Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Not all are as they appear... a double-standard in disability.

I was replying to a post a friend made today on Facebook about how someone had asked her how "such a lovely healthy young woman such as herself needs a cane?" .... and how she had kinda chosen to ignore the comment instead of letting it ruin her day.
I just wanted to point out to others that I suspect many, many more people than we realize out there are developmentally disabled, or mentally ill in some way and just don't understand or can't comprehend generally "normal" or socially accepted talking or social skills... these folks often seem mean, rude, or negative, but really, they are just trying their best to communicate... very much as a child does. If you're having a hard time picturing what I'm talking about think back to those folks talking to themselves on the street corner or begging for money... homeless individuals are more likely than not to suffer from some kind of metal illness or developmental issue.
In my past line of work alongside these folks, I know that many lower-functioning individuals look and dress and act like functioning and fully self-aware adults, but often have the mentality of young children... so when someone says something like that to me (something I'd register as otherwise rude or hurtful coming from an intelligent adult) I generally assume this person is younger inside and I look at them and treat them as such.. not out of any disrespect, but to meet them halfway. A teaching moment is often appreciated by these folks.
If a younger kid says this to us our reaction is often very different than when an adult does the same, but really, I find many adults with childlike minds that successfully live and pass as "regular" adults too. It's a very invisible situation and their disabilities are often as invisible as our disabilities, the difference being; these folks often can't express their delay/illness the same as we can precisely  because they are intellectual, and so instead pass as rude or insensitive to us.

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