Disability Living Allowance (otherwise known as the form needing Dastardly Lengthy Answers) has been revisiting our household. We filled in our first form when Smiling Flower was three months old. Now she is two we are being reassessed. The form is HUGE! Typically, I received it a few months ago, misread the opening letter and decided I had generously been given months to send it back. So it was ‘filed’ in a heap by the side of the bed. I then realised, as it nagged quietly in the back of my ‘to do’ list, that it takes 6 weeks to turn around and needed to be sent off ASAP.
The thing about DLA is that it asks you to think about everything that is wrong with your child, everything that limits your child, everything that your child can’t do. And it took me a solid week of evenings and snatched moments in the day to fill it out. It is, without doubt, a miserable process even though the outcome (financial help) is extremely useful.
I looked on line for some guidelines and, if you are a fellow DLAer, I can’t recommend these two forms enough: the first is a government production A guide to claiming disability allowance for children and the second an NDCS factsheet: Supporting evidence for DLA claims. I feel I have also tackled the process with some additional help that means a lot to me; my Dad, who was a passionate campaigner on certain quirky issues. He was a ‘letter writer’ and from time to time harangued our local council and generally kept them on their toes. He also helped me write letters and my first ‘CV’s’ to send off to various colleges. I thought about him a lot the week of the DLA form as I tried to be succinct and to cram smiling flowers existence into little boxes over 30+ pages.
Anyway, after a week of talking different sections through with Pete, writing our answers, compiling a diary and finally proof reading the whole thing I was delighted to find one of the final paragraphs on the government guide:
‘Reward yourself when the form is finished. Completing the DLA form can be time consuming and because you are concentrating on the things your child can’t do, stressful and demoralising. But if you get the DLA it will be worth it in the end’
I love it! The government has officially told me to reward myself! So, Smiling Flower and I did blow away the blues of the week by walking into Chesham on a sunny day and treating ourselves to a coffee, juice and a chocolate treat ;o)
Is it true that nothing in life is free or that the best things in life are free? For me, in this moment, both philosophies are true. DLA is ‘free’ but it comes at a huge price: the disability of our child, who we both love with a fierce, protective love. But if it allows me to continue to work part time, to take her to all her appointments and have time for all our ‘homework’ – well that is priceless.