Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thoughts for Thursday...your (disabled and frail) hand in mine...

Some thoughts about human touch.

My disabled son who is 20 years old, has the disability of Cerebral Palsy. This leaves him totally physically dependent upon others for his daily necessities of life.

One such 'necessity of life' that is frequently forgotten, is the need for human touch. The evidence for skin to skin contact for wee babes is well documented. I think we all forget, that we remain 'human' for our entire lives. As such, that need for skin to skin contact is as necessary as breathing. And I'm not talking anything sordid here, just the touch of another person, that is not born of a task. A gentle hand on the brow, a thoughtful and smoothing brush through the hair. 

I have fond memories of my Mother brushing my long hair, for 100 strokes each night when I was about the same age as my daughter is now. There were seven children in our family and Mum was a divorcee, so moments for individual attention were rare. These were special moments for her and for me.

At the other end of the spectrum, I brushed my Mums hair when she was terminally ill. I massaged cream into her hands and feet and read to her while stroking her arm. Even in the final hour of her life, I carried out these simple tasks for her, knowing that even if the essence of my Mum was already gone, her spirit knew I was there, doing as she had done for me.

So what happens for my disabled son?

Not for him, the confident certainty that there is a special 'someone' out there for him. Not for me, the quiet assurance that there will be friends and girlfriends galore to smooth his path through lifes' storms. Mostly, as far as gentle human touch goes, there is just me. And what happens when I am no longer here. Who, if he becomes ill or frail (that is, more frail), will run that gentle comb through his hair, stroke his forehead and massage his feet and hold his hand?

These are not questions that trouble him at his. I daresay the thought has not even crossed his mind.

 But as the years wear on, and brothers and sisters get on with life and family, and parents, and Aunts and Uncles, too, grow frail and elderly, who then to offer him some gentle human touch?

There is a great lack of human services for those with disabilities. Lots of 'therapies' and 'support' for sure. But where is the 'humanity' in all of this. People like Alex need someone to call upon them who isn't getting paid to be there, and is willing to be there on a regular basis. Someone who knows in their heart that the gift of gentle, non-sexual, and non-reciprocated touch, can be it's own reward.

There are many Alex's out there. 

Is there something you can do for a disabled, frail or elderly person in your community? It doesn't have to be significant. Just calling in on your way to or from work or school pickup for just five short minutes, to offer a foot massage or soothing moisturiser on dry limbs or a brush through someone like Alex's curly locks. 

Just a simple human thing for which you'll receive no thanks other than a good feeling. Could you spare five or ten minutes in your day to give something that costs you nothing, yet would mean so much to someone else?

Maybe we could start an international Circle of the Human Touch and urge others to do the same?

I'll be seeing Mr A today as I do most days. I'll hold his soft baby-skin hand, curled by the Cerebral Palsy in mine, and stroke his arm as he shows me his latest Anime movie. He'll indulge me because secretly he likes it, although he'll be quick to squirm away if someone else turns up. Then I'll give him a big Mum hug and a sloppy kiss on the cheek when I leave and he'll 'tolerate' me, giving me a big warm grin as I leave. Now, that's bliss.

What's on your Tray of Bliss today?


  1. Beautiful thoughts. I agree that we need to remember what a loving touch can do, and offer it as often as possible.

  2. Beautiful post. My stepson is severely Autistic and I have the same worries for his future as you do for your son. Who will be there for them? Who will care, I mean "REALLY" care for them???
    It is a very real worry isn't it.
    Take care


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