“I raised Laura by myself, despite my disability”

On May 15th we celebrate the International Day of Families. That's why we talk about people with intellectual disabilities who have kids and raise them with love and care. Find out more in these two interviews!

``I raised Laura by myself, despite my disability.`` Parents with intellectual disabilities talk about their experience

On May 15th we celebrate the International Day of Families.

That’s why we talk about people with intellectual disabilities who have kids and raise them with love and care.
Here you can find two interviews with parents with intellectual disabilities talking about their life and relationship with their children.

Thank you to Inclusion asbl for supporting us in reaching out to these parents, and thanks to the Service d’accompagnement Edelweiss
for being our intermediary.

Happy International Day of Families!

Michel and Vanessa, Belgium

 

Please tell us about your daughter. How old is she?

Michel: Laura is now 14 years old.


Have you always known that you wanted to have children?

Michel: No, I wasn’t thinking about it at all. Laura came by surprise: It was the first time that I lived with a partner.


How did you raise Laura?

Michel:  Unfortunately my partner and I split up and I raised Laura by myself, despite my disability: I can neither read nor write.
For one year Laura and I have lived in a community centre, and I was the only man there. I did everything I could to make sure that Laura wouldn’t miss out on anything.
Afterwards I met Vanessa, and now we take care of Laura together.


How do you spend time with Laura?

Michel and Vanessa: When Laura is not at the boarding school she attends, we buy groceries together, or we visit her grandparents. If the weather is nice, Laura rides her bike or we go for walks. We also take part at local festivities, and sometimes Laura helps us prepare our meals. During the holidays, Laura takes part in different workshops: dancing, cooking, roller blading, cycling … and the three of us go to the seaside. The support service helps us do these things.

Vanessa: I play board games and do some handicraft activities with her. When it’s time for bed we cuddle.
We also talk about girl stuff: I answer questions that she wouldn’t ask to her dad.
When she doesn’t behave well, it’s me who deals with that. I think Michel is too permissive.


What kind of support do you receive?

Michel and Vanessa: We live in a flat managed by the support service Edelweiss, and they help us in case of need. We can also count on our family to take care of Laura if for any reason we cannot be there.


Do you talk to Laura about your disability?

Michel: Yes, I tell her that I can neither read nor write. She doesn’t understand why I have a disability. At the special school she attends they also talk about disabilities.


Have you ever been discriminated against?

Vanessa: I do different activities within the community: I attend a music academy, I take Zumba classes, I go to the gym, I do volunteering. I have never had any problem.

Michel and Vanessa with Laura

Ludovic, Belgium

 

Tell us about your child. How old is he?

Ludovic: I have a boy called Alexis, he is 6.

Have you always known that you wanted to have children?

Yes, I knew I wanted children, but he arrived by surprise. I wasn’t prepared, but I adapted. Alexis is my little soldier, he listens to me.

How do you spend time with Alexis?

During the week, Alexis attends boarding school. When he is at home, we play board games with different characters, like “Who is this?”. Sometimes he cheats!
When he behaves well I let him play with the play station. We also talk about boy stuff, how his body is going to change. Often we visit our family.


What kind of support do you receive?

We are supported by the Edelweiss service and by my mother.


Do you talk to your child about your disability?

No, Alexis is still too young. I am the model father to him, he doesn’t realise [that I have a handicap]. In future, if he asks me questions and I don’t know the answer, I will do some internet research.


Have you ever been discriminated against?

When it comes to working, unfortunately I’m not even given a chance: It’s always a straight “no”.

Ludvic and Alexis with Sabrina, Alexis' mom
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