Synonyms for disability – unwell, unfit, poor shape, invalid, weakness, detriment, inexperience. I’ll be honest, I was heartbroken when I went to the thesaurus and looked it up. I knew it wouldn’t be GOOD things, but now I understand why sometimes society thinks less of people with disabilities. It’s in the definition. Now, I’m not saying create a new word for disability, because that’s going overboard. But I do want to share some lies you believe about people with disabilities – keeping in mind every disability is different and some experiences are different than mine, but many of us do get these all the time.
- I’m very smart, I can hear, and I can see. Just because I have a physical disability, doesn’t mean I have a hearing or visual impairment, mental disability or a learning disability. And just because someone has more than one type of disability doesn’t make them any less of a person. You don’t have to shout at me to get my attention, or ask my best friend what I want to eat, or talk to me in a condescending tone. I’ll know. And I’ll politely tell you that it’s not necessary. I’ve heard stories of deaf people asking for accessibility and getting a wheelchair. How does that help a deaf person?
- We do leave our houses. We do go out and have fun. I have plenty of going out stories that will rival any able-bodied person’s. Some of us have jobs. Although, the employment rate for people with disabilities is extremely low – I’ll write about that monster in another blog. We go on dates, we hang out with friends, go to bars, concerts, and do everything an able-bodied person does. Because we’re humans that have the same kind of interests.
- I am 27 years old. I like boys. Many people with disabilities are in relationships and plenty of us are not in relationships with other people with disabilities. I’ve dated both able-bodied men and men with disabilities. Both are valid choices, both can be great husbands (because my main goal is marriage and babies – ask my best friend… I have the worst case of baby fever) Yes, many of us can have children and are terrific, capable mothers and fathers. You don’t need to be able to stand in order to take care of children. (It’d be useful, but it’s not necessary). And no, none of my boyfriends had to take care of me. I’m an independent woman.
- I am independent. I can live on my own. I can cook, clean, do my laundry, dishes, and kill spiders. I can dress myself, take a shower and even get into my bed. I’m actually pretty good at sleeping. Yes, it’s nice for some help, but too much help squanders not only independence but confidence as well. I’m confident I can live on my own because I was allowed to be independent. I don’t second guess myself when I’m cooking (mac and cheese, cuz let’s face it – I shouldn’t be around fire and knives ever).
The biggest lie of all – I am not suffering from my disability. I don’t live despite my disability. I’m not chained to my wheelchair. I am free – because of my wheelchair – to live independently as any 27 year old would do. I don’t constantly fantasize about what it’d be like to walk. I don’t dream about walking, and it might be different based on the person, and I’m not saying if God performed a miracle I wouldn’t be blessed and thankful. I’m saying I’m comfortable with my disability, educating others about my disability, and life with a disability. There are plenty of us who have reached acceptance. I can’t miss what I’ve never had. I’m not unfit, weak, or invalid.