Including You: A Disability Rights Arkansas Podcast

Your Family, Your Rights

February 28, 2023 Disability Rights Arkansas Season 1 Episode 3
Including You: A Disability Rights Arkansas Podcast
Your Family, Your Rights
Including You: A Disability Rights AR Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript

There is a stigma around people with disabilities. Many believe people with disabilities don’t deserve a family life or can’t handle it.  I am joined today by Julie Petty – a wife, a mom, and a strong self-advocate here to break down that stigma. 

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Lani Jennings-Hall:

At Disability Rights Arkansas, we are focused on guidance for people with disabilities on how to navigate your rights, things that help with your everyday life, and how to navigate the complex systems that how to get the support you need. In this podcast, we bring that information directly to you the listener on things like accessibility questions, career and care, and even the nuances of love life with a disability. I'm your host, Lani Jennings-Hall. There is a stigma around people with disabilities. Many believe that people with disabilities don't deserve a family life, or maybe they can't handle it. I'm joined today by Julie Petty, a wife, a mom, and a strong self advocate who is here to break down that stigma. Julie, thank you for joining me today.

Julie Petty:

Hi Lani!

Lani Jennings-Hall:

So we're gonna jump right in. Julie, would you mind talking to us a little bit about your background?

Julie Petty:

Sure, My name is Julie Petty. I am a self advocate for disability justice. And I've been in Arkansas now for over 25 years. I'm married to my husband, Brian, for twenty two years. And we have two sons, a senior at high school and a freshman in college.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

So what do you do with your role?

Julie Petty:

Oh, at Partners for Inclusive Communities, I am a Project Trainer. I work around sexual prevention. And then we also support crime victims disabilities. Anybody who has been abused or hurt by a crime. That's what, I support them because we find that peer to peer support is the best.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

Absolutely I think, you know, there's no better way than the peer to peer support. Today, I really want to talk about that. In fact, I want to talk about your advocacy efforts. And I want to talk about your rights your there your family life because Julie, you do it all. You have been a strong self advocate and you, just you've got this amazing family life. Let's just talk about your family. What is a day in the life of Julie?

Julie Petty:

Well, if you would have asked me that seven or eight years ago, it would have been a lot different. But now, um, since my boys are young men, a day in the life of our family has evolved. You know, used to every afternoon, I would either

Lani Jennings-Hall:

You talked about you know, over the last be at a soccer game or music lessons. I used to be very, very busy. But now that my boys, are young men, they're pretty independent. So, and I, I work from home. You know, my it was nice to be able to raise the kids and work from home because it made it more flexible for me to be here with them. few years It's changed a little bit. Let's go back even a few more years. How did you meet your husband?

Julie Petty:

That's debatable. He has his story, and I have a story.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

It's typically how it goes right? I feel like that everybody has their own side of how it all started, right?

Julie Petty:

My story is, we met in college at the University of Arkansas. We were both journalism majors. So that's how I met him.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

So Julie, I want to get a little bit personal here. And there is a stigma and I'm sure you're very well aware that people with disabilities may not and I don't agree with this, but there is a stigma that people with disabilities you know, aren't going to have a family life they may not have kids. How do you go about advocating that this this is not true? Like how did you advocate that this is what you wanted, that you were gonna have a family, you were gonna - not just that you were going to that you deserved this right?

Julie Petty:

Well, you are right, there is a lot of stigma behind people with disabilities having children. And me and Brian just talked about it, and talked about what it would look like, and what kind of support I would need, which might be a little bit more support than a non-disabled mom. But I think we all have things we have to think about before we have kids. So as I just wanted to make sure Brian knew this was a partnership, I needed his help, especially. I think every Mom is scared at first when they bring the newborn home. And people, some people, thought I shouldn't have kids - even some of my family members. They thought how would you be able to take care of them? That's another big stereotype. So I just said, they are big grown young men men now. I think we did a good job.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

And Julie, how did you? How did you have those conversations? When when you had your I mean your own family doubting that because I know that there are people that are facing that. You You did it! I mean, you've got your kiddos and your kids are in college right?

Julie Petty:

One of them, yes. The other one is going next year.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

That's amazing. So you guys have done it. How How did you have those conversations with those people that that doubted you? How did you say like, we're gonna do this, this is how did you how did you handle those conversations?

Julie Petty:

So the people who doubted me, I really didn't get into a conversation with them, I just talked to Brian about it. He was my number one supporter. And eventually after the boys got older, the doubters, I think their doubts went away.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

Julie, I think that is so powerful. Like you, you didn't even have to have the comversation. You showed them through your actions. And I think that I don't know that there's anything more powerful that you can say about that. And I didn't prepare this question for you. And I apologize, but I feel like you're I feel like the conversation is kind of moving in this direction. How do you have the conversation with your kiddos to to teach them to to be empowering and be their own advocates as well and to be allies? How How are you furthering this movement? Really?

Julie Petty:

So I would have to say both my boys are great advocates and allies. You know, since they were younger, because I am a mom with a disability, I taught them stuff around the house at an earlier age. When they became old enough they would help me around the house. We would go shopping. I remember one time I took my oldest to Walmart. He was about seven, and he asked me why people were staring and I said, "because you are so beautiful." They are great allies. They help me make dinner. They help me clean around the house. I mean now that they are teenagers they don't want to do that stuff, but...

Lani Jennings-Hall:

[Laughing] Yeah, I understand that. Well and I love even in that right there you you lead by action not You didn't even have to explain like you never said anything. You just You just lead by action right there. Because you're beautiful like I absolutely love that Julie.

