Love is the most important thing, everything else is secondary – that's what Claudia Staudt realised when she adopted her daughter. The fact that Lena has a disability was not the focus of attention at any time. Claudia Staudt wishes that her fellow human beings would see it in exactly the same way. How she copes with difficult situations, what she is particularly grateful for this year and how she otherwise rolls, she tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Claudia Staudt Age: 40 City: Wülfrath, Germany Occupation: Self-employed fitness trainer, specialist journalist Relation to the topic Impairment: My adopted daughter is in a wheelchair due to infantile cerebral palsy.
Claudia Staudt: When I find a few little things that I am grateful for. For example, when the rain break falls at the moment when I unload my daughter and her power wheelchair from the car.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Claudia Staudt: Lena's power wheelchair, as it is the only way for our eight-year-old daughter to get around independently. It is indispensable, especially for school.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Claudia Staudt: That they show honest interest and are willing to look behind the facade and accept what they see. It is not about aids, theoretical knowledge about inclusion or empty promises. It is about emphatically recognising that Lena does not feel comfortable at a children's birthday party when all the children are bouncing on a trampoline and she is just sitting next to them. It's about not looking at Lena strangely when she throws a tantrum and screams hysterically because her body isn't doing what she wants. It's about honestly accepting each person for who they are from the heart.
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Claudia Staudt: I would like to have a tool that allows me to look into my daughter's head and heart at any time, so that I know how she is doing and what she needs – even in those moments when she cannot express her emotions.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you to do so?
Claudia Staudt: Lena developed a severe anxiety disorder last year. For the first time I was completely helpless, had no idea how to do my part to make her feel better. And for the first time I was afraid that we wouldn't make it and that everything wouldn't be OK again. My trust in God, in the doctors and the support of my friends and family carried us through this situation.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future?
Claudia Staudt: Even in an exceptional situation like the Coronavirus pandemic, people with disabilities need their assistive devices as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, we have experienced that delivery times for assistive devices have become significantly longer in recent months.
If nothing would be impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why? Claudia Staudt:Samuel Koch. I have read all his books and am fascinated by his way of describing relentlessly how terrible one's situation is and at the same time radiating so much courage, joy and optimism. I wish that one day my daughter will develop the same strength and resilience as he did.
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Claudia Staudt: When we met VITA Assistenzhunde e.V. there for the first time. It was fascinating, touching and inspiring. In March, we started the reunification with Lena at VITA in the Westerwald. Lena gets the Golden Retriever lady Ypsi at her side! We are incredibly excited and grateful. (Editor's note: Ypsie has since moved in with Lena and her family. You can see how well they harmonise on Claudia Staudt's Instagram channel.)
What I finally want to say...
Claudia Staudt: Because I am so often asked about it: Yes, my husband and I knew at the time that we would take in a child with disabilities. But it was not a decision for a child with disabilities, it was a decision for Lena. We saw her, fell in love with her and wanted to be her parents. Everything else was irrelevant.