There’s such a great not-knowing because there’s the privilege of not *needing* to know until one *must* know in the so-called abled world. I hate that word, abled, as if having disabilities means someone isn’t abled or, in the common vernacular, capable of performing tasks of worth for the self, family, or society. There’s also an unawareness about intersectionality regarding multiple disabilities, as if it’s not possible to have more than one disability. But wait, there’s more… intersectionality with disability also includes gender, culture, ethnicity, abuse history, poverty, and other marginalized groups overlapping with each other.
It’s a privilege, but it’s also insensitive and inconsiderate. I’ve written about disablism before, ie. the attitude people have against disabled people and the discrimination. The article I’m sharing talks about how so much of it isn’t blatant and in your face cruel, and may seem like it’s not a big deal to those who don’t have (or don’t accept they have) disabilities. Very often, the person that’s engaging in disablism (ableist behavior) may even think that they’re showing compassion and being kind and not realizing that they’re being condescending, rude, or even harmful to the individual and disabled community.
I can give an example or two.
I drop my cane often, sometimes in public. Yes, I keep it with me always even if I don’t need it at that second because at some point in the near future I’ll likely need it. I can’t really leave behind what’s usually my third leg. 😉 Anyway, I drop that thing frequently and there are times when I do it in public, strangers will pick it up for me.
That seems so kind and considerate, right? In that immediate moment their instinct was to pick up the cane so I wouldn’t topple over into the egg display. The problem is that they didn’t ask first. It’s a little presumptive that I can’t pick it myself, even if I may actually be in so much pain I can’t pick it up myself. Most people who haven’t been around others who use canes (or haven’t used canes themselves) don’t know where to touch the cane when picking it up, and instead pick it up by the handle… and I don’t know if they wash their hands after using the bathroom or sneezing or coughing. I simply need someone to ask,
“Hi, do you need help reaching that?”
People do that so-sorry head tilt with a pout and sorrowful expression when they hear that one of my daughters is autistic.
“Oh my god, how do you live with pain like that? I couldn’t live that way. Plus three girls? And one with Autism? I really don’t know how you can handle all of that. I couldn’t do it. But I ADMIRE YOU. You’re SUCH AN INSPIRATION.”
Not enough of an inspiration that you’d imagine yourself living with a disability or living with a child that’s disabled, apparently.
People send me tons and tons and tons and tons of advice from anti-modern medicine and anti-doctors and anti-education and anti-science propaganda web sites that they think will “cure” my pain and depression as well as my daughter’s Autism, and my other daughter’s ADHD. If I take the time to respond and actually refute the trash with proof and science, the response is usually,
“Yeah, but what if? So and so said that they used it and after six months they felt better, and their cousin’s friend was actually cured!”
Mmm hmm. What if. What if the snake oil salesmen are right, and all of those hundreds and all of those thousands of dollars of tainted “essential” oils I’m supposed to use for the rest of my life are a great “cure.” Along with the food supplemental companies that are so much better than actually eating real food, that really want you to join and sell their food-like products that are packed fully of allergens. Not to mention the insistence on avoiding real medicine for special filtered waters you can only buy from wherever. All of this instead of eating real good whole foods and exercise that’s tolerable with good medical care. Everyone else has the cures. Everyone else knows The Cause and who to blame.
My favorite is,
“Exercise helps. That Lyrica commercial says a body in motion stays in motion. How active are you, like REALLY? You ought to join a gym and try Lyrica.”
Yeah-no. All my nope. That commercial is irresponsible, and I could throw a tantrum about it right now, but that’s not the point of this particular post. It’s the disablism in the meaning well, the knowing better, the feeling so sorry, forgetting to ask permission, and so much more.
And here, now, is the post that inspired me from The Caffeinated Autistic. Much more eloquent than I managed to be.