which would document (make a directory of?) accessible tumblr themes with pros and cons, point out unaccessible features in various tumblr themes, suggest ways to fix the unaccessible features (code and customization, if possible), and so on.
Found an image. FINALLY. Only on page SIXTY FOUR of the search results. Seriously, it’s really sad that I have to look THAT HARD for an image that actually EMPOWERS autistic people instead of makes them feel like shit.
Anyone have a good image about/with the theme of autism that doesn't feature that damn puzzle piece or Light It Up Blue?
I’m searching for an image to go with a piece by an autistic self-advocate and I want something autisticly empowering (does that even make sense?). The image must be free to use with no legal ramifications. I’ve been searching on Flickr under the Creative Commons License but I’m not really getting anywhere with this particular piece.
“[CW: Discussion of internalizing and psych. abuse]
But how can I get used to saying that they trained me into ways of thinking, degrees of self-hatred and self-denial, that, without diligence on my part and support on the part of others, could come close to killing me every day of my life for the next seven years or more? This is where the outposts in our heads come into play. We are trained in these destructive ways of thinking, by both well-meaning and cruel people alike. One of the most dangerous thoughts among them is the belief that these thought patterns are just about anything — ‘delusions’, ‘organic psychiatric disorders’, ‘signs of pathology’, ‘manipulation’ — as long as they are not the responsibility of the people who teach ‘patients’ these ways of thinking. But one of the most important things to learn is that it is their responsibility. These mental outposts that destroy so much of people’s lives are not the fault of the people whose lives are destroyed. They are the responsibility of the people who perpetuate them and the systems that support them.”—Outposts In Our Heads « Ballastexistenz (via nicocoer)
A fat woman standing in line at the grocery store does not want to be the target of endless silent judgment and raised eyebrows about what is and isn’t in her cart, what she unloads onto the belt, how she moves, how she dresses. She does not want to be the stand-in symbol for evil and greed and nasty, dirty things. She doesn’t want to be a fetish, either, she doesn’t want to be stared at by people who are mentally undressing her and thinking about how she looks. Maybe she just wants to be neutral. Maybe she just wants to be another person standing in line at the grocery store, neutral, not standing for anything, just another body in the store. She might not feel that way all the time; maybe some days she thinks it would be nice if someone gave her an admiring glance. But sometimes, you just want to stand in line and not be a symbol.
They also belong in neutral places, where you might expect to see a standard, ‘generic’ body used for colour and added depth, because fat people are standard too. Fat people belong there, in the sidebars and the crowd scenes and everywhere else, the places you would expect to find them in real life; fat bodies belong in settings so neutral that they are unremarkable and do not need to attract comments one way or the other, because that, too, is part of the fight for liberation. To be unremarkable, not the subject of intense scrutiny or attention because you just are, just like all the other people in a scene.
I imagine tuning in to a favourite television series and seeing a fat character casually depicted on screen, with no particular messaging embedded in that character. That is a depiction of fatness I want to see every bit as much as a specifically positive, fat-friendly presentation.
If you are a student with any kind of disability at WKU, you have to give your professors a form at the beginning of the semester notifying them of any accommodations you need. They always mention this part when they go over the syllabus. My professor today says “If you have any disabilities, make…
I feel like we could all have fun snarking about exactly what fraction of a person we each are…are people with multiple disabilities a smaller fraction?
I hate disability-shaming. It’s like no one gives a fuck about it. Okay, so this man was born with no arms and no legs and he does all this stuff like play soccer, swim, and play golf? Cool, that’s one badass motherfucker.
But who is he to go around saying shit to people like ARE YOU GOING TO BE STRONG TOO?? (basically) Like fuck you, your internalized ableism is showing. And fuck you, people who are like HE IS SO ~INSPIRING AND BRAVE~, your ableism is showing, too.
Not all disabilities are the same. Not everyone who is disabled has the same capabilities, and it has nothing to do with how weak or strong you are. I know I couldn’t fucking play soccer or swim unless I wanted to be in incredible pain due to my osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. So does that make me weak? NO.
And we are not ~inspiring and brave~ for doing shit non-disabled people can do, we are just trying to live our motherfucking lives to the most normal capacity that each of us can. It’s got nothing to do with bravery, cut that shit out.
Also: all this applies to psychological disabilities too. It doesn’t have to be physical.
A lot of people seem to implicitly think that racism, misogyny, and homophobia are fairly rare things in our society. The corollary to this is that racist beliefs are only held by racists, and racists are the sort of extreme aberrations from mainstream society who burn crosses on people’s lawns. So when you say that what person X said is offensive, they think “No way! Person X wouldn’t burn a cross.” I think this is where “it wasn’t intended to be offensive, so it must not be offensive” comes from.
