#flipthenarrative – Interview with blogger Elly Chapple from Can Do Ella.

#flipthenarrative – Interview with blogger Elly Chapple from Can Do Ella.


Elly Chapple is a renowned speaker having
appeared at events such as FestABLE and the recent Working Together conference.
She’s also a well-known blogger on her blog Can Do Ella. Her #flipthenarrative has stormed Twitter. In this video I chat to Elly about how we as
parents need to learn to trust our instinct, how her daughter Ella is her
therapy, and what flipthenarrative is all about. She also shares where her
positive outlook comes from. Stay tuned and hear from the inspiring Elly Chapple. Hi Elly thank you so much for joining me
across Skype. I wanted to speak to you primarily about this beautiful blog that
you recently wrote called the “shoeness of a shoe” which I think was on the
Special Needs Jungle website? Yes that’s right. In the very first paragraph you say “there are
some remarkable children out there who need to be heard, they teach us” and I
think as parents sometimes or indeed caring for anybody you come to
sometimes feel that we need professionals to teach us, to be able to
understand the person that we care for. We kind of end up feeling like we need
to rely on other people. When in fact I think what you’re saying is, it’s the
person themselves that teaches us? Yes absolutely. I think probably the biggest
thing I learned on my journey with my daughter is to trust yourself as a
parent and actually that the child that’s walking with you on that path
very much teaches you everyday about the things you need to know, whether it’s to
do their disability or their difference in life. I think generally in society
we’re encouraged to think there’s always an expert in something, that there’s an
expert in this or that or the other. And I did and still do consult with
experts, and professionals are really supportive, but I think the ‘experts by
experience’ that parents become, essentially are the key to
a lot of the situations that actually could become much more co-produced, to
use one of the terms that are out there at the minute. Because actually we
intrinsically know our children, we have an intuition with them, we understand
them, we are with them 24 hours a day, we see every kind of situation, we
experience every kind of feeling alongside them. And I think what that does is it develops your inner knowledge, and then
you go and you research it. And the things that make sense, and you find
the things that don’t quite fit So experts are really useful but I think
‘experts by experience’ are often overlooked. And I think for professionals it’s
really supportive if they can also view parents as that absolute key in the
middle of everything, alongside the child, who will work day and night to find the
solution. But I do think parents themselves need to get over this sort of
imposter syndrome around it. Yes. We all sit there thinking, you know, there’s this
little voice on my shoulder saying, who do you think you are, what are you doing
challenging this person, you know you don’t have all those letters after your
name. And it’s it doesn’t matter. You know that child, you’re their parent, you’re
the closest thing to them and you’ve got to trust yourself. And I think my
daughter’s really taught me to trust myself. She’s made me very brave, she’s
made me jump off a cliff and sort of put my thoughts out there. There’s no
absolute right and there’s no absolute wrong. There is what works for each individual.
Absolutely. I think one of the challenges we face with doing that, and again this
is something that you speak about so beautifully in this blog, and I’m going
to quote you again. You say that, “we need to take the time to reflect about our
assumptions and give pause for thought and time for space to be and understand
what our children are teaching us”. And it’s this space and time and thought
which I think is one of the biggest challenges we face when, sometimes we
spend much of our day just keeping the person that we love alive.
Absolutely and I totally agree with that. And I think it’s really difficult
nowadays in particular because everybody’s got so much stress
and so many different demands on their plate. And that can be teachers, parents,
professionals, whoever. But it’s really important to take those moments and just
stop before you make an absolute assumption about something, and just
think about it from all different angles. And think about it from the perspective of
that child, and what they’re feeling. If they’re under threat, if they’re ill, if
they’re feeling stressed. Why? Why is such a big question. Children ask “why” all the
time. And it’s going back to those simple messages and thinking about it
ourselves. I don’t think there’s any kind of rocket
science in it I think it’s just taking a breath and saying, do you know what, I’m
gonna put myself right down there. I’m going take a breath and I’m going think
about this. And it is really difficult to do. It’s not easy at all. And I don’t get
it right all the time either, but I do with Ella, get the chance to really
reflect. And I think what she taught me about is that assumptions can be dangerous and I
think we all have to really think carefully, listen really hard, look a
little wider, go and do some research, come back to it. You don’t need to make a
knee-jerk sort of decision there and then. And she’s taught me to slow down.
She taught me to take the time in a world where time seems to be, nobody has
time. But actually we do because there are still 60 minutes in an hour, 60
seconds in a minute. Children evolve at a pace that they evolve, and it doesn’t matter what we do, we’re not going speed that up. You talk about
mindfulness there. Is that something that you practice yourself? Err no! I think being
with my daughter is like therapy for me. Because she is mindful. And it isn’t
something I’ve taught her, it’s the way she is. She just is acting in a time and
space at a certain pace that works for her. And she can’t do it any faster and
she cannot operate at the speed our world goes. So when I’m with her
everything else has to wait. There is no interruptions. You cannot do that, she won’t tolerate it. And I’ve learnt to put everything down
and I just come away from it the end of it and I think, wow I’m really tired, because
she’s at a point in her journey where she’s learning to communicate and it’s
really, she’s working so hard at it. And then I come away from it I think, wow I
