There should be no correlation between a disabled person’s willingness, or lack thereof, to experiment with various options and others’ assessments of wether that person’s decision to use a service dog was made appropriately. In the same spirit, a person who decides to use a service dog after alternatives have proven ineffective, should not be viewed as any more validated in their position than one who simply decides that the medication is not for her.
Like my friend William Peace the administration at Iowa has come to think of me as a “bad cripple” who is simply a thorn–largely because I keep insisting that we need to have accessible campus buildings and a dignified disability culture that stands for true inclusion. Call me a thorn if you must. I simply believe that 20 years after the ADA people should be able to work and go to the bathroom by golly. When I think of how low my utopian dreams have fallen I could just cry.
Being forced to take a full course-load despite a diagnosis that says otherwise, forces students with disabilities to play the system and risk mental stress and burnout, to which their studies suffer and creates for them the issue of repairing the damage to their GPA.
Refusing to play the system, and, following a diagnosis, being considered part-time limits a student who cannot handle working at a job to support oneself at the same time as going to school. It restricts students from grants, services, and the benefits of a full-time student.
Right now I’m doing a little bit of all of the above. Who said multitasking’s just for the highly efficient? It’s one of the few skills that comes free as part of the anxiety package (No steak knives I’m afraid. They take away the sharp things when you shake as much as I do). If you’re panicked enough, you can do 5 million things at once. Adrenaline is just homemade speed.
After 18 months, the job centre was forced to pass me on to an “Employment Zone” – a private company paid by the government for every client it got into work, suitable or not.
It offered nothing that I was not already doing: I have internet access and know how to fill in forms and write CVs. My “adviser” was the Scots incarnation of League of Gentlemen’s Pauline, who relished humiliating people better qualified than herself: “We have to find ways of hiding the fact you’ve got a PhD,” she said. I wondered how she would explain away six years. I told her that I had been applying for jobs to which I was suited in skills. She replied: “If you were suited to them, you’d be getting them, wouldn’t you? Try cleaning or call centres.” Fortunately, just as she was demanding that I come in twice a week (on pain of stopping my benefit), the temping agencies with which I was registered began coming up with short-term work in academic administration.