This worldview presents a double whammy, because even if you can convince them something is technically problematic, it’s not related to any systematic problems in our society, so it’s still no big deal.
“It can be really hard to get respect from other people, or even feel that you deserve respect, if you don’t have a disability that looks the same every day. When you are suddenly slow (or suddenly sad, and that makes you slow), or suddenly so angry that you can’t tolerate doing anything slightly difficult or stressful, there isn’t really anything to call this to try to explain why you’re making what seem like very silly and strange decisions in attempt to look after yourself, or why you can’t do the things you can usually do.”—A Deeper Country (via argilla)
I remember the first conversation I had with someone about my mental health. I was seventeen, too young at the time to understand that it was actually my mental health and not some character flaw that made it impossible to tackle the simplest of problems. My life was filled…
I often wondered if fathers of diabetics thought the same thing, “Seriously! Why can’t you just regulate your insulin LIKE A NORMAL PERSON.”
^ sums up all my feelings towards everyone else’s feelings towards mental health and autism.
ohmylord this speech. THIS SPEECH.
Every stress sent me into a fit of tears. I couldn’t look at any problem, however big or small, as being anything less than The End of The World.
Um. Hi. This is Cara, I think I might be living your life.
Isn’t it cute when she pretends that she just can’t buck up and be in a better mood?
"Just think positive!" "Just STOP CRYING!" If only it were that simple….
Yes, I take medication. I will always take medication. And yet, I run a successful business. I wrote a book that made the New York Times bestseller list. Forbes named me one of the most influential women in media. 1.5 million people follow me on Twitter. And I will stand here and tell you that all of that success was made possible because of those meds. Am I crazy to admit that? It doesn’t matter.
If I wasn’t on meds, I’d still be crying every day, my eyes would still be red and raw 24/7. If I wasn’t on meds, I wouldn’t have ever viewed college as a cool place to be. If I wasn’t on meds, I would still be in my dorm room, crying and crying and crying and calling my mom and crying and sobbing “PLEASE COME TAKE ME HOMEEEEE!!!” If it wasn’t for meds, I would’ve run back to NY as fast as I could…and cried some more when I realized that wasn’t going to fix the problem. Meds made me feel like myself again. So don’t tell me I shouldn’t be on meds. I can function like a “normal” human being now, all because of the meds.
ohmylord THIS SPEECH. I think this is the closest thing I’ve ever read to my own issues, especially the college part.
[Content warning: Mentions of violence towards PwD, both external and internal. Passing mention of the R-word and of a cat dying.]
I think sometimes when we talk about “passing” versus visibility we forget what that really means, what it is really about. We forget that it means a choice between being safe in the out there instead of being safe in the in here.
It’s a process of making a difficult choice for some of us. Which will destroy us sooner- the violence that others do to us or the violence we do to ourselves? How long do we defend ourselves from the violence that other people send us before we end up destroying who we are inside? Can we live in a world where we can be safe in our own heads without endangering ourselves from the violence of others?
New blog post for Cracked Mirror in Shalott.
brilliant as usual, sav. i will definitely take away a lot from this one as i’ve been thinking a lot about internalized ableism lately.
also your cat was named tribble omgamazing. #trekkie
“People with disabilities have been incarcerated in institutions and segregated from the rest of society. They have been sterilized and denied the right to sexual expression and reproduction against their will. They have been passively ‘allowed to die’ or purposely killed by individuals who have judged the lives of [disabled people] to have no potential quality or value. They have been compelled to provide labor with little or no compensation. They have been punished and subjected to other forms of unpleasant and sometimes dangerous treatment, often with no evidence of potential benefit. They have been stereotyped as being subhuman ‘vegetables’ incapable of human emotions and unworthy of human compassion. All of these things have been done by caregivers.”—Sobsey, Dick. Violence and Abuse in the Lives of People with Disabilities. pp 112. (via nekobakaz)
Not the most accessible activity by a long shot. Lucky for me I have a great family and some awesome friends that can hoist my crippy butt through the course. The accessible course had stairs. Stairs…. let that sink in for a minute. Done? OK good.
I had a blast though. I even came in second right behind my buddy Richard, and my Pop was in the best mood I’ve seen him in in a long time.
I think its funny just how unaware people are about how accessible the world is not. When a place of business thinks stairs are accessible for people in wheelchairs you might think that the person who put up that sign is a french fry short of a happy meal, but you’d be wrong. That guy is the norm not the exception. To people who get it, i.e. people who have been made familiar with the needs of disabled peoples of one sort or another, it all seems like a no brainer that the course is not accessible. For people who just have old grand parents that have a parking placard, a wider mini golf course is now deemed accessible. It’s a cognative bias that can only be over come by exposure.
