Monday, February 27, 2012

Adaptation: two views

There is a genius that reverberates in the disability community. It is called adaptation. Seen in the lives of many, subtly ignored or even condemned by the mainstream as being a wrong way to do things, it is, in fact, what gives disabled people their lives.

Without adapting, we would not be mobile or productive.

Feeding oneself at a rakish angle to defy gravity means not needing help to eat. The alternative is unspeakable - waiting for assistance that is on its own terms, in its own time, runs by its own clock, decides what we eat, how much and when.

Dressing ourselves with velcro or- gasp- in a wheelchair or on a bed may look unconventional. Who knows? Who cares?

No, the disabled don't look away. We study adaptation.

Climbing into cars or over steps doesn't seem to carry the Huck Finn all American swagger in the eyes of most, but in the disability culture it does. We ask "How did you do that?" and suggest they put a YouTube video up.

We admire adaptation and those who adapt in the disability culture. Sometimes we chuckle or sigh or cry in sheer joy that one of our fellows figured out how to do something that seemed impossible - a high quadriplegic who can draw, a blind person who reads faster than the sighted, a deaf musician - because we know what it means to the person.

Society - when it suits- calls it inspirational.

We call it having a life.


Amy Kelly said...

This made me think of the words of Neil Marcus: “Disability is not a ‘brave struggle’ or ‘courage in the face of adversity.’ Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.”

Jennifer Fitz said...

Love this, Ruth. I'm feeling very inarticulate this morning, but you hit on a topic fresh in my mind. I wanted to slap some friends the other night when they looked at me like I had three heads for suggesting a way their recently-injured son might still be able to enjoy his pending vacation via adaptive sports equipment.

Because you know, better to sit at home alone than to get out and do the activity you'd planned, if getting out and having fun means using that weird equipment for those 'special people'. Yeah, okay. Stay home then.

Ruth said...

Amy - yes exactly - love that quote

Jennifer - have had 'that' convo with other parents. So sad when the kid just wants to go out and have fun