Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I've heard others talk about the "hierarchy" of disability, and I have met folks with developmental disabilities who wish to separate themselves from people they see as "more disabled" than themselves, but I do often forget that people with disabilities have to deal with disphobia from people without disabilities as well as disphobia from others with disabilities.
I was suddenly reminded of this tonight.

I have been taking a sign language class so that I might be better able to communicate using asl. There are a variety of students in the class, some "traditional" college aged students, and others who are older or "non-traditional." One of my fellow non-traditional students has spoken briefly here and there about her daughter who was recently in an accident. Apparently her daughter has some paralysis due to the accident and is now using a wheelchair, they are both newly acquainted with life among disphobics and the accommodations that now have to be made.

Anyway, this evening as we were leaving our final class, my classmate was talking about how excited she was as she and her daughter just went out to eat for the first time. She talked about the fears they had before going out and the things they were doing differently now. She talked about her daughter's independence and how she fed herself for the first time and everyone was excited. She also talked about how upsetting it was that everyone stared, and it happened everywhere. At that point I interjected a little about how people sometimes react and recommended some of the disability blogs and groups that are out there. But then, it happened, she talked about her daughter's response to someone who was staring...upon becoming frustrated she said to a man "What the F**** are you looking at? I'm not F****** r*tarded ya know!" My class mate expressed being embarrassed that her daughter yelled, but she saw nothing wrong with what she said. I bit my tongue and walked away as this mother did not need a lecture from me this evening, but anyone else would have heard a mouth full! It's just always so shocking to me that for whatever reason, developmental disability is somehow seen as the lowest of the low, as if it couldn't possible get any "worse" than that, how somehow if that were the case staring and rudeness would be acceptable.

I don't really have an end to this blog or words of wisdom to offer anyone, I think I'm still shocked and disappointed...so, there you have it.

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