I chuckled as I got into Matt’s car. He had a faux number plate sign hanging from his rear view mirror: “D4DS T4X1” it read. Sound familiar?
A few minutes later we were careening down the A1 at breakneck speed. Matt, the Chief Executive of the Family Matters Institute (who run Dadtalk), was driving and we were on our way to talk to a group of nursery providers about the importance of inclusion in mainstream nurseries for disabled children. We were running a little late and I was reviewing Matt’s presentation as we hurtled south to Hatfield.
I looked across at him quizzically, “Are you sure you want to irradiate disability? It seems a little harsh to want to nuke disabled people.”
Matt risked taking his eyes off the blurred road for a second, “No, I want to eradicate disability. I want people to accept disability as another form of diversity that we should embrace. It’s about wanting to change the way we see disabled people, not wanting to change the disabled.”
“Ah,” I said, “Do you want me to change the presentation?”
We got there just in time and stormed into the room of about a hundred women who were just wrapping up the previous session. After a few words from the host, Matt introduced me as a guest speaker.
I got up and spoke for about twenty minutes about what life is like as the parent of a disabled child – the stresses and the strains and the joys and the celebrations. I enthused about how important acceptance and inclusion is for the families of disabled children. To be honest I was preaching to the choir. This group in Hertfordshire instinctively understood the message that I wanted to get across which was that disabled children are an important part of our community and that we all benefit from living side by side with them. Twenty first century Britain has no room for nineteenth century Romanian orphanages.
After a few questions, we were running short of time and unfortunately Matt did not have the chance to go through his presentation. As we got back into Matt’s car to prepare for the journey back home I looked at the sign hanging from the rear view mirror. Because I had overrun it wasn’t just his kids that Matt was ferrying around that day.
“Where to Boss?” He joked as we set off.
“Home James,” I replied.