Today I met with a woman called Margaret who lives in Edinburgh. She got in contact through a learning disability organisation and was keen to talk to me about her son who was born in 1965 with Down’s Syndrome.
I went along with my dictaphone and we chatted for about 3 hours. Her story is fascinating and exciting as it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. We covered lots of ground including attitudes when her son was born, the various provision that was on offer, the fear and worry of her and her husband. It was also interesting to talk to her about her more recent experiences – the fact that the biggest struggle in maintaining her son’s care and provision came only this year with threatened cuts to his support. I think this is a timely, relevant area to focus on. Thankfully her story is a positive one with little prejudice, but still sheds light on the complexities of the topic.
So together with her story and a chat I had with a woman from Enable, I’m starting to get to grips with the focus of the piece – the stories of parents affected by issues of disability and how to present them to an audience. Also positioning the modern attitudes with those of the past – an appealing exploration.
Another angle I’m looking at is the realisation that this generation – parents who had children in the 60s and earlier – are dying out and sadly their stories with them. If I can collect their stories and give them a voice then maybe we won’t forget what it meant to be disabled in Scotland in our recent past.
So tomorrow is going to be about putting this on paper – and how to present it theatrically.