Interview of Eliza Hull by Freya Bennett
I am a writer, disability advocate and musician. I have a physical disability called ‘Charcot Marie Tooth’ that I have had since I was five years old.
I fall over a lot, have muscle weakness in my whole body and walk with a different gait.
I didn’t always identify as disabled because I held onto a lot of internalised ableism. I look back and realise this was because of lack of representation of disabled people in the media.
I wish I had disabled people I could have looked up to when I was growing up but often the narrative about disability was portrayed as negative.
Tell us where the idea for Come Over to My House came from?
I created an audio series with the ABC titled ‘We’ve Got This’ which was about parenting with a disability. It became a book here in Australia and is now an international book with parents from the UK, US and Canada (becoming involved).
Because of all this work I have done on parenting with disability I have met and connected with various families across the world with different disabilities. What I found time and time again was how adaptable each family was within their home. I noticed that there wasn’t a book out there that represented all the families with disability, so that’s where the idea stemmed from. I wanted to create a book that portrayed families with disability in an authentic, bright and colourful way. I reached out to best-selling children’s author Sally Rippin and she was excited about the idea so we decided to co-write the book together. The process was extremely collaborative.
There is such diversity within the stories told, why is it important to show the diversity in the disability community?
Disability is diverse. When you meet one disabled person you meet one disabled person!
Disability doesn’t just look like one thing, there are many disabilities and with that comes varied experiences.
Why is it important to have books like this for children?
Children are the future! I still think it’s unbelievable that schools don’t teach children about disability within their curriculum. Twenty percent of the Australian population have a disability in yet there is still such a lack of representation of disability within children’s books. I really hope that this book shows children that disability is what makes this world beautiful and it’s not something to be feared.
Disability is a big part of life, so why don’t we have more of these narratives?
I believe a lot of people still see disability as something that needs to be ‘fixed’ or even ‘erased’ Families don’t know how to navigate disability because it’s still so stigmatised in society. I hope this book ignites conversations and enables families to celebrate disability.
What has the response been so far?
The responses have been incredible!! I especially love families that have reached out saying this is the representation they have been seeking. Mothers who’re Deaf that sees themselves represented on the page, a child with Autism who says it was the first book they saw themselves and their family represented. That really means a lot!
Do you have any plans for future childrens books?
Yes! I can’t say too much about it, but Sally Rippin and I have already finished our second book and hopefully it will come out in 2024.