Ep. 70: Accessibility and Ableism w/ Vanessa McLeod




Request Transcript


At only 2.5 years old, Ivy has already faced discrimination based on her disability. In this episode, her mom Vanessa McLeod shares what that’s been like for her to advocate to give her daughter everything she deserves in life. She talks about the ableism they’ve encountered, and her blazing confidence that Ivy will live a fulfilled life.

She insists again and again that her daughter’s disability is not sad at all—it’s wonderful.

Episode Transcript

Vanessa McLeod  0:00 

Ivy doesn't have special needs. She has needs just like every other child does, and she deserves to have those needs met.


Madeline Cheney  0:07 

Hello, you're listening to the rare life. I'm your host Madeline Cheney and today we have Vanessa McLeod with her special topic episode about ableism and accessibility from her perspective as a parent. Now, I would like to first give an extra special welcome to those tuning in for the first time or one of the first times I'm genuinely very happy you are here. After enjoying this episode, I welcome you to browse whatever other episodes look interesting and meaningful to you. And bingeing the episodes is always allowed. As you may or may not know I always encourage you to listen to the story episode first as they are kind of a part one and part two of sorts. But for this one it is especially important Vanessa's story episode was very much a precursor for this episode, so if you haven't caught it yet, pause this one. Listen to Episode 69 and then come right back and finish this episode. You'll be glad you did. In this episode, Vanessa shares the many hurdles she faced in enrolling her daughter Ivy in preschool. We talk about how much more accessible society is to non disabled people and children than their disabled counterparts. We dig into ableism and the ways that ableism contributes to the issues of inaccessibility. Vanessa's confidence in Ivy's ability to have a wonderful life full of ambition and fulfill dreams is contagious. And I really hope you can feel that. Now as a disclaimer of sorts. Just as with any episode, I just want to point out and remind everyone listening that every circumstance, every child, every family, every diagnosis is unique. So our conversation may or may not reflect your exact situation or opinion. But I am 100% confident that there is much to be learned from this episode. So without further ado, let's get to the conversation.


Madeline Cheney  2:16 

 Hi, Vanessa, welcome back to the show.


Vanessa McLeod  2:19 

Thank you. Thanks for having me again.


Madeline Cheney  2:21 

You're so welcome. So in our first episode, for anyone who is listening, they probably noticed this, we definitely touched on and dove right into the topic of ableism, which has a whole lot to do with your special topic all about accessibility. And we're going to talk about this in context of how you've experienced as Ivy's mom, in these years, and how you've recently kind of come up against it. So first, I would love to maybe we should done this in the first episode, but I would love for you to kind of define what ableism means to you.


Vanessa McLeod  2:59 

Yeah, um, this is definitely something that I have had to learn and, you know, put the time into learning this and just just listening to those in the disability community about what it truly means. Because I know that my perspective is limited. But basically ableism is discrimination against somebody because of their disability, or because of the way they're born. And it's, you know, viewing their life as less, because they were born different.


Madeline Cheney  3:28 

Awesome. I agree. I think like, as parents, a lot of us are just kind of like sitting back and reading. You know, I think for both of us on Instagram different disabled adult to talk about this topic. And at the same time, I feel like we do have a unique spin on it as parents because we are not the disabled people. We are advocating for our disabled children. Yeah. And so you know, it is it's a different flavor. I think it's a different flavor of advocacy and ableism.


Vanessa McLeod  3:58 

Yeah, I feel like it's a fine line sometimes because you never want to speak for a marginalized community. You never want to speak for someone who's disabled, you want to listen to them and hear what they are saying because they have the lived experience. But when it's a minor, and when you're the guardian of that minor, you have to speak for them sometimes. So it's a really interesting mix of, okay, connecting with other disabled adults and listening to them, but then also having to speak for a disabled child. It's a very fine line.


Madeline Cheney  4:34 

Yeah, I think you explained that really well. And a lot of people you know, that are listening right now have children who are disabled to the point where they may never speak for themselves. And so that again, adds a really interesting layer. I know that for both you and her me and our situations. We are also modeling for our children. we're advocating for them right now. Well, they can't really advocate for themselves at home. Teaching them something they do like self advocacy. And then there's also the group of parents, like I mentioned, who will continually be their child's advocate. Yeah. So I would love to chat about, I know this is like gotten you a little bit of publicity, like in your hometown and stuff. But I would love to have you explain your first big barrier to accessibility for Ivy in the form of preschool and access to the education she deserves.


