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Disability Is …?

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11 responses to “Disability Is …?”

  1. Kaitlyn

    This reminded me of something my dad’s lawyer asked me when they were determining whether to continue child support:

    “Can you take care of yourself?”

    Over and over again, she asked. Of course I can’t, I can’t drive, I shouldn’t live completely alone.

    “No, no, can you get yourself dressed? Take a shower by yourself?”

    Head, meet desk.
    .-= Kaitlyn´s last blog ..The Franken Senate Defense Appropriations Amendment =-.

  2. Ms. M

    It took me YEARS (as in, about 20 yrs after RA dx at age 10) to embrace the disability label and movement. For me to get there took a small group of like minded women on the internet all struggling with various invisible challenges to talk and work through our feelings about disability, accessing supports (such as a car placard), and how to stand up and demand accomodations without being shamed and silenced about our needs. I’m finally there, and at 37yo, I’m finally able to embrace the word, and the movement. Just in time too… I have a 12yo son on the autistic spectrum, and I needed to embrace my issues to teach him how to be proud and stand up for his needs.

  3. Amanda

    I’d like to present some links that could be useful further reading on these topics. I just hope I don’t get caught in any spam filters for providing several links.

    The first one is from The Perorations of Lady Bracknell. She addresses some really common misconceptions about the social and medical models. Her article is useful for people new to these ideas, many people not new to them, and especially anyone who has ever believed that the social model means impairments don’t cause problems on their own, or that the medical model is the model that good medical professionals ought to use. The link is Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.

    Then there’s some things by a writer named Cal Montgomery. She’s cognitively and physically disabled, but has been pressured by physically disabled people to pass as purely physically disabled (the same thing happens to me sometimes). She frequently criticizes the entire concept of “invisible disability”, saying that it makes it sound like the “invisibility” is happening as a trait of the disabled person rather than a lack of understanding in the particular observer. I see very few other people tackling that idea and I think she’s absolutely correct. She talks about it in a lot of places, but her two best articles on the topic are A Hard Look At Invisible Disability and Tangled in the Invisibility Cloak.

    I’ve been challenged enough (told I’m making crap up, basically) when I say that autistic people who can pass for non-autistic are usually visible if you understand what to look for, that at one point I got fed up when writing a post that dealt with that, and wrote up a detailed description of precisely what combinations of things are visible to me that are invisible to people who have no idea what to look for. (I then got criticized for writing a “DIY autie-spotting guide”, but that was absolutely not my intention. I was just trying to be concrete about something to avoid being accused of lying.) For people who have trouble imagining how something could be invisible to them but visible to people who know what to look for, this post I wrote might be useful. (Note that I use a lot of terms in it to refer to other people’s perceptions, that I would never use myself.)
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Stuff I’ve been reading. =-.

  4. Cinnamon Girl

    Thanks for this blog! And for this post.
    .-= Cinnamon Girl´s last blog ..All aboard the clue boat… =-.

  5. Naomi (lilwatchergirl)

    Lovely to see an American blog addressing the social and medical models of disability!

    Great post. Many thanks.
    .-= Naomi (lilwatchergirl)´s last blog ..What I’ve Been Reading =-.

  6. abby jean

    Naomi – Glad you enjoyed the post! For the record, this isn’t an American blog – our contributors are from all over the world.

  7. geeorge ebert

    My disability is that of having been stigmatized as a “mental patient” and being subject to the stereotypes and discrimination that accompany that identification.

  8. Ang

    This is a really great post which I would direct other people to in my attempt to get across concepts of identification (by self and by others), terminology, and how they affect how people treat each other.
    .-= Ang´s last blog ..The ‘hello’ post. =-.

  9. Naomi (lilwatchergirl)

    Abby Jean: Oops, I saw some US language and assumed – apologies. Interesting to see an international blog addressing such ideas, all the same. It can be hard to tell which ideas about disability are international, especially when language can vary. A great blog you’ve got here.
    .-= Naomi (lilwatchergirl)´s last blog ..NaBloPoMo =-.

  10. Sharon Wachsler

    This was a great article, and some of the other comments added quite a bit. Glad to see mention of Cal Montgomery’s work on this issue.
    I was involved in the DR movement before I became disabled myself in 1995, and thus I already knew the social model of disability. What I was not prepared for, when I became disabled due to chronic illness, was how ill-adapted the social model was (at that time; there has been much improvement — DRM is a bigger tent now) to deal with the medical/illness aspects of many who are disabled.
    My friends and I often found ourselves caught between trying to explain to ABs that no, it wasn’t JUST the illness holding us back, it was also the access problems, and to other PWDs that no, it wasn’t JUST the access, it was also the illness itself (truly!) holding us back.
    I was once invited to be on a disability-themed radio show to talk about my work writing and cartooning about disabilities. The theme for the show was “falling down stories,” and I had a good one he wanted me to tell about my service-dog-in-training pulling my 200-pound scooter on top of me. As I was talking, I referred to myself as “sick.” The host stopped me and challenged me on using what he felt was problematic terminology. Since my humor column and cartoon series were called “Sick Humor,” I was surprised he hadn’t seen it coming! I explained that my disability is caused by a chronic illness — that I do feel sick almost all the time, so I use “disabled” and “sick” interchangeably about myself, but wouldn’t about someone who didn’t have a similar illness. He didn’t seem happy with my answer.
    I think there is much more awareness of the vast range of disabilities now, among DR activists, and how some of us straddle multiple worlds/”types” of disabilities. I personally have undergone the experience of having been disabled by one set of disabilities, and then becoming much more disabled, and in many new ways, by new illnesses. I find that to the general (AB) world, I was already disabled, and they don’t see the huge degree of difference. Among the community of people who have my new disease, though all are “disabled” to one degree or another, as in your article, almost none identify as a PWD. Their illness is their primary identity, and they don’t seem to feel much kinship with people with other illnesses or disabilities.
    (A side note: I understand why they do this. I am, in fact, carefully avoiding naming the new disease I have because I know that the picture the name conjures will be so far afield from the actual severity and diversity of functional limitation this disease has wrought, that to name it feels like I’m inviting an erasure of my experience.)
    In the “general” disability community, there seems to be much more acceptance of the fluidity and multiplicity of disability, in part, I think, because of the existence of progressive disabilities (which is how I usually describe my change in situation) and in part because we’re just more used to “difference” as NORMAL.
    This is a great site. Wish I knew about it before. Will spread the link.
    Peace.


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