Viewers' stories: Vegan activism and people with special needs

By Lors - Check out her YouTube Channel: OctoberRainRocks

The first topic I would like to highlight will require me to share my son's story with you if I may, this will give you a little bit of a back story with regards my now adult son Ally and our journey together, and how discussing certain aspects of it may possibly give you a different perspective on things maybe.

The following piece I hope will highlight a few areas that I feel are possibly being ignored or at the very least skipped over when tackling certain topics within the vegan community (and outside of too) so don't worry this will be a more rounded approach.

When my son was 15 months old, and was due a check up at his Dr's as was typically requested at his age to ensure he was meeting his milestones etc ( which had been pencilled in shortly after his M.M.R vaccine) it was discovered as well as myself highlighting that I felt he had really regressed, as several weeks before he had been chatting ( and by that I mean the usual, words such as mama, and small sentences, etc) he had also been pulling himself around the furniture, and attempting to walk, he was sleeping well and by that I mean bedtime was at around 8 pm and he had his usual afternoon nap also. everything was beginning to change with him, was it due to the vaccine ( i truly cannot say although I do have my suspicions) however I won't be focusing on that in this story.

To cut a long story short Ally further regressed and was sent for a brain scan which was pretty traumatic to rule out Encephalitis, which is caused by inflammation of the brain. The severity can be variable with symptoms including headache, fever, confusion, a stiff neck, and vomiting. Complications may include seizures, hallucinations, trouble speaking, memory problems, and problems with hearing.

Ally had been displaying some of the symptoms including starting off with flu-like symptoms, which he had been displaying but could also have been because he had not long received his M.M.R. More serious symptoms include confusion, seizures, difficulty speaking and feeling weak can occur however the only similar symptoms he was displaying were difficulty speaking and confusion which despite his age were quite prevalent and noticeable which was not only a red flag for me but also for his consultant at the time. Needless to say that is why this was important to diagnose or at the very least rule it out.

The scan was performed and it came back clear, the Dr had already explained to me that if Encephalitis was not recognised we could be looking at Autism. and therefore after further investigations deemed to be the case, Allys diagnosis was ( is) ASD , learning disabilities, severe hyperacusis, hyper and hypo sensitivities, including visual, so you are completely aware, these include severe sensory problems including how he manages with food. it took til Ally was 8 years old for him to regain his physical ability to walk properly without corrective footwear and a special needs buggy, as well as re learn the spoken word and understand language as a whole again, as we had to use sign along for many years until he was able to rely on speech without it.

I had been vegetarian for a long time only switching to veganism when I was shown how horrendous the dairy, and egg industries were, so have been vegan for about four years now if my calculations are correct. why the back story and what does this have to do with the community, let me elaborate.

When I first started my vegan journey, I tried to involve myself, by making videos on my you tube channel and partaking in vigils and marches etc, that I was able to attend as being a full time carer meant that this was not always easy to achieve, anyway this opened my eyes to a lot of things including how many people were tackling activism and how it seemed to be mainly the big groups who were out there partaking in vigils that I now don't attend for various reasons and most are self explanatory.

First of all I will get in to the reasons behind why I stopped attending and break those down.

1. I experienced discrimination, due to the fact that I was vegan but Ally wasn't, and even when I broke down the reasons as to why Ally isn't due to the fact of his sensory sensitivities as well as his autism and that he would literally not eat if I were to try to change his diet, I was met with the same answers, ie that I was simply not bothering or that I was making excuses, which could not be further from the truth, Ally is a young man with various very complex needs, disabilities and sensory problems that make Ally's diet the way it is, he will literally gag or physically react when met with foods and drinks that he cannot handle, Ally's food choices therefore are due to his inability to physically tolerate different products due to texture, taste, smell the whole nine yards, so I feel maybe it is time that people weather vegan or not are made aware so that they may re consider other peoples personal circumstances before labelling them as a lazy vegan mum, or that I am simply making an excuse.

This type of attitude I feel anyway is only going to hurt the community further if other parents are met with a similar attitude, our goal as a community should be about unity, understanding and pulling people together in a positive way as oppose to further distancing ourselves from potential vegan converts.

Many vegans discuss speciesism, lets first of all look at what this means,

'considering the impact of your actions and words on animals in your everyday life and working to eliminate any harm to them' we are all living beings, and if we cannot consider our own actions towards one another, we absolutely have no right placing this word in our mouths, being mindful towards one another should in itself remind us that doing the opposite of this means that we are just as guilty of speciesism within our own kind, which actually makes it even worse if you really sit and think about it.

2. We must also look at maybe a few different approaches when it comes to activism, as some can actually cause more harm than good, take someone like my son for example who has a draw towards anything computer related, picture the scene, he spots a group of people with laptops or screens and darts over there to investigate and is met with footage ( even if the sound is not on) that scares him, because he does not have the ability to break down what he is seeing, all this would do would be to give him nightmares, and not because of the process but because he cannot compartmentalise what he has seen, I have voiced my opinions on various different occasions as a mum but also as a fellow vegan about these types of vigils, and that they should possibly be re looked at, as a movement I feel is is very important that we should take on board others opinions when they could be important with regards how vigils but especially street vigils could possibly be made more inclusive. I know a few fellow vegans who feel this needs to be addressed what are your opinions and thoughts of this but in general this post as a whole.

Blessings Lors x

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