That’s what these blogs are for. =) I see you out there cripple boggers! I read you, I’m routing for you, and I like your style.
Until next time Happy blogging!
I absolutely despise mini golf for that very reason (and that fact that between my coordination and depth perception issues I ALWAYS LOSE at mini golf). I can get myself up the stairs if I have to but it takes a lot of energy for me to traipse around a mini-golf course.
The most extroverted, fun, life-and-soul-of-the-party person you know could quite possibly be the most depressed person you know. The most introverted, serious, wall-flower person you know could quite easily be the happiest person you know.
When I’m calm and quiet and staying in, I’m relatively likely to be going through a really good phase. When I go out and I’m buying everyone drinks and doings shot after shot and taking drugs and partying hard, I’m relatively likely to be depressed as fuck.
People react to their depression in different ways. Don’t buy into the loner, staying in their room, avoiding people, being online all day stereotype of depression. Some folks are really quite happy sitting indoors, playing video games, and chilling. Some people act exceedingly happy to cover up what’s inside, or even just to try and trick themselves into feeling happy.
Depression ain’t as simple as all that. You can’t spot depressed people by calculating internet usage or looking for sweatpants.
This. so much. people tell me I can’t have depression because I’m “such a happy person”. well, guess what? i do.
“In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me—everything that comes out of me is authentically mine, I own everything about me—my body, my feelings, my mouth, whether they be to others or to myself—I own my fantasies, my dreams, my hopes, my fears—I own all my triumphs and successes, all my failures and mistakes. Because I own all of my, I can become intimately acquainted with me—by so doing I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts—I know there are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other aspects that I do not know—but as long as I am friendly and loving to myself, hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles and for ways to find out more about me—However I look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically me—If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought and felt turned out to be unfitting, I can discard that which I feel is unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that which I discarded—I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do. I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be productive, and to make sense and order out of the world of people and things outside of me—I own me, and therefore, I can engineer me. I am me and I AM OKAY.”—Virginia Satir (via missabilitysadventuresinacademe)
I hate feeling like I'm an inconvenience or a burden on other people.
Every time I go out with a group of AB (ABnormal :P) people, I’m constantly going “Can we slow down? Can we stop and take a break for a minute? Can I sit down?” I’m always worried that I walk too slow and I see the looks of annoyance and I hear their resigned sighs. And if I want to take the chair/scooter it’s a whole other set of issues - can someone push me in my chair? Can someone fold it? Put it in the trunk? Can someone disassemble the scooter and put it in the trunk? The pieces are kind of heavy - will they be able to do it? Will I need to teach them how to disassemble it? Every single time I go out with a group of non-disabled people I feel like a burden, someone who just slows everything down. Tonight is one of those nights I wish I didn’t have CP, because I’m so sick of counting spoons and wondering how much pain I’m going to be in. I’m low on spoons tonight but you know what? I’m going out anyway even though my back and my ankles are killing me and the thought of walking any substantial distance makes me want to cry. I want so much to go out and enjoy myself without being limited by my fatigue and pain levels. And don’t you dare give me that bullshit about “Everyone gets tired, it’s not just you, stop whining, blah blah blah.” Try feeling like all the energy has been sucked out of you and you can’t even move and every step forward takes a monumental effort. I can’t just take a day off when I feel crappy like everyone else does, because I feel this way ALL THE TIME. And yes, there are some days when it’s worse than others but, hey, I have to go to school. I have to eat. I have to move from the couch sometime if I want to actually live a life. I’m not lazy, I’m freaking exhausted. The fatigue and pain are really what cripples me. I use more energy than a non-disabled person. That is medically documented, people with CP use 3-5 times the amount of energy than an non-disabled person does. So imagine everything you do, you’re doing on a tightrope, feeling like red-hot needles are being shoved into your legs and back, and you’ll have some idea of what my life is like. And you wonder why I’m “always tired”. I just wish I could go out on a whim, on a moment’s notice, and not have to plan every single little thing. I wish I didn’t have to turn people down when they ask to make plans because I don’t have enough spoons. And that’s not even considering that I take medication for anxiety that makes me tired. People act like I’m overreacting, that I can walk that distance if I really try, oh, I must not be trying hard enough! “You can walk that/stand that/do that, I’ve seen you do it!” on a different day and time and place and with a different spoon count and in a totally different situation and even then do you realize how draining it is??? Just because I’m physically capable of doing it doesn’t mean that I should. They act like I’m exaggerating the effects of my disability just so I can be lazy with an excuse. Well, people, I beg of you, try living in my body for a day or two or three or four and only then will you have the slightest idea of what my life is like.
Why do we need to force people to make eye contact?
