Sunday 26 January 2020

Prejudice lingers over disabilities

I AM writing in relation to the article written by Sheena McGinley in the Irish Independent's 'Weekend' magazine (July 24), in which she reviewed the 'soaps'.

I was very disappointed to see her refer to the character of Robert in 'Fair City', not by name, but as "the Robot".

Robert's character suffers from a condition called Asperger's Syndrome, a condition with which my own little boy of four was recently diagnosed.

It is a condition on the autistic spectrum and is relatively unknown to the general population. It is also a 'silent' disability, in that people who have been diagnosed are high-functioning individuals working in the community with no obvious signs of disability -- therefore they are often thought of as being 'odd' or 'strange'.

I was thrilled when RTE introduced the character of Robert with this condition as it will hopefully educate people as to the challenges it brings and also help them to recognise the symptoms. Perhaps then they will have a little bit of understanding and patience.

For this reason, I find Ms McGinley's description very sad.

This is something I would expect another pre-schooler to say, not a grown adult. It makes me even more apprehensive about the road ahead for my little boy if this is the type of prejudice that is out there.

Celine Ronan
Stamullen, Co Meath

Irish Independent

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