Monday, October 19, 2009

What really makes me sick

I was minding my own business when it happened. Really. I was, in fact, napping, not because I'm an invalid, but because I worked over the weekend and a 7 day schedule tires me out, just like everyone else.

The phone rang and that was when it happened. The caller, who I don't know well, equated people with disabilities with invalids.

That was the moment I regretted stopping my series on myths and assumptions about disabilities, something I toyed with the beginning of the year, then set aside after readers emailed me complaining that they knew all this "stuff". But, really, there are a lot of folks out there who don't know. I know because I'm confronted as a person with a disability with all kinds of erroneous myths and assumptions. They're floating around out there, large as life.

And just like the balloon boy incident, these assumptions and myths are hoaxes. They force our eyes skyward, distract us from the action on the ground, in real life. And people buy into them, even the media.

Disabled people are not invalids. Disability does not equal sickness. However, as Meredith wisely points out, if the proper care is not given to people with disabilities, they can and do become sick. The same is true with equipment and other resources.

Maybe that's why confusion abounds. We have a long way to go before many people with disabilities get the care and equipment they need. Until then, many struggle. Many can't get jobs, housing, or community care and support.

This is what sickens me, not my disability.


Anonymous said...

As I replied to your tweet, the word 'invalid' means 'without value', i.e. useless. It only has legitimacy in a military context, as in a phrase like 'invalided out', meaning released from duty due to incapacity. Otherwise, it should be among the words most resisted, probably below 'retard' in the list but well above 'cripple'.

Matt Smith

La Coja said...

Couldnt have said it better. My grandma, who was a principal at a school for people with developmental disabilities in the 1970s, still uses handicapped/argues for institutions for 'independence'. I love her to death but when she talks about this subject I leave the room

Jessica said...

Maybe some will complain...there are always some who will. But if you can show just one person through a post that disabled does not equal invalid, or useless or hopeless or whatever else people may be thinking, then I think it will have been worth it...there are definitely still many hearts and minds out there that need to hear it.