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  • Dave Howard

Able To Parent for BBC Radio 4 - Bespoken's intimate view of disabled parenting

Bespoken's latest documentary for BBC Radio 4 tells the story of Emily Rose Yates and Christopher 'CJ' Johnston, a Glasgow-based couple trying to decide if they should try for a baby.

Emily and CJ have been together four years. CJ really wants a baby but Emily - a wheelchair-user with Cerebral Palsy - has fears and barriers that she needs to overcome.

Will she be able to carry a baby? What extra strain will her disability put on her and CJ's relationship as parents? What impact will her disability have on their child as he or she grows up?

Over 37 minutes, the documentary charts their exploration, as they seek to quell these concerns and make a final decision. The couple look around them for advice and inspiration.

They meet Kelly, a powerchair-user and mum to two boys, who offers practical advice on handling trickier situations. Megan was raised by a paraplegic mother and gives a child's perspective, Listen out for the chat with artist Alison Lapper MBE - arguably Britain's highest-profile disabled parent. She shares with Emily the astonishing level of vitriol she received during her pregnancy.

In 2019, Alison's son Parys tragically died of an accidental drug overdose, aged just 19. How will this experience colour Alison's advice to Emily and CJ?

As they explore all this together, Emily increasingly realises that many of the barriers she faces are ones of perception rather than practicality.

Able To Parent was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 13th April, and is now available on BBC Sounds here.

It was produced for Bespoken by Leeanne Coyle, a talented and hugely creative Glasgow-based audio producer.

Huge thanks to Emily and CJ for allowing us to document and share this time of their lives.

There is one section of the programme - recorded way after midnight, when a 'fake baby' we lent to them them won't stop crying - that really made me realise how much we asked of them both.

Bespoken can work with you to make podcasts and other audio products for your brand or organisation.

We also offer awayday-style training and tailored support with podcast development. Just get in touch to see how we can help you.

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