Abuse Disability Japan Kobe

Hyogo support facility owner hopes to prevent ‘secondary disability’

"Hiroko Nomura (64), who operates a support facility for children and students who need developmental support in the city, says that Sanda City had allowed a “secondary disability”, in which the disability becomes serious depending on the surrounding environment to develop."

Written with extracts from The Kobe Shimbun

August 28th 2019

HYOGO – A disabled person was discovered confined in cage in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture last year. Hiroko Nomura (64), who operates a support facility for children and students who need developmental support in the city, says that Sanda City had allowed a “secondary disability”, in which the disability becomes serious depending on the surrounding environment to develop. At a workshop for faculty and staff that was held by the City Board of Education on August 27th, she gave a lecture for the first time on measures to prevent secondary disabilities at school.

In the case, the eldest son with severe intellectual disability was violent and the father was confined to his home cage for over 20 years. According to Nomura,  a secondary disability means that a person with developmental disability (primary disability) develops mental disorders due to stress caused by ununderstanding and bullying.

The eldest son is said to have suddenly started violence around the age of 13, and Nomura judges that “secondary disabilities are highly likely” based on the circumstances. “Even if there is a severe intellectual disability, we can communicate with hand gestures if we respond with the heart. It should not have escalated until he was locked in the cage.”

On that basis, she criticized the city’s response, which was unable to grasp the concerns of parents due to lack of handing over, as “there was no human rights, knowledge, or thoughts about persons with disabilities.”

Nomura has been living in Sanda since 1996, and established a company to support children and parents with developmental disabilities. 5 years ago, she started  operating a “Universal School”, a day service facility after school. So far, she has counseled more than a thousand children, including parents with disabilities and school refusals.

At the lecture on the 27th, Nomura proposed a preventive measure for secondary disabilities. She pointed out, “When problem behavior occurs, it is important to give reasonable consideration”.

As an example, the story of an elementary school student diagnosed with a literacy disorder is introduced. In the second and third grades, the homeroom teachers  forgot advice and instruction given by the homeroom teacher, and refusal, violence, and self-injury became serious due to secondary disabilities. In the upper grades, symptoms improved due to changes in school and parental responses. Currently, he has no homework, and he enjoys school life with “reasonable considerations”.

Reasonable consideration is stipulated in the Disability Discrimination Act of April 2016, and there are penalties. Nomura said, “Secondary disability occurs where there is an unintelligible environment. Tell the children and parents the positive aspects and strengths of the disabled, and let the teacher become a supporter rather than a leader.”

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