October 17, 2019

Disclosure in Exchange for Respect

In our effort to increase awareness and acceptance about disabilities, a subset of people seem to have latched on to the idea that if we just tell people we're disabled, others will suddenly understand be kind to us.

I'm talking about Sainsbury offering extra assistance to anyone wearing a sunflower landyard. Anyone with an invisible disability is welcome to pick one up for free and then shop freely, while displaying their diagnosis to the world in exchange for basic respect.

Or parents buying blue plastic pumpkin baskets or making signs or special treat bags that say, "be patient with me, I'm non verbal." But let's keep it real about what is actually happening: adults are withholding candy from children because they don't say "trick or treat" properly or at all. Who exactly is acting like an adult and who is the child in this situation? It's candy. It's cheap. People come to your home on one specific night a year and you've decided now you are the ableism Halloween candy police and must Lord over the visitors who are requesting candy? Give me a break!
Can we just agree to give candy to whoever comes to your door, without being racist, sexist, classist or ableist? Is it really too much to ask?

No one and no parent, should have to explain or disclose a disability in order to simply exist, shop, work, trick or treat, or just take a walk down the street. I shouldn't have to wear a giant sign on my head to have you be kind to me or use some patience.

Similarily, I had a conversation with a friend online recently where a meme was explaining some proper grammar for common expressions and I posted it not because I care about proper grammar, but because I wanted others to understand that those with speech impediments might get these wrong simply because they're hard to pronounce. My friend replied that people should at least know how to spell them correctly then. I said, "dyslexia is a thing and does not indicate a lack of understanding or intelligence." The friend responded, "people with disabilities get a pass."
No, that's not how it works. How about just don't judge at all? You are not the holder and giver of the "pass." We don't need your judgement. And a "bad speller" stranger on the internet shouldn't have to provide their diagnostic reports in order for you to not pass judgement.

I'm really tired of people suddenly requiring everyone else to provide an explanation for being different, needing some help, or just wanting a bit more understanding, in order to be treated like a human being. 

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