Vanessa McLeod  5:30 

Yeah, this has been tricky. And I feel like there's a lot of different layers to it. But at the end of the day, I do have an older daughter, and I put her in preschool. And I want to give Ivy that exact same opportunity because why wouldn't die. So, you know, the first step was kind of talking to our team, we see a team at a local Child Development Center, she sees a physiotherapist, they're an occupational therapist, we have an infant development consultant, and we pediatrician. So you know, I first kind of spoke with them about it, because they've been involved in her development. And I just kind of said, you know, like, I think she's ready for preschool, like she's already so fiercely independent and determined. And she sees her big sister go off to school, and she's asking to go to school. And they were so on board with it, they think that it's going to be amazing for her, they think that she's gonna just kill it. Like, you know, they know her well enough to know that she really doesn't have any limits. But I was quickly told by them, that NBC, there is very limited funding for support workers, for preschoolers. So they will put me on a waitlist when she's three. But what limited funding there is, is limited for four year olds, so I can go on waitlist at three, but I'm not going to get it. And again, they'll put me on waitlist when she's four. And there's no guarantee that we'll get it because the funding is so limited. So they almost kind of like shut it down pretty quick. Which was disheartening. But like I said, I'm a researcher. I'm a fighter. I reached out to other parents. And I was like, Well, what did you do? Did you find any resources. And so there is another program called the at home program. It's through the Ministry of Child and Family Development in BC. So if your kid is dependent in four areas of life, so that's bathing, dressing, eating, and toileting, then you qualify for this at home program. So that was a whole huge process in itself. It took us almost a year to get approved on this in this program. But through the Home program, they'll help provide funding for like medical equipment around the house, and things like that. And they also provide respite funding. So you're approved for this program yet Home program, but then any funding still is not guaranteed it's still limited funding within this program, you will still be put on waitlist once you're in this program. So technically, you know Ivy is part of the at home program. We are on a waitlist for respite funding. And I want to use that respite funding for paying for a support worker for Ivy's preschool. Unfortunately, we're still just sitting on a waitlist. They can't tell me how long we're going to be on this waitlist for I've heard from some parents that it's a couple years. Wow. I'm not feeling hopeful about it at all. So I'm just moving forward. So that's the whole big hurdle in itself is trying to find funding for a support worker for a preschooler parent bc it's basically non existent. So that's unfortunate. And that's been a huge hurdle. And we're kind of somewhere but also kind of nowhere because we don't have funding.


Madeline Cheney  8:58 

So what would happen if you just like went to a preschool and like, hey, I want to enroll my daughter Ivy? Like, is that where you need a support worker to help you with that? Or how does like what does that look like?


Vanessa McLeod  9:09 

Like what is a support worker?


Madeline Cheney  9:11 

Um, or I guess what I'm wondering is like, if you went to a preschool and you said like, hey, I want to enroll Ivy would they like deny her because of her limb differences without having another worker?


Vanessa McLeod  9:22 

Yes. So here's the second part of like, you know, the funding firm support worker that was my first hurdle. Yeah, that's been a continuing process. The second hurdle I I encountered, so my eldest daughter had gone to this preschool for two years. I loved it. It's a Montessori Preschool. The teacher is amazing. She's so like, kind and gentle, which I love like I'm very much a gentle parenting kind of parent. And I just I loved her classroom. I loved her the teacher. So you know, I one day I was picking up my eldest daughter from preschool, I kind of mentioned that I want to put on preschool. And her reaction is not what I was hoping for. She told me that Ivy would need a support worker she wouldn't take, I view that as a worker. And there were other conversations that happened. Some of them were disheartening, some of them were a little more encouraging. But essentially, there's a lot of hesitancy from this preschool teacher. She's the owner, operator slash teacher. And, you know, she said that she does have a lot of fear, because she's never had a kid like Ivy in her class. And to be honest, I kind of laughed when she said that, because even Ivy's pediatrician, is never good, like Ivy in his care, because she is quite rare. You know, like, I'm lucky that in that I found our large community, but it is online, and it's around the world, so locally for our local pediatricians. They don't they don't have any experience with a kid like Ivy, so I just kind of had to laugh when she was someplace a fair bit, never dealt with the kid, like I've been like, well, no one has, like, baby's pediatrician hasn't even dealt with a kid like Ivy. And, you know, this has been a learning curve for me as well, this is just something that I've learned and taking the time to learn. So you know, I think, for a lot of people, there's a lot of fear surrounding disabilities in general. And you know, this teacher even use the word liability, she just kind of is viewing it as a liability, which is really unfortunate. So, like I said, there were some big problems with like, kind of, like inherent ableism. In these conversations, that's also been a hurdle that we've had to overcome.


