Recommended Reading for December 22

Warning: Offsite links are not safe spaces. Articles and comments in the links may contain ableist language of varying intensity.

A smiling Kaney O'Neill, sitting in a wheelchair, spoon feeds her baby who is sitting in a Bumbo type seat. *Chicago Tribune: Disabled mom fighting to keep her son

Can a quadriplegic woman be a good parent? Her ex-boyfriend filed a custody suit that says no. […]

In September, Trais sued O’Neill for full custody, charging that his former girlfriend is “not a fit and proper person” to care for their son, Aidan James O’Neill. In court documents, Trais said O’Neill’s disability “greatly limits her ability to care for the minor, or even wake up if the minor is distressed.”

O’Neill counters that she always has another able-bodied adult on hand for Aidan — be it her full-time caretaker, live-in brother or her mother. Even before she gave birth to Aidan, O’Neill said, she never went more than a few hours by herself. […]

Howard LeVine, a Tinley Park attorney not affiliated with the case, said Trais’ concerns are legitimate and may hold legal weight. “Certainly, I sympathize with the mom, but assuming both parties are equal (in other respects), isn’t the child obviously better off with the father?” LeVine, who has specialized in divorce and custody cases for the last 40 years, pointed out that O’Neill would likely not be able to teach her son to write, paint or play ball. “What’s the effect on the child — feeling sorry for the mother and becoming the parent?”

* neeners815 at Her Voice: Pain

But we leave for vacation in three days and I’d really like to not leave in pain. Who am I kidding? If I have to be in pain, I’d rather it be somewhere nice and warm with the sound of waves and the beautiful blue ocean.

* katta: Some clues on how not to write deaf characters

The disability fanfic site has uploaded a bunch of stuff, so I’ve been reading quite a lot, and there are a couple of things that bother me.

Well, okay, a lot of things bothered me, but I do deliberately seek out these fics, so I’ve mostly learned to go LALALA at the badness, especially the very common badness like magical recoveries or undue sappiness.

But in this rant, I thought I’d limit myself to a couple of annoying trends in stories about deaf people.

* Amanda Forest Vivian at I’m Somewhere Else: ASD Savants/Disability Redemption transcript

I do think the idea of redemption is also around in the conversation about Asperger’s an high-functioning autism. And what I mean by redemption is the idea that if someone has a disability, if they’re good at something else, it’s okay that they have a disability.

* Cricbuzz: Kashmir’s disabled cricketer dreams of India match

Akseer Abbasi thought his childhood dream of playing cricket for Pakistan was obliterated when his cousin accidentally shot him in the knee and he lost his right leg 15 years ago.

Life took another turn for the worse when a devastating earthquake razed his family home in 2005, but the emergence of a disabled cricket league in Pakistan has revived his hopes of playing for his country. […]

For years Pakistan’s disabled cricketers were shunned, given little or no outlet for their sport. “Whenever I tried to play cricket, my street fellows discouraged me,” said Farhan Saeed, who is missing a left leg and bowls by running, taking a jump and landing on a crutch.

“Then I heard there would be trials to select a disabled team for Karachi and I got selected, and since then I haven’t looked back.”


5 thoughts on “Recommended Reading for December 22

  1. Could you warn for ableist comments on the Tribune article? The article itself was very good; the comments made me want to throw things.

  2. Avendya: I typically get these items rapidly on a Google alert, often before there are any comments (and sometimes avoid reading any comments on news articles myself at all for the reasons you identify.) I can put a blanket warning back on all the Recommended Reading posts if that would help.

  3. My two able-bodied parents didn’t teach me to write, paint, or play ball either. I don’t think it had any sort of adverse effect on my development. And second of all, who the heck says she can’t teach her kid to do those things? Oh yeah, jerks say that.
    I can almost understand the father. People will do just about anything to be with their kids. But the chorus of people jumping to support his argument? Gross.

  4. Check out the California Supreme Court case In re Marriage of Carney from 1979. It’s a very similar issue to the custody issue from the Tribune article. The father, William, had previously had custody of two small sons for 5+ years (the mother had barely visited them), and was injured in an accident, becoming quadriplegic. The mother petitioned for custody and the appeals courts tried to transfer custody to her with arguments such as “there could be no ‘normal relationship between father and boys’ unless William engaged in vigorous sporting activity with his sons.” Fortunately the California Supreme Court overturned that ruling. These are a couple of the good things they said in the case:

    “But it has at least been understood that a boy need not prove his masculinity on the playing fields of Eton, nor must a man compete with his son in athletics in order to be a good father: their relationship is no less ‘normal’ if it is built on shared experiences in such fields of interest as science, music, arts and crafts, history or travel, or in pursuing such classic hobbies as stamp or coin collecting. In short, an afternoon that a father and son spend together at a museum or the zoo is surely no less enriching than an equivalent amount of time spent catching either balls or fish.

    Even more damaging is the fact that the court’s preconception herein, wholly apart from its outdated presumption of proper gender roles, also stereotypes William as a person deemed forever unable to be a good parent simply because he is physically handicapped. Like most stereotypes, this is both false and demeaning.”

    Since it’s a California state case, it’s not direct precedent for this Illinois one, but courts tend to pay attention to previous court rulings in similar issues like this.

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