost over £500 for anyone to help themselves to makes me feel deeply uneasy, it creates somewhat of a problem for us with Orange. He cannot sit up. He has to be supported at all times. He can sit on a lap for a little while, but soon becomes uncomfortable and needs the space and comfort of his buggy seat. It is a real challenge to carry or hold him for any length of time because his whole body is so floppy. In the crudest terms, it’s like transporting a wriggling, writhing, sand bag.
If he had a Blue Badge we could apply for a disabled parking space so we could drive there, get help on the train, or some kind of assistance with special seating at the venue. But he won’t be eligible for one of those until he turns three at the very earliest, that’s 20 months away.
So we are stuck in yet another no man’s land – between ‘normal baby’ and ‘disabled child’, that is getting ever harder as he gets bigger and heavier. It seems there is no help for those who have toddlers with accessibility requirements and the burden of responsibility lies firmly and literally on the parents’ backs. There is a lot of lifting and carrying involved when you have a child who isn’t mobile. Orange is still so young, he doesn’t have ‘disabled rights’ (however limited they might be), but getting about, and into places is getting harder and harder.
Simple things like going to the supermarket. Yes they have trolleys with child seats, yes they have trolleys with wheelchair clamps. But Orange can’t use either. He is too floppy to sit in the child seat, and too small to be in a wheelchair. So basically I can’t go. I am reliant on food delivery, or being able to walk to a shop with Orange in the buggy.
I’m assuming I’m not the only one facing this particular little challenge with a disabled child under three. And yet there is very little acknowledgement that this is an issue, or any help available to struggling parents. Perhaps I’m just missing a trick, and there’s a way round this problem, but it seems right now very much like, once again, we don’t fit the ‘tick boxes’ and so are left to fight our own corner.