I want to write about a most painful subject. For me, it is one I have dealt with most of my life, and that is Ableism.
Ableism is both the practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities; and a set of practices and beliefs that assign inferior value to people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities.
An ableist society is said to be one that treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of ‘normal living’, which results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve 'standard' people, thereby inherently excluding those with various disabilities.
In extreme cases, morality, worth and intelligence may even be equated to being able-bodied or able-minded, while disability is conflated with immorality, stupidity, and worthlessness, and disabled lives may be devalued. The eugenics movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, which took its most extreme form in Nazi Germany, was a product of this belief, and some believe the ‘right to die’ movement is also an outgrowth of ableist beliefs.
What has been most painful for me lately, is that on a personal level, someone who I trusted entirely; my priest; has entirely treated me in this ableist fashion and has not been there as a support during a most trying time for me.
I did my best to educate this person about my disability. I provided information online about ACC and autism several times. I happen to know that he never even looked at any of it, never even considered it. When I brought up my disability, he laughed it off and said "everyone is a little bit crazy." ACC and ASD are not just "a little bit autistic" but biological and neurological disorders that make a difference in how I function (or not) and how I can show up in the world. To understand these differences is to understand me better, to be able to relate to me on my level.
All of my life, I have been forced to "measure up" to an impossible standard, and when I did not, I was judged immoral, imperfect, broken, lazy, whiny, stupid and much worse. But to be treated that way by those who are supposed to love you unconditionally is beyond repulsive. What damage it does to the soul is unfathomable.
I will write more in depth about this, as I am quite passionate about it, for now I just wanted to broach the subject, as it is really on my heart and mind.
More to come...