PBS Documentary Explores Shortcomings Of Disability Support System

by Shaun Heasley, Disability Scoop | July 26, 2022

Christine Hanberg with her brother Peter in the documentary “He’s My Brother,” which airs next month on PBS. (Katinka Hustad)

What happens when a family is left to care for an adult who is deaf, blind and has autism without support? That’s the focus of a new documentary that’s set to premiere on national television.

The 60-minute film “He’s My Brother” follows co-director Christine Hanberg and her family as they look at what their future holds with her brother Peter, 31, who has multiple disabilities.

Until five years ago, Peter attended a day center, but when it closed, his care fell completely on his family. Peter’s mother quit her job to care for him full time while his father works and Christine helps as much as she can.

“Weeks and months went on, so I grabbed the camera and started filming because I could not comprehend how much responsibility we as relatives have to take when the system fails,” Christine Hanberg said. “Now, seven years have gone by and we still haven’t gotten any help at all. Not even one offer for day care for Peter and I see so many people struggling with the broken system.”

Christine Hanberg notes that Denmark, where her family lives, has one of the richest welfare states in the world, but still fails to help people like Peter.

The documentary shows how Peter experiences life through touch, smell and taste and explores Christine’s worries about becoming her brother’s primary caregiver when her parents are gone.

“It happens all over the world,” she said. “I hope that our film can start a discussion about basic human rights for people with disabilities and about how big a responsibility we as relatives should take. For my part, I will be there for my brother anytime. But what about those who do not have the opportunity or the time in their lives? If the system doesn’t help. Who will, then?”

“He’s My Brother” will have its national broadcast premiere Aug. 1 on POV on PBS and will stream for free at pbs.org and on the PBS Video app until Sept. 1.

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