disability discussion

Guest blogger Amandaw at Feministe has been writing some incredible posts about disability, about who gets to define what it means to be “disabled,” and a whole lot of related issues.  At times I’ve been surprised to find how much of the material resonated with my own experiences.The clip below had me nodding furiously and almost shouting out loud “This!! Yes, exACTly!! This is what it’s like!!”
clipped from www.feministe.us
When we encounter a person, we expect that person to be abled. When we imagine a “person” — just a generic, default person — we imagine that person as able-normative.
Currently, things go like this: 1. World expects “normal.” 2. Non-normal people come along. 3. Oops!
What disabled people want is more like this: 1. World is prepared for any number of different things. 2. We come along. 3. Hey, we were expecting you!
This approach is what defines the disability movement. We want to change the world so that the world stops treating us as unexpected — and therefore a disappointment — and therefore has not prepared for us — and therefore we have to constantly fight with the world to make it change every little individual thing it has set up wrong.

It’s not often that I describe myself as a disabled person. My medical conditions fall under the “invisible” category, and can be labeled “disorders” or “chronic conditions” or some other less alarming term.  On the surface I look like a healthy individual capable of fully participating in life and society.  I’m considered “very high-functioning for someone with those conditions.” Yet how often I have been made to feel as though I was in that “oops” category, the not-normal.  Made to feel ashamed or lazy or free-loading for asking for accomodations, put in the position of having to plead and petition and protest for my basic needs to be met.  That I ought to just feel grateful for how “high functioning” I’m able to be, and quit complaining, because a lot of people have it a lot worse and I should just suck it up and not expect any extra favors.

I may write more about this in the future.  I may not.  I’m grateful for other bloggers who are bravely talking openly about their own experiences with disability; it’s good to know others struggle with this issue too.

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