During Eliza Hull’s pregnancy three years ago she was given many self-help books for expectant mothers. It was difficult for her to relate to any of them because none of them contained any representation of mothers with disabilities.
“My theory is that parents with disabilities are often not represented in the media because there is still a societal view that people with disabilities shouldn't be parents.”
Eliza was born with Charcot-Marie Tooth Syndrome. She feels as if there is a stigma in society that people with disabilities should not be parents. To challenge this misconception Eliza created a podcast called We’ve Got This: Parenting With A Disability. ABC Life says the podcast “explores the complexities that parenting with a disability brings and challenges stigmas and stereotypes.”
Eliza was the recipient of ABC’s 2018 Regional Storyteller Scholarship. “I have learnt more about myself than I could have imagined, and I'm prouder than ever to be a disabled woman and parent,” she says.
Eliza states, “I will never forget the first email from a member of the general public who had previously held the belief that parents with intellectual disabilities shouldn't parent, but changed their mind after listening to the first episode. This reiterated to me the importance of sharing these stories; stories that may have previously gone unheard.”
The goal for the podcast was to share the stories of parents with disabilities in a way that accurately represented their lives.
“I didn't want to sensationalise (parenting with a disability) or make it inspirational. I wanted to normalise it.”
Throughout her scholarship, Eliza traveled around Australia interviewing parents with disabilities for her podcast of eight series. Each series featuring a parent with a disability played on Radio National Life Matters with a written article on ABC Life.
Eliza found the most common challenge each parent faced was society’s perspective on their ability to be a parent. She says, “I found the most common challenge each parent experienced happened in the community. They came from assumptions from strangers that our children must be looking after us, or that disability is inherently something negative, or horrible.”
Eliza feels stereotypes and beliefs are being broken down through the representation of people with disabilities.
“Because people with disabilities are parenting. They're in relationships. They have desires, dreams, hopes, needs. And not only are they having children, they're successfully creating families that are absolutely thriving.”
Parents with disabilities pass on a unique perspective to their children. “(Children) grow up in a home where difference is embraced, not feared,” says Eliza.
Are you a parent with a disability? Share your story with us at AbleThrive.com!