Madeline Cheney  11:43 

As you mentioned before, like Ivy is totally independent, and like, can do anything she needs to do. And so that really seems misplaced, as well. And judgmental, really.


Vanessa McLeod  11:55 

I mean, it is, again, coming from a place of ignorance. And I don't mean that rudely, it's just, she purely doesn't know, because you'll know, especially with COVID, like pickups and drop offs, were always super quick. And we didn't really get to interact with teachers this last year. So the teacher hasn't seen it, she doesn't know it very well. So it is coming from a place of ignorance and just not knowing. But again, I think I was just hoping that this teacher would just be so excited to have Ivy in her class and just welcomed her with open arms and be like, Oh, yeah, like, it doesn't matter. Like, whatever it is, like we'll figure it out. But that just wasn't quite the reaction that I received, which was super disappointing. There was just a lot of hesitancy and a lot of fear. And a lot of, well, how is this gonna work? And how are we going to do that? And how is she going to do this? And what are we going to do when this happens? And data data that instead of just kind of being like, absolutely, like, we would love to have Ivy, let's welcome her into the class with open arms. Doesn't matter what her disability is, we'll figure it out. Yeah, that just wasn't, like I said, wasn't the reaction. So that was really disappointing. But you know, I do love this teacher. And we have had good conversations as well, where she has expressed after some time that she's excited to have Ivy in our classroom, and she thinks it'll be so good for the other students as well to just you know, we've had conversations about how to talk to the kids about raising disability inclusive kids. And you know, how to talk about differences, how to talk about diversity, and those sorts of things. So I know she sees the value in that as well. I think they're just there's a lot of fear holding her back.


Madeline Cheney  13:38 

But yeah, I mean, like To be honest, like if we think about back to our first episode together, like we've both experienced that too. And I think most parents have like the feelings are unqualified for these children because you just don't know what to do. And so you know, really that I feel like it's probably pretty relatable like Well, yeah, like I mean, I felt that too, but like, trust me like you can Yeah, you can do this.


Vanessa McLeod  14:01 

Well, you might be unqualified you might not know but there's always an opportunity to learn. Yeah, and I guess I was just disappointed that she wasn't outwardly showing right off the bat that she was excited to learn. Which I guess I've been hoping that she would be as a teacher because you're very right like in my case, you know, I didn't receive a lot of support while pregnant. They treated it like a routine pregnancy. They didn't treat it like a high risk pregnancy. So it wasn't seen. I wasn't even seen by an OB just my midwife. Yeah, they talked about you know, referring me to an OB but then they never did. And then you know, the time comes and she came a month early, but they wouldn't even deliver her and not even our local hospital because that was my plan. Our local hospital doesn't have a NICU so we're going to go one city. That kind of like up from us, I guess, where they have an ICU and we'll have her there. And even they didn't Feel comfortable delivering her those the pediatricians on call at night, didn't feel comfortable. So these actions to BC Children's Hospital by ambulance, to just where we would have better care, I guess they just didn't feel competent. They wanted us to be in the best place possible, which I totally understand. But you know, and then so after all this, like even, you know, not even our town, but like a bigger city than ours, those pediatricians didn't feel comfortable delivering her. And then they just sent me home with his baby. And I'm like, hey, well, like, if all these medical professionals didn't feel comfortable caring for her, and now I'm caring for her. Like, you're right. It is a lot to learn. Yeah. And you do everything yourself. You learn everything yourself. I didn't have anyone guiding me. You know, I found that community on my own. And it was other parents. I've honestly found the most help from other parents. It hasn't been from any medical professionals. It's been all from parents.


Madeline Cheney  15:55 

Ah, I'm glad that parents are there like me. Yeah, he's medical professionals like me to pick that up.