It just seems completely pointless to me. As long as you’re communicating in some way, who the hell cares where you’re looking? My cerebral palsy prevents me from making eye contact with people when I talk because I can’t do two muscular tasks (talking and making eye contact) at the same time. If I concentrate on making eye contact I lose my thread of thought and I’ll stutter more. There are other disabilities, notably autism, that hinder your ability to make eye contact with people. There’s a reason we don’t make eye contact with people, it’s not that we’re being bad or lazy or defiant. There are perfectly good reasons why we don’t make eye contact, it’s painful or anxiey-producing or interferes with other abilities. You’re asking somebody to put themselves deliberately in a painful or uncomfortable situation just so they can look more “normal”. There is absolutely no benefit to making eye contact other than it makes you appear more “normal” and the fact that you’ll be more socially accepted because our society has this bizarre rule that you must look people in the eye when you talk to them. And in the age of technology, is eye contact even so important anymore? We obviously don’t look people in the eye when we text or email or IM or call people. So why should face to face communication entail eye contact if no other mode of communication does? It doesn’t make sense to me. What does it matter if I look at my feet or in the other direction when I talk to you? We should be encouraging communication (of all kinds), not eye contact. For once, I’d like somebody to tell me “It’s okay if you don’t look at me when we talk.” Wouldn’t that be nice?
Just the other day I was with a friend going to the mall. We had to take the city bus, which is pretty frequent for me. It was our first time going to this mall though, so we got a little lost, and got on the bus at around 5ish. Once we get on, the bus driver looks at me & says; “You guys should probably plan a different time of day to go to the mall. Usually this bus is very crowded because its rush hour. It will be safer to go at a different time.”
First of all, I did not ask for your opinion.
Second, I know you mean well, but still. Just because I am disabled does not mean I’m stupid. I have enough common sense to know my limitations. Just because I’m in a wheelchair does not mean I have to live in fear and not go outside because “its crowded.” I live in New York freaking City. What do you expect? I ride the city bus almost every day, I know what its like. I don’t need you to tell me that.
I don’t want to be treated like a little kid. Just because I’m in my chair, doesn’t mean I’m going to let stupid things stop me from living life. Yeah, some things are not safe for me, I admit. But I have enough common sense to know that, and not do those things. If I’m going on the bus at that time, I know its going to be crowded, I’m going to expect it. I know my limitations and I dont need some random old lady to tell me them. I know myself better than she does.
If she saw some other random able bodied girl get on the bus, she wouldn’t tell them its not safe for them. But it is for me because I’m “crippled”, huh?
Postulate: I do not, however, exist in the eyes of others as someone who wholly exists, who is wholly equal, who counts as a whole person, and not as some defective version of “normal”.
Proof (tragically not two-column):I am sitting in the common room. I am a breathing, living person engaged in a conversation with other living humans. Therefore, I exist, and my existence is recognized. See axiom.
If I exist, then my existence will be recognized.
If I exist, then all my parts and identities and facets exist too.
If my existence is to be recognized, then the existence of my disability will be recognized as well.
I hear it.
“That’s fucking retarded!”
If an ableist slur is used, then it is assumed that disabled people do not have voices to be heard.
If disabled people do not have voices to be heard, then they do not count.
If I am a disabled person, then I do not count.
If I exist, and if I am disabled, theneither I exist, but I do not count, orI exist as a defective version of “normal”, with the inconvenient or confusing parts disallowed, and not as a disabled person.
Therefore, I am not a whole person, and I do not matter.
Yeah, I know. It’s just a word. It wasn’t meant for me. I wasn’t the intended recipient. I don’t exist as an audience member to your commentary, remember? I don’t count. You don’t mean it that way, you didn’t mean it about me, and your intention is some sort of magical fucking shield protecting me from the harm your words cause. To people like me. To people unlike me. To me. To those of us who aren’t counted.
Thanks for that.
This is what I mean. As a disabled person, I am not allowed to have a voice. I am not allowed to stand up for myself and say “that hurts”. I am not allowed to say “I exist”. I am not allowed to say “I exist. That label belongs to me. Keep your mouth off it.” I am not taken seriously when I try to explain that the reason retard is such an effective insult is because it means someone is stupid, unlovable, and laughable, and that actually I love people who are labeled mentally retarded and they are fucking smarter than most of you and their existence (our existence. Ask me how I did on my last IQ test) is not some sort of cosmic joke, nor is its purpose to be the butt of other jokes. That when you use being special as a joke, or hurl r-words like acid, that you are saying that I don’t exist, I don’t deserve love, and I certainly don’t deserve to be listened to.
Well fuck you.
(But I’m not allowed to swear at you. If I’m not polite and subservient and witty and comfortable, safe, then people will be driven away. People who need to hear, won’t. Not only do you get to dictate my existence, but you get to determine my voice, too.)