Julie Petty:

They just don't know any different, you know. Between kindergarten and sixth grade, they both went to the same school. I knew all of the teachers, I knew all their friends. I got involved in the PTO, the Parent Teach Organization . So I felt very accepted in their school life. Because that was one of my goals is supporting them at school, you know. With Brian, we have other roles in our family. One of my roles was to support the boys through school. So

Lani Jennings-Hall:

Let's talk about that a little bit because he you tell you said, Brian, is your husband Correct?

Julie Petty:

Yes. Yes.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

You guys are each other's support system just, which is wonderful. How do you guys just divide up a family, your family roles. It sounds like y'all have a pretty good system working?

Julie Petty:

Well. There are certain things I do not like to do. Because of my disability, It takes me 10 times longer to do than Brian, one of them being making dinner. I did cook more when the boys were younger. But I do not like folding, folding the laundry. So the boys have been doing their own laundry since they were young. I know people in college who don't even know how to do their laundry.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

Well, I know the rule in my household is Logan has to do his own laundry anyway, because I swear guys are just they're just stink. So I think the men should have to do their own laundry anyways. Julie, so what I'm hearing is you're having the exact same conversations every single family has,

Julie Petty:

yes.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

So the stigma that exists, it shouldn't because you're you're having the same conversations, you're creating your support system, you're having the same worries this like it's it's just it's family life, right?

Julie Petty:

It is. There is not a big difference, but because I am a national leader and I've been able to travel all over the nation and sometimes take my family. So my boys have been around every type of disability around the nation. And so they have a different mindset than people in the south do. And I'm sorry to say that, but it's true. People in the south treat me differently than when I go to DC or when I go to Oregon. I really wish people were not scared of what they don't know, you know?

Lani Jennings-Hall:

no, I think you're you're exactly right. And I think this mindset shift is becoming a reoccurring theme on these interviews with the podcast. So I think you're hitting it spot on

Julie Petty:

I do want to ad, when Brian looks at me, he doesn't see my disibility. He sees his wife, the mother of his kids, you know? He doesn't focus on my disability.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

Exactly.

Julie Petty:

He is the best ally I've ever had.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

That's and again, that goes right to it. It's family life. You need your spouse to be your ally, your supporter. And I think that that's key and a right a right that you have. So Julie, I think my last question for you really is do you have any advice that you would offer to empower others self advocates so that they feel and acknowledge that they have the right to family life?

Julie Petty:

I thought alot this question. I feel everyone has the right to have family, but everyone has to decide for themselves. And family can look different for everyone. So I always like to say being the mom is the best job, but it's the hardest job

Lani Jennings-Hall:

I don't think that she could have said

Julie Petty:

Lani, there is one thing I didn't share under other it any better. daily struggles and challenges of and as a family, when we do go out to eat out, we experienced ableism. Ableism is the belief or attitude that people with disabilities can't do everything like everybody else. This discussion today shows that that is not true, that my boys and Brian, they totally get ableismed. They see it when the are with me.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

So can I ask how, how your boys and husband handle that when that happens at a restaurant or maybe a school or or wherever you may deal with that.

Julie Petty:

So, school, I have a couple of stories. My um, my youngest son feels he knows that I'm very good on the language that we use. When we talk about people with disabilities. So onetime at lunch, this boy was using the word handicap. And my son turned around and said, "Did you know people with disabilities don't use that word?" The boy was like, "How do you know? Do you know someone with a disability?" And my son was like, "My mom, yeah."

Lani Jennings-Hall:

Good for him!

Julie Petty:

Brian, he notices when people stare at us. So, this is kind of cheesy, but he came up with the phrase that he says to me, "Professor, we have another subject exhibiting the behavior."

Lani Jennings-Hall:

[Laughing] Leave it to the man. I love it. Well it's like one uses and kind of a it's a tool for education, and you gotta have kind of the the times to laugh there are times very different ways to handle it. I love that

Julie Petty:

my oldest senior night last year. At senior night, he didn't let me don't walk with him on this field. Because he knew people will make fun of me. So I told Logan, I respect your decision. I know you're just trying to protect me. So I didn't get the walk with Logan on Senior Night.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

That hurts my heart for you just just so I have a three year old and I'm experiencing mom life for the very first time. And so I know all those little moments are very precious.

Julie Petty:

This year I got the walk with my son, Warren. And they are they have two different personalities. I mean, Warren doesn't care what people do and as you heard in the story, he will tell them where to go. Well, not where to go, but...

Lani Jennings-Hall:

He will be educating as he is walking down the aisle.

Julie Petty:

so Okay, well thank you for let me share about ableism.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

Thank you, Julie for bringing up that point on ableism. I think it's really important and to our listeners, I do want to highlight the importance of using people first language. So for example, rather than saying disabled or wheelchair bound considering using words like people with disabilities or person using a wheelchair, remember that person comes first, I'll make sure to drop a link to a really great resource that can be found on our website in the show notes. Well, thank you so much, Julie. I really appreciate this conversation. You're welcome,

Julie Petty:

I hope I was able to educate and share some knowledge.

Lani Jennings-Hall:

At DRA, we envision in Arkansas, where people with disabilities are equal members in their communities and can dictate their lives through self determination. And as made clear in today's episode, we can't create that change without bringing self advocates to the table. If you're interested in more information, make sure to subscribe to this podcast and visit our website.