Vanessa McLeod  16:02 

For you, thank goodness for the internet. Because without the internet, I wouldn't have connected with the amount of people I have. And I would be lost.


Madeline Cheney  16:13 

Amen to that. Like, how did parents do this before?


Vanessa McLeod  16:16 

I don't know, I don't know.


Madeline Cheney  16:17 

We could reach a community virtually.


Vanessa McLeod  16:19 

Quite honestly,they didn't do it. These children were often sent to institutions, which is really sad.


Madeline Cheney  16:24 

Yeah, there you go. Yeah. You're right. So, kind of going back to Ivy's pre school. Journey, I guess. Where did that lead? Like you made more progress in that or?


Vanessa McLeod  16:40 

Yeah, I mean, she's going since the teachers initial reaction, hesitancy, we've had meetings with her. I made an IEP for IB. She's met with Ivy, I hired a support worker, like I looked for her on my own, hired her independently. we'd met with her. I've talked with her a lot about my goals for Ivy my vision for Ivy's experience at preschool. The support worker, I found is absolutely amazing. I'm so excited about her. I think she's going to be amazing for Ivy. And she's kind of almost even working herself out of a job like those were her words. She said I essentially want to work myself out of the job. I want it to be as independent as possible. Which I feel the same. That's amazing. And I honestly think Ivy's going to surprise everyone because they don't know her and because, you know, it's just kind of a part of ablest viewpoints. You can't imagine that a life different than yours is still okay. So I think these teachers just don't even know I honestly think I was gonna blow them away with what she can do, because they can't even picture her doing things. Even other kids who meet them. They don't even think she can hold an umbrella. Right? He just can't picture it. Mm hmm. So yeah, I think she's gonna surprise them all. Because I told them I'm like, you know, I wish you guys could see our house, we don't have anything modified for her. Nothing, we bought a device specialized high chair. But, you know, if you know Ivy, she is fiercely independent, and she doesn't want to sit in a chair, she wants to sit in a regular chair, like a big sister does. So that she does. It does too. And people honestly cannot picture that. But they will find it, which is kind of funny, but it's also kind of sad at the same time that, you know, people can't imagine that a life different than theirs is still worth living. Or that you can still have a beautiful life. Or you know, and that's not the case for everyone. But it's just it is something that happens and it's sad.


Madeline Cheney  18:48 

Yeah. And she will she will teach I mean like now that that she's going to preschool so she can have an awesome experience. Right? Like she's not going there to like teach these people. That's not her job. But that being said, like, what a great opportunity for this teacher for these other cases she'll be with to be like, wow, yeah, like Ivy like she's legit. Like, I love her.


Vanessa McLeod  19:10 

Yeah, if I can just jump in, like, I don't want to ever put that weight on Ivy. It is not her responsibility to teach other people. But you're right at the same time it is going to happen. And people are going to learn from her. It is not her responsibility. It's not her job to do that. But it will happen. And I am excited for that. Because Am I going to change a doctor's mind by writing a letter when she's done 40 years with a research about genetic anomalies? Do I really think I'm going to change her mind? No, but do I think that we can have an impact on the next generation 100% I think that if we start actively teaching kids at a young age about the beauty of diversity, the beauty of different is the beauty of a disabled, like, I think it's going to be so powerful and we can raise these kids to know better.


Madeline Cheney  20:08 

Yeah, and I think like, even with the invention of like things like, we talked about internet but like specifically like Instagram is because that's like an easier way to like follow people that are you don't really know personally and like for us as parents to be educated by disabled adults and to like see what their life might be like as adults and to see how much we have in common and how all of our differences contribute to awesome human beings and just all of it like I really do I agree with you, I think that we are being tutored by these adults that choose to teach us like you right? Like, we act like it's not their job to teach us but these wonderful people that choose to do that, and then you know, like you say, we can influence also the upcoming parents and they can influence the next generation next generation and really, make it a really great community to enter into just like parents, you know, I think for us.


Vanessa McLeod  21:03 

I just think we can raise a more inclusive generation and we can create a more inclusive world. Yeah, by doing this, by advocating and by, you know, specifically talking to kids about it, you know, I like I've brought books to the preschool. You know, I've had conversations with the teacher about, okay, so what comments are okay for kids to say what questions are okay for them to ask what's not okay, when do you need to intervene and correct. He'd be the words that they're using, and that sort of thing, too. And because, you know, I don't think these kids are necessarily going to get that from home, because that's just an unfortunate part of society right now. So I want them to learn it at school.


