Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"But you don't "look" disabled..."

This is a difficult post for me to write, because this attitude is so prevalent today.  "You can't have autism...you can't have ACC...you don't "look" disabled."  I always come back and ask people "what the hell does "disabled" look like?"  The stereotypes that everyone with ASD or  ACC is "Rainman" is excruciating to bear.  (Although the real Rain man, Kim Peeks did have ACC like me.) The faces of the disabled are multitudinous and individual.  No one person with ACC or ASD is alike.

So, when I hear that ignorant comment "you don't look...." I have to remind myself that they are betraying their own ignorance.

It seems to me, that people that say this are trying to deal with their own discomfort.  They want us to be "normal" (whatever that is) otherwise, we, who look like them become a threat.  After all, if I look just like you, and I'm disabled, that means that you could be too.  The trouble is, is that this is the TRUTH...There is no "look" nor "luck" to being disabled.  An able-bodied person, could easily wake up in the morning "normal" and get hit by a truck, struck by a disease and become disabled.  Yet, those of us born with disabilities cannot wake up one day being able.  This is the hard truth that many do not want to look at, and find threatening.

People also look at me, because I drive, I can bathe myself, cook meals for myself and think "well, he can do all that, so he can't be disabled."  But the facts are, I can't drive at night or long distances, become easily confused driving, I forget to bathe and brush my teeth on a regular basis, and have great difficulty managing healthy meals of any kind...most able-bodied individuals are only comfortable looking at the surface, because they know if they scratch any deeper that they may not like what the find.

Then you have those that say that I would "wear my disability as an excuse, to be (lazy, stupid, moocher, want "attention") different.  I would sincerely challenge any of those people who think this, to live a day in my shoes.  Before I was put on disability in my mid-twenties I had tried MANY dozens of jobs...listening to the perverse voice in my head of my parents' obsessive Protestant work "ethic" that "you just need to try harder, you are just lazy."  I tortured myself with their voices for too long.  And if I was "lazy" how was it that I had close to 50 jobs on my SSA job record before I was given SSDI?   WHICH ONE of those jobs was I "lazy" at?

I don't "wear" my disability, I was BORN without a Corpus Callosum, I was BORN with autistic traits, I can't and don't "put it on and take it off" at will, although my poor sick parents would have me believe that.  Granted they didn't have any access to proper diagnoses and treatment for what I have when I was a child....but still.....  I don't "have" ACC or Autism, it is part of my identity, and on some level is who I AM.  When I was properly diagnosed, I could finally reckon with who I was, I could stop judging myself, start loving myself and start to discover the many and great talents that I DO possess.

So, if you are of "able-body" and "able-mind", please be careful not to judge, you have no idea the struggles another person goes through.

Joseph


3 comments:

  1. Had a dude i worked wih for years say this " i didnt think you were capable of speaking".

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  2. I have a different disability that doesn't show and I've heard comments at times, too. I agree with you, they are telling me about themselves when they comment, not about me. I pray for them. It might help them and it keeps me from judging them.

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