I have to say the same thing every time. “You’re at Smith. Surely you can find a less offensive adjective.” Or, better yet, I can not say anything and get in a minimal amount of trouble. Just once, I’d like to play it right. Whip my head around. “EXCUSE me? Did you really just say that? What sort of an ableist throwback are you?”
I exist, damnit. I deserve to have that respected. My friends, my students, people I’ve never even met exist, too. How can I justify silence in response to our casual, automatic discounting?
“I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.” -Eminem<3
I absolutely love this quote. He took the words right out of my mouth. I’m glad that someone as big as Eminem feels that way too. Good to know I’m not alone on this.
Even though he left out disabled, this quote really does mean alot to me. This is how I wish the world saw everyone. I’m tired of having stupid people treat me differently because of my disability. Just by looking at me, a thousand different thoughts can run through your mind. But I’m sure none of them are the same thoughts you would have if you saw a regular teenage girl. Whether its judging me at first sight because of my chair, or feeling sorry for me because of it, or even just flat out not wanting to talk to me because of that, you know you’re thinking something. I don’t want your pity. I want you to look at me, and see any other teenage girl. Not one that is limited because of what society has expected of me.
Maybe someday people will actually take Eminems words and build their morals around it. But hey, I’m just one person. I doubt I can make that happen.
Living like this really makes you see life in a completely different way. You realize shit that regular people don’t even notice until they’re 50 and half their life is over. To be quite honest, I don’t know how to even put most things in to words. Even if I did get it down on paper, nobody will really understand what its like.
All I’m saying is that I agree with Eminem. Living like this had made me very open to other types of people. I know what its like to be judged & excluded from society. I know how bad it hurts to have someone look at you & treat you differently based on something you cant controll. And I would never want that to happen to anyone else, no matter what. I don’t care if you’re gay, or a different race, or anything really. If everyone was the same … then who are we? Would we really be our own person? Therefore, I don’t just ‘not like’ someone just by looking at them. You never know their story and what theyre going through.
I just said during a conference call that me getting work done depends on my energy levels
…..I think that’s the first time I’ve ever said explicitly that my fatigue levels are an access consideration for me. wow.
and now the little ableist voice in my head is coming back saying that being tired isn’t an access need and blah blah blah and SHUT UP LITTLE ABLEIST VOICE I ACTUALLY FEEL ACCOMPLISHED FOR SPEAKING MY NEEDS.
* the constant thinking about which way to walk so you dont trip over things * the focusing on the lay out of all the new classrooms so you dont run into things * the thinking about the stairs just to be sure you dont trip
[photo of person saying “Obesity is NOT a handicap- you do not need a motorized scooter because your fat ass is too lazy to walk thru walmart.”]
As you noticed, my reply (the last one- “How do you know they aren’t obese AND have a disability?”) has not been entered. Know why? Because I already wrote something like that and I think she deleted it! Frustrating.
My response isn’t angry, it’s just a reminder that you can’t know a person’s disabilities just by looking them and judging someone for using a scooter is, quite frankly, highly inappropriate. Obesity sometimes leads to health problems that do make walking difficult. People can be obese and have unrelated disabilities at the same time.
Also, am I wrong in thinking that Walmart doesn’t provide customers with motorized scooters to begin with? Which indicates that customers having one brought it to the store? Further indicating that their problems are more than just “they’re too lazy to walk around today” since they had enough of a need to purchase it for frequent use? And even if Walmart did provide it, how the heck does it affect you?
I get judged for using a scooter all the time because oh my god I can get up and walk even though it takes about four times the energy for me to walk than for a non-disabled person to walk and, oh, right, there’s the issue of it’s painful sometimes too!!!
I think Walmart does provide scooters for customers though. Pretty sure Target does.
Shown in this video he mods a kindle to have larger buttons. Kind of cool. The buttons are annoyingly small even for a healthy person. This kind of proves (or at least strongly suggests) to me that the price of and convenience of a kindle is better than other options when it comes to reading for the disabled.
I don’t care whether you are a woman, transgender, a transvestite, intersex, mentally unstable, cisgender, insane, of any shade of the skin-color spectrum, physically handicapped, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, heterosexual, a man, have some fetish that is generally regarded as weird, what have you, and won’t fight for your individual rights because of any or multiple of those factors.
I care for equality. And so, I believe that everyone should be treated equal and no “group” is better or worse than the rest.
That still gives me the right to judge you, respect you, disrespect you, like you, hate you, depending on your actions, words and what of your personality and believes you express towards me. Because that is the main factor that sets humans apart as individuals.