Madeline Cheney  21:43 

Yeah, yeah. And I want to put a note in there too, like, so we're talking about accessibility? And how Ivy because of the way that she is naturally, right. She's like this fiercely independent child who figures things out and does things like her sister, but there are those kids out there that do need modifications and accommodations. Yeah, they need accommodations, and like that, you know, whether or not our children or these adults are able to figure things out and do things on their own, or if they need accommodations, like, everyone deserves these things, like you mentioned, like everyone deserves to have access. And, of course, it's not I mean, I didn't really think twice about it before had Kimble. But, you know, luckily, we get to be in this community and realize there's a need.


Vanessa McLeod  22:32 

Yeah, I mean, something, something interesting that I have learned. And so now Personally, I don't even use the term special needs. From what I've learned, I think it's a bit outdated. And it puts the emphasis on accommodations on disabled people, rather than putting the pressure on the entire world to be more accessible to everyone. So you know, like, disabled people, they have needs, they have accessibility needs. But everybody has those same needs to everybody needs access, every child has needs. And it's just that, in our case, in the world, as it is today, if you're a typical kid, those needs will automatically be met, because that's how our world is built. Whereas disabled kids, the world wasn't, it's not as inclusive as it should be, at this point in time, and so those needs won't be met, because the world isn't designed that way. And so that's where advocating comes into play, so that our disabled kids can have their needs met in the same way that non disabled kids have their needs met. All kids have needs, and they all deserve to have their needs met. Yeah, so that's why I don't like the term special needs because Ivy doesn't have special needs. She has needs just like every other child does. And she deserves to have those needs met.


Madeline Cheney  23:59 

Yeah, preach. And like another thing I, I use the term special needs like, until, I don't know until I was educated not to use that term. Like I think, you know, we're all learning and like, trying to figure out what the, you know, I don't know how we feel about things and, and how disabled people feel about things. And I think I think like having another child that you know, is quote unquote, typical, I think really highlights that to that discrepancy because it's like, yeah, this world was made for Wendy like, this gal is very accessible to her, but not in the same way as her brother. And I think that that's a really, I don't like a really actually empowering contrast to seem like okay, yeah, like we could, we could make some changes with this.


Vanessa McLeod  24:47 

So I know a mom, she's fairly local to me. She has six year old twins and one has a disability and the other doesn't. So they're literally living parallel lives where access for one child is immediately granted for everything, that same access is being denied to the other twin. Wow, she's experiencing that, like, in tandem. Whereas me like, you know, I have my eldest daughter, I put her in preschool experience all that. So I want the same for it. And now I'm experiencing hurdles, where it's like, you know, this mom with her twin. She goes to put them both in daycare, the same time that her one child is granted access without questions asked, is experiencing all these hurdles for the other twin? And, you know, sometimes isn't even being given that access at all.


Madeline Cheney  25:44 

Wow interesting. What a punch in the gut. Oh, my God.


Vanessa McLeod  25:50 

Is there anything like highlight? How inaccessible? Our world really is? .


Madeline Cheney  25:56 

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. And I think, you know, it's interesting to me to to realize, like how many of these children that are born with like, especially medical complexities, you know, 20, 30, 40, years ago would have died, like Kim will probably would have died for I mean, actually, undoubtedly, he would have died. And so the world has this influx of disabled people, which is so cool. And I think we're all kind of scrambling to like to really catch up, I guess to be like, wow, yeah, like, stairs are not accessible. Like,


Vanessa McLeod  26:28 

Think to just disabled people have been marginalized for so long, they've lived on the fringes of society for so long, because that's where they've been pushed to. And now, you know, the world is evolving, it is different nowadays. And so disabled people are able to advocate a bit more, and have themselves be brought into the light to shed light on these issues. Because for so long, sometimes these children were just put into institutions, they weren't even raised at home. They were just sent off to institutions. So for so long, disabled people were, they lived on the fringes of society, and they were marginalized. And I mean, that is still the case. But we're getting to a point now, where with things like the internet and social media and social movements, we are fighting for change.


