Disability in Japan

“My daughter has a physical and intellectual disability.
She looked fine when I gave birth to her, but her development was really delayed. The doctors said her head’s really small, but we couldn’t really tell during the first 10 months so we had to wait. Later on we found out she had microcephaly, which is when the head and brain doesn’t grow properly (her head circumference is two standard deviations below normal) and this affects brain development. She has issues with her body, too. At first, I didn’t know what to do to support her. Thankfully, the local government was supportive and gave guidance. We have access to services like a rehabilitation center that has a kindergarten attached to it, and specialists see her regularly. We also get financial assistance. So they look after you really well. To be honest, I was surprised with the amount of support, both monetary and physical.

Staying positive despite challenges

“I think the way disability in Japan is looked at, and the support available for people with disabilities, has made great strides in the last 10 years. Developmental disability like ADHD and autism were never really talked about before, and it was hard to get a diagnosis here. You just had a kid at school who’s hyperactive and the teachers couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. Now we even have some Japanese TV personalities coming forward to say they have ADHD or they’re in the autism spectrum. They’re helping to make disability more normalised which I think is really good.

In saying this though, some mindsets still need to change. Someone I knew said to me, ‘What did you do to cause her to be like this?’ Or, ‘It’s because you were working while pregnant with her.’ They think you must be bad, or have done something if your child is born with disability. In my daughter’s case it’s genetic. There’s always going to be people with opinions so you just have to be positive. On top of that, my child is half-Japanese, so that has its own set of hardships. Being mixed nationality with disability is kind of unique so I’d love to talk about it if anyone’s interested to hear.”

Jessica is a New Zealander, a TV personality and mom to three kids. Follow her on Instagram: @jessintokyo Twitter: @jessintokyo

3児の母ですが、末っ子が生まれつきの知的、身体障碍持ってます。生まれたてのところは大丈夫そうだったけど、発達が遅れました。専門の先生に診てもらったところ、頭が非常に小さいと言われたのですが、10ヶ月のころまではやはり赤ちゃんそれぞれなので、様子見になってました。その後、小頭症という診断がつきました。小頭症っというのは、頭が大きくならないことによって脳も大きくならず、発達が遅れてしまう(首すわり、寝返りなど)。(頭囲標準より2標準偏差) それによって娘が4歳になった娘は今自分で移動できない、喋れない、人から全介護が必要な状態です。


奥までも個人的な意見ですが、日本では{障害}という事の扱いや、日本社会と障害者との対話/対応(Interaction)がこの10年で変わってる気がします。例えば、発達障害、ADHD、ASD – 自閉症のお話し、診断などはあんまり聞いておらず、ただただ落ち着きがない子がクラスルームにいました。一般の日本人の障害に対する知識が高まっててる気がします。マスメディアであるタレントなどが、発達障害ですっというカミングアウトもしてまして、隠すことより、障害のない方と理解し合う事が増えてると思います。

自分の経験では、考え方が私と違う方がいますね。ママ友っという方から”こういう風に生まれれてくるから、妊娠中は何かしたの?”や、”ギリギリまで働いてたから、そうなっちゃったの” など言われることもあります。なんとなくですが、障害で生まれた、母親のせいにするっという考え方あります。未だにネガティブな意見お持ちの方がいますけれど、私はできるだけ前向きの考え・生き方持ってますね。さらに、ハーフっということもあり、障害だけではなく、マルチで日常のチャレンジがあります。ユニークなチャレンジがあるからこそ、娘の事話す機会もっと増えたらいいなっと思います。

インスタグラム @jessintokyo ツイッター@jessintokyo

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Finding diversity and inclusion. Breaking down barriers one post at a time. Stories and snapshots of foreigners making their way in Japan.

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