Special Needs

Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities and as inferior to the non-disabled. ~ Wikipedia

I made the mistake of reading comments on an Instagram post in favor of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They were mostly positive. But, there was one naysayer who stood out for his initial lack of vitriol. He was just mildly snarky. But, it was like he had committed some heinous sin, instead of posting a disagreement rooted in ignorance.

He was immediately under attack. Mostly the responses remained as snarky comebacks. However, one of them made me cringe.

It sounds like your boss is good at hiring people with special needs.

I couldn’t scroll past without addressing it.

Back in the day, the insult used was, “retard,” frequently accompanied by a physically mocking action. Much like 45’s mocking actions regarding a reporter who experiences a physical disability.

Another one is, “riding the short bus.”

However you frame it, it’s showing a prejudice toward people with disabilities, especially intellectual ones.

How about how mental health challenges are referred to?

What are you, crazy?

Man, that was INSANE!

She’s so bipolar.

That one’s not right in the head.

Or the fact that so many movies and TV shows portray mental health patients as dangerous killers and all the shootings being reported as someone with mental illness, before an evaluation can be done?

The stigma and prejudices against people with physical, developmental, and mental disabilities is real and insidious. Just as we need to recognize, call out, and address racism, in all its forms, sexism, genderism, and sizism, we need to call out ableism.

It isn’t about political correctness, it’s about human rights.

For more on my perspective on ableism, go here.


Right to be wrong or wrong to be right?

Why is it we feel the need to invalidate and disregard others who don’t think and have the same preferences as we do? I ask this using the inclusive because I realize I do it too.

When I posted the movie review about Daybreakers, there were several comments made that it wasn’t the kind of movie some would ever watch due to the gore and violence. I understand that, I really do. I am not a fan of that myself. However, and maybe this is just a flawed perception on my part, some of the comments seemed to have a subtle hint of disapproval or disdain regarding these kinds of movies and those who watch them.

I’ve seen it play out over and over again, sometimes participating. One person’s preference, opinion, belief, or method is taunted, ridiculed, rejected, or shunned, treated as invalid because it goes against what another or group of others think or are accustomed to.

A friend of mine posted an article that highlighted this very thing. It was regarding one family’s history of having a lot of children with the eldest son and his wife carrying that choice forward and having a third child. Apparently there is or has been a reality show about the family, although, I’ve never seen it. The article stated that our society has a “My body, my choice,” attitude of acceptance and normality for a woman’s right to choose abortion, but not if a woman chooses to mother a large family, especially if her religious beliefs factor into her decision. Apparently, there were a lot of horrific comments made to the original article announcing the family’s expansion. Name calling, vilification, and death wishes were the message of the day.

On the flip side, we’ve all witnessed at one point or another the open hatefulness that has been displayed toward staff and clients braving the picket lines of pro-life protesters.

I don’t have the answer to the pro-choice/pro-life debate – and it isn’t the topic at hand – but I will say this: I am both pro-choice and pro-life. I believe that each and every person has the right to decide for themselves what actions they are going to take. I believe that each person’s body is their own and no one has the right to impose or determine their will over another person. I believe in the sanctity of life and that life happens for a reason. The decision to end a life, regardless of how valid or senseless the reasoning is, has far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for the one making that decision and ripples into the lives and psyches of those connected to both the life that is taken and the one doing the taking.

Moving on.

I saw a post from a group of introverts who were frustrated and upset by an article stating that in order for introverts to be happier, they need to act like extroverts. Some of their responses were as denigrating to extroverts as they were accusing the article’s author of being toward them.

Drivers vs bicyclists

Horror vs drama

Vegan/vegetarian vs carnivore

Male vs female

Generation vs generation

Rich vs poor

Science vs religion

Religion vs religion

Race vs race

The list goes on and on and on. There are a lot of prejudices and isms in our world.

We use words and phrases that could have been sung by the character, Ursula in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” Even if we don’t say it, we think it:

Those poor, unfortunate souls are mistaken, misguided, brainwashed, deceived, evil because they don’t think/look/act as we do and it makes us feel uncomfortable and somehow threatened that if their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, feelings and perspective are valid, then we are invalidated.

I am learning that right, wrong, or somewhere on the multi-colored spectrum between white and black, every human being has validity and the right to be wrong, as well as the right to believe they are right. Someone else being right only means I’m wrong if I said two plus two was anything other than four.

Even if I disagree and think someone else is wrong, I’m learning to let go of my need to be vindicated and validated by having them agree with me and tell me I’m right. I’m learning to try to understand how they arrived at their conclusions and why they believe as they do.

I am teaching, or trying to teach, Luna that how she feels is how she feels, but feeling a certain way doesn’t give her the right to treat others badly when they don’t accommodate her feelings or say and do what she thinks they should. It’s a difficult lesson to teach a four year old. It’s especially difficult to teach when confronted with the reality that it’s one I’m still learning myself.