Just like everybody has to work and act according to their strenghts and general abilities, just because you are not part of the “norm” doesn’t make you any worse- or better, for that matter. It might increase your struggles, but doesn’t give you the right to look down on said norm or any other group of individuals if not based on their collective actions which also only applies for people that group themselves according to their believes and actions. Everything else is generalization and therefore bigotry.
Fight the cause, not the symptoms.
slightly problematic language here but great point.
for this it really depends on the context of the word
but calling someone “special” and not necessarily meaning it as a compliment is in fact ableist and here’s why i think it is
(this is coming from someone who was called all kinds of ableist slurs growing up so i do have some Life Experience on this point but not as much say as someone with a more seriously life-affecting disability than ADD and dyslexia so if someone else wants to do another psot on it i will gladly Shut My Pie Hole)
for a long time people have been trying to come up with a word besides “retarded” to describe people with developmental or learning disabilities
and whenever a word is found that doesn’t necessarily have a slur meaning to it at the time
it eventually becomes a slur because people do eventually start using it as an insult
hence why “special” can be an ableist term
“oh he’s just special”
“well isn’t that just special”
all of these are derogatory towards the person and/or things they are talking about
mostly because of the association of the word “special” with people with developmental and/or learning disabilities and how having said disabilities is automatically A Bad Thing in our society even though said people have literally no control over whether they have a disability or not
so here you go
it’s pretty basic but i think it gets the point across
“im not scared, just changing”—in the disability world it is ok to be scared of the unknown. to be scared physically and mentally. you just have to realize that everything is changing everyday. change is hard is to accept, but change is also impowering (via dis-ability)
“And it all starts when we say no. We can say no. When someone instructs us to lose weight, to shave, to straighten our hair, to get “in shape”, to wear makeup, to wear less makeup, to dress appropriately, to dress more stylishly, no not that stylishly, to stop standing out, to stop making noise, to stop being so damn large, to stop making excuses, to stop fighting, to just get along, to just do what we tell you, to just buy into this commercial weight-loss plan, to just take these pills, to just have this cosmetic surgery, to just follow instructions, to just know that we’re doing this for your own good, to never walk alone, to never walk alone in that outfit, to never draw attention, because no one wants to see that, because no one wants to see your body, because no one wants to see you.
You can tell them no, and refuse to say more on the subject. No is always an option. It’s a small word, a difficult word, a word that speaks volumes in a single syllable, and one that gets easier to say the more you do it. It’s part of your arsenal, whether you realize it or not, and it’s a powerful weapon.
I do not want to be treated "just like everyone else".
I want to be treated as a human being with her own specific needs and desires. I want those needs and desires to be taken account. I want to be treated equally - equally, but not the same. As Meg Murry says in A Wrinkle In Time:
No! Like and equal are not the same thing at all!
And indeed, she is right. I do not want to be like everyone else, I want to be equal to them. There is a world of a difference. Imagine how boring the world would be if we were all treated exactly alike? Then no one, regardless of ability, would be getting what they need. I am not “like everyone else”. What does that even mean? What does being “like everyone else” entail? Aren’t we all unique? Don’t emphasize diversity and then tell me I should be striving towards being “like everyone else”. Equality, not sameness, is what we should be striving towards.
“Ableism must be included in our analysis of oppression and in our conversations about violence, responses to violence and ending violence. Ableism cuts across all of our movements because ableism dictates how bodies should function against a mythical norm—an able-bodied standard of white supremacy, heterosexism, sexism, economic exploitation, moral/religious beliefs, age and ability. Ableism set the stage for queer and trans people to be institutionalized as mentally disabled; for communities of color to be understood as less capable, smart and intelligent, therefore “naturally” fit for slave labor; for women’s bodies to be used to produce children, when, where and how men needed them; for people with disabilities to be seen as “disposable” in a capitalist and exploitative culture because we are not seen as “productive;” for immigrants to be thought of as a “disease” that we must “cure” because it is “weakening” our country; for violence, cycles of poverty, lack of resources and war to be used as systematic tools to construct disability in communities and entire countries.”—Mia Mingus, Moving Toward the Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability (via classycoochie)
“With the wave of a hand, an entire group of people was erased from the human race. Without a contesting word, members of the human species were sacrificed — but a theory was saved. And what was the distinctly nonhuman behavior demonstrated by some children with William syndrome? It was their ability to develop a prodigious vocabulary, prior to developing the ability to extend an index finger to point.”—Morton Ann Gernsbacher (via fragmentsofstuff)
I don’t have autism. I am autistic. This is important to me. It also doesn’t mean that I “see myself as a disability first and a person second,” whatever that is supposed to mean. In my eyes, I’m Julia. Just Julia.