Madeline Cheney  27:14 

Oh my gosh, yeah, that's such a good point. My job. So I guess I would love to move on to your next point of tips for parents or things that you've kind of learned through this, like such a headache of process of helping Ivy go to preschool, what would you advise parents who are listening right now?


Vanessa McLeod  27:36 

I mean, I don't have many tips in terms of like, just the preschool issue, because we're still struggling with that. And there are some big, like, systemic changes that need to happen in terms of like bc education. I plan on writing letters, and doing more research to figure out what I can do to advocate for her. But, you know, if I could just give a tip in general, for any parent who is maybe feeling alone right now, or, you know, having any of those emotions that I've talked about, like fear, guilt, anything like that, anything that goes along with raising a child with a disability, I would just encourage you to know that you're not alone in this journey. And I know sometimes it is scary, and you do feel alone. But there is a huge community out there of parents. And like I said, thank goodness for the internet, because I've been able to connect with so many people and I, I have found that support, I found so many resources, just even for kids with limb differences. You know, and then there's resources for kids with down syndrome, there's resources for autistic kids, you know, there's all these little different niches, I guess you could say. And then there's just like the wider disability community in general, I've connected with so many people with so many different disabilities. And you know, I've learned that we're not alone in this journey. And you know, things things might be hard sometimes, like this whole preschool issue. But you know, that's when you can band together and I've talked to other parents and we're gonna fight we're gonna fight for, for things to change. But you know, at the end of the day, it will never be alone. She has an army behind her. And I'm so grateful for that.


Madeline Cheney  29:27 

Yeah, I love that so much. And I think you know, as a parent, that is so reassuring to be like, listening to disabled people talking about life or issues or you know, whatever. I think it is really reassuring as a parent to be like, you know, my son's a part of this community. I'm not but like my son is and I feel so secure in this idea of like, that they are speaking out more and like, and demanding justice and accessibility and that, I don't know I'm like, I'm freaking proud. Like, yeah hes disabled this is such a cool community for him to be a part of.


Vanessa McLeod  30:02 

Yeah. And that's where, you know, that's probably where the biggest journey has been for me, because not even like I was intentionally raised this way, but you are just kind of raised to believe that disabilities are sad. And so that's probably been the biggest change for me and my viewpoint. It's not sad. Her life is not sad. It's different, but different. can be amazing.


Madeline Cheney  30:34 

Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah. Oh, I love that. So what are your hopes and dreams for Ivy as she goes along in life? And undoubtedly comes up against more discrimination? Yeah. What do you hope for her and for other all disabled children?


Vanessa McLeod  30:53 

Yeah, I mean, part of this is scary, because I, I do know that she will face discrimination, she will face ableism, she will face some challenges in her life. I do know that I don't, you know, I'm not just kind of sweeping that under the rug. I do acknowledge that. But, you know, my hopes for Ivy is that she always knows how loved she is that she has a place in this world. She is meant to be here. And she deserves that. She deserves to be here. She deserves a place in this world. She deserves love. She deserves a full life. And I have no doubt that she will live a full life, not only because of like her spirit and who she is, but because of the community that we have found. And then I would also just hope for Ivy that she knows that she is truly limitless. I think the only limits schlub her face are the limits. So people try to impose on her. And I say try, because they're going to try, and they can try all they want. But they can't limit her because only she can limit herself. And I know she's not going to do that. I can already tell by her, her spirit and her independence and her fight her will, her SAS, like, he's already taking the world by storm. And, yeah, she's limitless. And I've learned this to through connecting with other people. I've talked to Jessica Cox, she is in the Guinness Book of World Records, because she is the world's first licensed armless pilot. Wow, that's awesome. Ivy literally, to fly an airplane, she will. Ivy can do, if she wants to. There are no limits. There are no limits. For someone who's disabled, there's only the limits that people will try to impose on her. And that's where we'll run into issues like lack of equal access, all that kind of thing.


Madeline Cheney  32:58 

just listening to you too, like, I am so confident that you're right about that, as she will never limit herself, in part because of the confidence that you are instilling in her. And I think that, you know, she is so equipped, like having these parents that are so confident in her in her ability to adapt and to have a great life. I think I know, I'd be willing to bet that a lot of the competence you've seen her right now is in part because you don't expect any less from her than you do your other daughter. And I think that goes such a long ways for these kids that we're raising for them to know that we have all the confidence in the world and them.


