11 Comments

  1. Paige
    June 4, 2018 @ 11:13 am

    Bravo, Carrie. Bravo❤️

    Reply

  2. Cindy
    June 4, 2018 @ 11:37 am

    Yes! Yes! yes! Brava Carrie!!

    Reply

  3. Molly
    June 4, 2018 @ 11:39 am

    Oh you’ve given me so much to think about. I’ve spent the first year of HS thanking kids for being kind to Ben. Hmmmmm. This is very good. Very, very good.

    Reply

    • Whit
      June 4, 2018 @ 1:39 pm

      Love this! I too am tired of the articles of praise when people are just being kind. Why is it charitable when someone is kind to someone who is different? I’m all for kindness, but the “pats on the back” for treating people fairly are getting ridiculous!

      Reply

  4. Merceda
    June 4, 2018 @ 12:50 pm

    Very timely. Just had a play date yesterday and, while I’m grateful for the other girl spending time and ‘putting up with’ my aspie, the other girl should be grateful that my aspie put up with her, too. We’ve all got worts! I bet Jack could be fun to hang with. He may come up with the cure for male pattern baldness. 🙂

    Reply

  5. GP
    June 4, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

    I agree 100%. In the disability community, there is a term called “inspiration porn.” Often when news outlets tell the story of a neurotypical person doing something “nice” for a disabled person, the disabled person just serves as a prop to make neurotypical folks feel good and inspired.

    In these news reports, the disabled person tends to be used as a prop for a “feel-good story”, and no details regarding this individual as a person are provided in the article. The disabled person is almost never interviewed, while lots of details pertaining to and interviews with the neurotypical person are included.

    This kind of reporting is rooted in ableism. Ableism is a term that refers to prejudice and discrimination based on a person’s perceived ability to be productive and conform in a society that values productivity and conformity or “normalcy”. In other words, in an ableist society, the worth of a person and respect for that person depends directly on their ability to achieve (academically and professionally) and to fit in.

    The more I read about ableism, the more I see how much subconscious, internalized ableism many of us possess. I have been trying to increase my own awareness and to help make others around me more aware of ableism because it plays a direct role in exacerbating someone’s disability. This is in part because disability may be viewed as a societal or a medical construct.

    With the medical construct, disability is seen as mostly caused by something intrinsic to the individual (such as a disease, disorder, injury, etc.). With the societal construct, a large part of disability is viewed as a result of barriers that are imposed by society. Hence, the removal of these barriers to access and acceptance should progressively decrease disability.

    A very simplified example would be the case of a person who is paralyzed and who has to use a wheelchair to get around. Based on a medical view of disability, the person is disabled because they cannot walk and access a place with lots of stairs. Therefore, their disability would prevent them from working in a building with stairs. However, the lack of a ramp would be a societal cause of the disability, and hence, that part of the disability will be overcome by removing this barrier to access. Nobody would tell the person to try harder to get up the stairs or to try to get some sort of surgery or therapy to try to overcome being paralyzed. Yet, in autism, this is often the case.

    In autism, the burden is often placed on the individual, and efforts are frequently directed towards changing the person. Individuals on the spectrum often go through therapies designed to make them look, act, speak, socialize, and think more like the norm. They are often asked to try harder, get more therapy, and to “just get over” sensory sensitivities and “picky” eating and to just go with the flow. Often, privileges are removed if individuals fail to comply, which tends to cause anxiety and frustration.

    And then, when the person develops generalized anxiety, low self-esteem, even lower frustration tolerance, meltdowns, depression, and PTSD, they are often told to just get over that, too. Of course, they are expected to be able to get over it with pure willpower and by suffering negative consequences, and not with the help of medications that could potentially positively affect their specific neurochemistry. That is ableism.-

    It is internalized ableism that makes us believe that someone can only get to achieve the things they wish to achieve if they act more neurotypically first. It is ableism if we expect that someone can and should only choose the “usual” path to achieve their dreams. We should ask what barriers to access are present, and how do we remove those barriers so that my loved one can live a happy and fulfilled life?

    So, yeah, I wholehearted agree with you. We can and should make sure that our loved ones “travel through life with dignity and self-respect.” Why should it be newsworthy that someone chooses to spend time with my child? Why should it be assumed that everybody can, should, and would want to participate in sports? Also, I wonder why should “quiet hands” and eye contact be the norm, and why should someone spend money on so-called therapy that forces a child into complying? This, too, is ableism. The resulting anxiety and self-esteem issues and learned inability to say “no” as a result of forced compliance “therapies” do not decrease disability but they add to it.

    I am sorry, this was lengthy even by my standards. Thank you for your time, and thank you for writing about this issue!

    Reply

    • Whit
      June 4, 2018 @ 1:43 pm

      Also wonderfully written!

      Reply

    • Molly Fliearman
      June 5, 2018 @ 9:08 am

      Nice reply. More to think about. Thank you!

      Reply

  6. Lisa
    June 4, 2018 @ 2:55 pm

    You have managed to put into words exactly how I feel about those articles! You’re such a gifted and talented writer. Thank you for another important blog, Carrie. Jack is so lucky you’re his mama.

    Reply

  7. Kathy Ross
    June 4, 2018 @ 6:13 pm

    You words always make me think. I think about what my Grandson will think about when he is 14. He is only 8 now but sometimes I just watch him stare off and I wonder what fabulous thoughts are you thinking. Thank you for being you and sharing with me. Kathy

    Reply

  8. Mary Evelyn Smith
    June 5, 2018 @ 10:10 pm

    Love this post. I know this is lighthearted but have you seen this SNL sketch from a few years ago? I love it because it addresses this exact scenario in a way that highlights how hurtful the charity/praise mentality can be when applied to people who don’t have a disability. I think it’s such a helpful watch for friends who struggle to understand why articles like the one you mentioned are problematic. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfwwCpAy0-0 Give it a watch if you haven’t seen it.

    Reply

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