I cannot separate out which parts of me brain are wired because baby I was born this way and which parts of my brain should be marked off as AUTISM. Nor do I particularly care, to be honest. I am Julia, and a significant fraction of Julia is autism (and thus, via the transitive property, I am autism but that’s not the point). Am I a writer because I’m Julia, or because I’m autistic? My writing is good in its own right, I am told, and it’s also fundamentally shaped by my neurology—just like yours. I like Glee and Phineas and Ferb and also Sudoku. Am I allowed to have a personality and preferences, or just perseverations? Is my deeply and inconveniently round-about, pedantic, literal, and analytic way of thinking and using language a sign of a what a profoundly gifted child you were, Julia (and you know, no one ever tells the kids in the gifted programs that they see themselves as gifted first and human second, or that they should call themselves “persons who experience a label of giftedness) or is it a symptom of some monster hiding in my neurons?
I would argue that it’s both, and that it doesn’t matter. Being autistic fundamentally shapes how I perceive and interact with the world, with a million cascading and subtle consequences. I would not be the same Julia I am now without whatever parts of my brain can be marked as AUTISTIC (and that’s bad science in the first place, the brain is a whole lot more complicated and subtle than that, we know that there isn’t one gene or one wiring variation that leads to autism). I also wouldn’t be the same Julia I am now if I hadn’t skipped eighth grade, or hadn’t spent a summer at Stanford, or hadn’t been in choir ororor…
I’m Julia, and I’m autistic, and I will apologize for, justify, qualify, neither.
The dichotomy between being a person and having a disability is a false, and useless, one. It’s based in the notion that people with disabilities they can’t hide or that we can’t pretend to ignore aren’t people. In a certain, socio-linguistic, sense, that’s true. Disability is used to mean something inherently bad and wrong and scary and consuming and destructive and sick, and why would you ever want to include that in any way in your identity or personhood? I myself have said that in a perfect word, there would be no such thing as disability. But please, pay attention: it’s very, very important to look at how the same word can be used a few different ways here. In the above scenarios, where disability means bad, I’m quite literally talking about what disability means, what the word is used to signify, what attributes are assigned it, how our current modern Western society places it in context and value. But that’s not what disability inherently, objectively, physically and literally is.
When a car is disabled, it doesn’t work the way it was designed to work anymore. Human beings, though not designed and constructed in factories like cars, are similar. There is a certain range of activities and capabilities to which most of us are accustomed. When someone isn’t able to match up, they too become disabled. Difficulty walking, talking, hearing, seeing, eating? Disability. This is what disability is.
Notice, though, that when a car stops being drivable it doesn’t also stop being a car. Similarly, a human who can’t do some expected human things doesn’t stop being a human. In some contexts, a car that can’t drive is a bad car, worthless, lesser, low- or non-functioning. In others, though—art, architecture, scrap metal (remember, humans aren’t cars and these examples don’t have direct equivalents for us, please don’t try and find the scrap-metal humans), a car with an exploded wheel is valued positively. Similarly, in a world without stairs, using a wheelchair can be an advantage. In a world where everyone uses sign language, only speaking with your mouth is a disadvantage. Meaning and value and worth get assigned to people based on how useful their range of capabilities and potentials are for various activities. A person who can’t participate in the activity they are expected to is disabled. This is what disability means.
A disability is a stigmatized difference, one we haven’t found a slot for yet. I would love for that stigma, that disabling context, to go away. The raw physical difference itself though? It’s a part of me, and I’m not going to hide it, ignore it, or lie about it.
Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter whether or not I see myself “as a person first, and a disability second.” It’s not going to keep me safe. I know exactly what the other people in the store think when they see me rock, flap, cover my ears.
On the internet, maybe, I have the luxury of expounding on the finer points of person-first versus identity-first language. In real life, in a world where our parents kill us, our classmates abuse us, and our employers are virtually non-existent? I really don’t have that luxury.
As long as there are people demanding that I call myself a person with autism, as though I am just cohabiting with two different brains, one of which I should really want to discard at the soonest possible opportunity, I will call myself autistic out of sheer defiance. The autistic parts of myself are always what are going to be punished and cut away at, they are what are going to get me hurt and killed, and I will put them in the front where everyone else already sees them and fly them as a goddamn flag.
I am not flattered when you say that I don’t really see you as autistic or it’s just a label.
Because what you mean is that “I don’t really see you as Bad right now,” and while I am incredibly grateful for that safety, I am also furious that autistic means Bad at all in the first place and that I feel I have anything to be grateful for in that entire situation.
It is, indeed, just a label. One without nearly the neutrality of, say, Campbell’s Chicken Soup. All your wishing in the world won’t change that, and taking away the words I have for my experience just hurts me so you can feel a little more enlightened.
For the record, I don’t really see you as much of an asshole, usually.
“But my child!” you say. “My child can’t feed themselves! My child needs diapers! My child cannot be left unsupervised! My child is medically affected!”