Vanessa McLeod  33:35 

Yeah, and like I do love Ivy and I believe in her but I also have to credit the parents who have counseled me and encouraged me and guided me because I did have parents very early on parents that I met through the warrants Canada, and they told me straight up you cannot treat her any different than your other children. And I remember hearing this when I'm holding a two week old Ivy and I'm like what like I would never make Ivy do the dishes. You know like because you're holding this precious two week old baby was born without hands and you don't know any better and you're like, I would never make her do the dishes like how would she do the dishes? But now like I'm like, okay, that's pregnancy, right? Like you literally can't treat her any different. Ivy sweeps. Iv cleans up messes. If she makes a mess, she has to clean it up. Yeah, you know, so like, I did learn I have had so many amazing people in my life whether those are disabled adults, or parents of kids with similar limb differences to Ivy's just be there for me and encouraged me and counseled me. So I have learned a lot from other parents but I'm trying my best to do my best for it and to be my best for Ivy because she deserves the best mother in the world. And so I'm trying my absolute hardest to be that for her because she deserves no less.


Madeline Cheney  34:58 

So much like what a she Shift, right? Like I just kind of bring it back to the first episode we were talking about that doctor who was like, she'll have no quality of life. And then you're like, Oh my gosh, maybe I'm not qualified to be your mom and then to come all the way to this point. And she's only two and a half years old, like you guys have, like, you know, so much longer in life to continue to evolve and stuff, but like, what an awesome evolution to have to come to this point, like she can do anything. I think that is so cool. Yeah.


Vanessa McLeod  35:29 

It's been a journey. It's been, you know, it's been amazing. It's been incredible. It's been hard to confront those ablest ideas that I previously held, it's uncomfortable, it's uncomfortable for me to realize, Hey, I was kind of, for lack of a better word, I should be person for thinking this. It is uncomfortable, to confront your own biases, and you know, you're able to thoughts, but it's just something that I am now so passionate about.


Madeline Cheney  35:58 

Yeah, yeah, it is uncomfortable. And I think our kids are better off when we do confront it and adapt. And you know, I'm not pretending to be any kind of expert on this either. Like I I feel like there's so much more learning to do and so much more listening. But just being aware that it's the thing and be like, acknowledging like, yeah, like, I have these ablest ideas that are ingrained in me, you know, just growing up in the society. And that's not going to serve my child. It's not going to serve my family. And so I choose to listen and learn and change.


Vanessa McLeod  36:30 

And you know, I do it because I've deserved in the last. Yeah. Yeah, it gets hard because you know, that other parents don't necessarily have to have these conversations or put in that time or that work, but I'm happy to do it. Because I mean, there's no way to put it other than she deserves it.


Madeline Cheney  36:51 

Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Vanessa, for letting us talk about all this. Just all of it the accessibility, ableism, our childrens worth, it was such a great conversation.


Vanessa McLeod  37:07 

Thank you, I will forever shout Ivys worth to anyone who will listen. So thank you for letting me do that.


Madeline Cheney  37:17 

A couple of weeks after we recorded this conversation, Ivy started preschool. She loves it just as much as was anticipated and is thriving. She even started up at a ballet studio, who welcomed her with open arms. If you want to see adorable photos of her radiating with joy at these fun new milestones. Give her mom Vanessa a follow on Instagram. I'll put a link for that in the show notes as well as a link to my account. After talking to Vanessa, I requested the resources that she looked into to learn about ableism and the history of the disabled community and so you can find that little list of resources in the show notes if you want to do a little more digging yourself to don't miss next week's episode as I chat with a Nikki nurse about her inspiration, her best moments and her hardest moments, as well as a pep talk for all of us. It's a great one. See you then.

Episode Comments

Maggie Miranda

Nov 8 2021, 8:10pm

I follow Vanessa on fb. I absolutely love Ivy.
My grandson Mateo is two and uses a wheelchair. I want to advocate for him.
If there is something I could do to advocate for these kids, count on me !

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
Ep. 119: Your Child’s Medical Team | How to Push Back, Ask Questions, and Build Your Dream Team w/ Dr. Kelly Fradin, MD https://d3ctxlq1ktw2nl.cloudfront.net/staging/2023-2-23/319744619-22050-1-1e2071eee4df4.m4a


Hex Code

68: Dipping My Toes into Educational Advocacy