haven’t worried about this, I haven’t thought about that, I put that down and I
feel really good. Yes. So actually it’s being supported I think for families to
be able to do that with their children. I can think about families who might say,
well I’m not in that position and I don’t have those supports. I understand
that, I get that. And I’m not saying we have it perfect by a long shot, but I
think what we’ve done is worked to the point where we’ve been able to get some
of that time and space. And I’ve been able to learn so much from her because
we really didn’t have a choice. You know when you’re your faced with the trauma and adversity Ella had we had to find a way back up the hill, and all these things
had to come into sharp focus. It was literally, what are we going to do?
And because she was in a constant fight flight and freeze response cycle, she was
she was very much you know, it was daily, we had to find a way out of that as well.
So we had to slow everything down, we had to literally park the brakes. We had to
become quite fortress-like with everybody else around us, and say these
are the rules, this is what happens, she needs to heal, this is what we’re
doing, this is goal. And that has become the routine and the way we live. It’s
really beneficial. Beneficial because it’s supported her to a point where
she’s now in a totally different place. Beneficial to me because I’ve learnt
about slowing down, I’ve learned to recognise my limitations That I’m
absolutely not perfect, not that I ever thought I was. And that it’s really
supportive for my family because she stayed with us and so we’ve got a strong
family. And my younger children have developed a sense of empathy that I
don’t think I could ever have taught them. And their kindness and compassion around
other children because they have their sister in their lives, is outstanding.
It makes me so proud. I have literally not taught them,
they’ve learned that by watching her, looked at what she does, they’re
interested in what she does, it’s helped them have a much slower childhood in
many ways. Nancy Gedge I think I reference in the blog, she wrote a beautiful blog
about it. Explaining that, you know siblings who
have disability for the other siblings, it does actually allow them to have that
time and space, it does actually let them put the brakes on life and actually have
that longer childhood. You strike me as somebody who sees things through a very
positive lens, and I’m sure that’s something that’s come over time. But you
very much see things from not from a deficit or what somebody can’t do, but
what they can do and what’s possible for Ella. Is that where the #flipthenarrative came from? Yes, yeah I’ve got friends particularly on Twitter
they will laugh when you say that. I am the eternal positive person. I think I drive them crazy with it. I can’t help it. It’s partly to do with my
upbringing. My parents I have to say were a big part of that. I grew up around
diversity, I never knew anything different. And then having a child like
Ella who was my first child, and you know all the sort of worries of having a baby
anyway, and then somebody tells you there’s sort of additional things to
consider. I did spend two years being very angry and very upset and I
wasn’t positive, I was very negative. And what happened I think was one day I just
woke up and thought you know I’m just not actually going anywhere. I’m making
myself miserable, making my family miserable. I’m just angry you know it’s
not actually getting me where I need to go. If I really want to do something
about this then I need to do something. And it just flipped in my head. And the
flip the narrative came about with my first presentation at FesABLE last year,
which Barney Angliss invited me to, and I had never done anything like it before.
And I got up and I just spoke from the heart. And the flipthenarrative
literally came to me the week prior and I just thought that’s what I’m trying to
say. I need to turn this conversation around. Really you know everybody matters
that’s what I’m trying to say. That’s all it is. That I don’t see difference as being a
problem. Which is why I want to turn it round because it isn’t a problem it’s
just that we’ve got into this deficit conversation at times and it’s become
very complicated. But the children aren’t. The children are still children. You know.
We can learn so much from the way they view it. Well where do you see this hashtag going? What are you hoping it’s going to do? Erm, Global?! I’m sure it already is, isn’t it? I don’t know. I would like to think that it would really help shape the whole narrative and change the
conversation that’s happening in society. I’d really like to think that together,
and it’s not just me it’s it’s the wider group there’s so many people doing
amazing things, and lots of things link in. That we can actually shape this and
move it to where it needs to go. Which is really about, its equality, it’s respect,
its humanity. I always say, you know, with we’re different but we’re the
same, because we’re one, were human. And that’s really important. We are. And I
think nowadays so many things are happening in our world to set us up to
be segregated from one another and actually, why are we letting that happen?
Because we’re stronger together. It doesn’t matter what differences we have
it really doesn’t. You know we can work around that. It’s just about staying
together because we are one. And and that’s really
where I want it to go, I want it to just empower people to do things a little bit
differently. I don’t have all the answers I’m just saying here’s the permission to
go and do something positive you know. Go and be empowering. Go and change that. Do that tiny little thing. I think every single ripple eventually leads to a
tidal wave of change. We’ve only been on Twitter a year and I feel like I found
my tribe. And everybody’s been so positive. I’m grateful to so many people
I couldn’t list how many people I’m grateful to, they know who they are. Well I think I think there’s a probably a huge amount of thanks need to
go back your way too, so thank you for everything that you’re doing and I think
everybody who’s watching is going to be hugely inspired by you. So thank you very
much for chatting to me. Thanks for asking me Jenny. And we’re definitely do it
again. All right no worries, thanks Jenny. Bye.

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