You know what really rubs me wrong? Articles written about the “broken” disabled.
You knows what makes the rub worse? When it’s written by a parent of a child with a disability and they are supposedly trying to make things better in the world for their child.
If you have a child with a disability that you are not familiar with, or if you are not familiar with disability point blank, your focus on everything that you find negative about it isn’t going to do one little bit of good to anyone, least of all your child.
Remember that those of us with disabilities have said time and again that having a disability isn’t what sucks overall: it’s the CULTURAL PERCEPTION of disability that sucks.
It’s ACCESS that sucks.
It’s trying to access a conference call and you *can’t* because you are deaf and no one particularly gives a shit in the moment that you can’t hear or participate.
Being deaf doesn’t suck; being excluded is what sucks.
We are not broken!
What about Down syndrome is broken?
Is it the communication differences? Since when is difference “broken”? Are we going to start saying that Indians from India are “broken” because they speak English differently than we do in the United States?!
What about Cerebral palsy is broken?
Is it being spastic? Or a toe-first gait? Again, since when is difference “broken”?
Why not just call the duck-toed walk of a ballerina “broken”? It’s the same thing – only being a ballerina is culturally acceptable so we think it’s beautiful. If having Cerebral palsy was culturally acceptable, the spasticity and toe-first gaits might also be considered beautiful.
We Create Culture
Culture is not something that is handed down to us from heaven: it’s created by us. We are the ones who make culture. We mold it, the lot of us, all of us.
The stuff we put out there is the stuff that shapes the forces of culture and the minute you start putting those “broken” messages out there is the minute you start contributing to the negative flow of water that tries to drown those of us with disabilities.
If any of us wants to truly do something good for our kids, or truly make society a better place, getting rid of that “broken” mentality is a good place to start.
I am not broken.
I can’t hear much, I process sound in my own way, I have flashbacks, terrible dreams, panic attacks, I swing from depression to powerful bursts of creativity, I shut down with certain lighting systems and I need music to be productive.
But I am not broken.
And neither is your child.
Meriah is the deaf, single mom of 3 kids (one gifted 2E, one with Down syndrome). A longtime career counselor, teacher and disability advocate, she loves helping to create community and empower parents, people with disabilities (and of course, parents with disabilities).