Division is everywhere in this world; it is part of our everyday lives. There are always two sides to an issue. Sometimes one side is clearly right, while other times there is merit to both sides. I am writing about the divisions in the disabled world, because that is what I deal with every day—good and bad.
There are a few examples of it that I am going to go over that will describe the struggle of the disabled everywhere in the world.
Disabled people have it rough these days, and most of the time this is attributed to the fact that the disabled are most often misunderstood. The disabled are not only misunderstood, but the majority of the time they are outright not thought of or considered at all. We, as fully capable, take for granted the things in life that are just so day-to-day, they are so easy we don’t even have to think about them. For the disabled, however, almost everything is a challenge, and nothing is so easy that they don’t have to think about it, let alone it be easy. For the disabled, it is a struggle every day; nothing is easy. Don’t get me wrong, some days are easier than others—but no day is completely easy.
There are visible disabilities and there are non-visible disabilities, and even in the disabled community there is a division. I want to point out that just because you can’t see a disability, it doesn’t mean there isn’t one. To name a few disabilities you can’t see: there is autism, head injuries, PTSD, and mental health. For people struggling with these conditions, the unsympathetic reaction from the general public can be quite overwhelming, if not altogether disheartening. The last thing the people struggling with these conditions need is for the general public to treat them like second-class citizens, and, far worse, discriminate against them.
The lack of compassion in the world today is staggering; it is also sickening if I am being honest. At the very least, people with disabilities just want to be treated equally, and most times that’s all they want—they aren’t asking for special treatment. Don’t get me wrong, they appreciate special treatment, but they hardly ever ask for it.
One of the things that bothers a disable person the most is another disabled person treating them unfairly. What I mean is that the visibly disabled also discriminate against the non-visibly disabled. A simple example of this is the handicapped parking space at any retail establishment. I have witnessed a visibly disabled person shame a non-visibly disabled person for taking a parking space they didn’t think was deserved. To me, if you are legally disabled you should be able to take advantage of those spaces, and that is that. The disability shamming needs to stop no matter if it is coming from a non-disabled or a visibly disabled person.
I have stepped in to come to the aid of a non-visibly disabled person on a few occasions in my life, and whether it was right or not I shamed the other person just to show their ignorance. I know I maybe should have handled things differently, but if you are going to do this to someone else I am going to do to you what you are doing to them. I have found in life that if you don’t force someone to think of something, they will often not do it themselves.
The second instance I want to speak about is the division in the autism community. This division happens because of the wide range of the spectrum itself. People and parents on either side of the spectrum often do things differently because the situations are far different. I have the perspective of both, because I have children on either side, so it comes easy to me—but others only see the side they are on. I always say we are all on the same team, so we should stick together; but that is easier said than done. The fact is that most children on the low end of the spectrum are often nonverbal and are also far more severely affected. They have almost no possibility of being anywhere close to normal. There are exceptions to that rule, but the majority of the time if you are on the low side you stay that way. Now if you are on the high side, it is far easier to overcome the disability and you are able to lead a more normal life by way of work-around and added skills.
The biggest divisions in the autism community come from advocacy and from treatment. On the treatment side, there are various diets, biomedical, and supplemental treatments that have shown some success. But all autistic children are different, and what works for some doesn’t work for others. In almost all cases, these treatment methods have a low success rate for people on the low end of the spectrum. The problem arises when a parent of a child on the low end of the spectrum asks for help. People from the high end often suggest these treatments that are not likely to work. I take issue with this, because these treatments are expensive, and worse than that you are giving others false hope, and that is the worst thing you can do. I don’t mind if you are going to suggest it, but think about what you are advising someone else to do. If you are not going to give the true facts, you are not helping at all. The biggest issue I have with this subject is that the pro-diet, pro-biomed people are often militant and push it on others. Whenever I give advice, I only say what has worked for me and why, but I also speak of the negatives so that the people who have asked me for help can make an educated choice.
On the advocacy side of things, the people with great talents are always pushed to the forefront and shown as examples of what an autistic person is supposed to look like. I am always happy to see that an autistic person has a great talent, but I also believe you need to say that there are also everyday struggles that come with that gift. If you don’t give the public the real story, you are not helping.
The other aspect that needs to be shown is how bad it is for someone on the low end of the spectrum, because this would give the public a real idea of the story. The old saying “bad publicity is better than no publicity” is sometimes true; however, I think there still needs to be more. Because of these issues, and the ones stated above, there is a division in the autism community—and I think we should just all work together for the common good and stop the fighting amongst ourselves.
I work with the physically disabled, and I have two autistic children, so I know a lot about disabilities. I love to see all the feel-good stories of the handicapable instead of the handicapped, but let’s not forget that we are all on the same team, and that we all have to work together. We need to show the world that we are all capable of great things, but we are also limited. We are not asking for handouts or special treatment; we are asking to be treated equally. For those in the disabled world, I ask that you not only advocate for yourself and your own unique situation, but for all. If we all live and work together as equals, we will create a much better world for everyone.
[Photo credit to Erik Voigt]
Like what you read? “Heart” this story above, comment below, or consider submitting your own story!