Well, yes. Your child is disabled. So am I. I thought we were past that?
(Is Steven Hawking low-functioning?
My child is no Steven Hawking. Indeed. Neither am I. No offense, but neither are you.)
So often the dividing line between really disabled (my child) and high-functioningaka not really disabled(you, a self-advocate disagreeing with me) is writing a blog post or making change for a purchase or reading. I remember being told that if someone can add and read, they can live independently. Well I hate to break it to you, but I am very good at both of those things and I can’t live independently, not even close. I just don’t think that this inability makes me worth less or nothing.
I’m not disparaging the reality of complex developmental and physical disabilities. My own world must function in a parallel and yet fundamentally different and separate realm from even that of my typically developing sister. I have enough imagination, enough personal experience with my own disability, enough time spent living and working with other disabled people, and enough of an ability to hear what people who live with complex developmental and physical disabilities have to say, to know that in some sense it’s a question of scale and that the experience can be dehumanizing for everyone involved.
I’ll spare you the gory details of my life, in part because they are private and in part because I refuse to be a self-narrating zoo exhibit. Been there, done that, Temple Grandin and Donna Williams are better at it. I’ll just say this: it never ceases to amaze me how an entry posted every two or three weeks in the ether about deserving human rights somehow reveals—or, rather, erases—the every intricacy and ramification of a person’s disability in their life.
If my child could write a blog post like this, I would consider him cured. Fascinating. Have you taught him how? Have you given him the time, tools, technology, and accommodations he would need to do so? Have you exposed him to the ideas this blog post runs on, or has he been sheltered and infantilized? Has he been given an accessible, for him as well as his audience, means of communication? Remember, behavior is communication, that’s Best Practice. Have multiple literacies been facilitated? Remember, everyone reads, everyone writes, everyone has something to say is the current forward-thinking in special education, especially for children with complex access needs. But you’re an advocate for your child, of course you must know that. Silly me, I apologize.
Have his attempts at self-determination and self-advocacy be respected and responded to, regardless of form, or has he been taught that passivity is better?
If he were to want to blog about his favorite cartoon, would that be okay? Or does it need to be serious, age-appropriate, legitimate-in-your-eyes business, every time, all the time—because there are no frivolous blogs anywhere on the internet, are there.
If he were to want to document and share his thoughts via, say, music or a painting or an arrangement of objects, would that be okay? Or must it be words?
Are there limits on chances for this? Is any human being ever stagnant?
Oh, and by the way, your child is still a child, right? How many children blog, do you know?
Sorry, I thought this was worth taking seriously.
I am not going to make nice.
It’s a common directive. We all want the same things. How can we ever expect anyone to listen to us when we can’t disagree respectfully amongst ourselves?
I am not going to pretend that a power imbalance doesn’t exist. I am not going to pretend that when non-disabled people attempt to end a discussion with self-advocates they did not enjoy, it is with chastisements and pleas to just get along which hit about a million times harder when aimed at someone who’s been taught to have quiet hands and who’s first sentence was Iwantball PLEASE and who, when they were bullied, was sent to social skills training while their abusers were left roaming in powerful packs of friends.
(In no other minority community is this level of power-play tolerated. You are not our voices, we are not the same, we do not want the same things, and if you aren’t disabled? Then by definition you are not a member of the disability community.)
You have the power. If you do indeed, as you claim, want to be allies, then I suggest you start acting like it.
(And, because I must be nice and patient and helpful and I must educate the people telling me to shut up: for god’s sake, if being an ally, let alone a super-special parent ally, is so very hard, check out PFLAG.)
This is not a “disagreement.” You know what people disagree about? Pizza toppings, ice cream flavors, what Shakespeare meant in the third stanza. Things with small consequences.
You know what happens when we “disagree” about disability?
People die. People get aborted, people get institutionalized, people get sterilized, drugged, and neglected, people go without necessary support and services, people are dehumanized, people are abused, people are silenced, ignored, and erased, people suffer emotional and mental trauma and distress with life-long consequences.
Just as “disability” has become an ugly word for a physical fact, so “disagreement” is being used, here, as a polite word for an ugly thing.
I call bullshit.
I started blogging, years ago, as a therapy tool, as a way to modify journalling so it would be accessible to me. It turned, slowly, oddly, and very autistically, into a method of communication. Now it’s one of the ways I advocate for myself and my people. Mostly I think of it as a survival strategy.
“We all run from the ugly. And the farther we run from it, the more we stigmatize it and the more power we give beauty. Our communities are obsessed with being beautiful and gorgeous and hot. What would it mean if we were ugly? What would it mean if we didn’t run from our own ugliness or each other’s? How do we take the sting out of “ugly?” What would it mean to acknowledge our ugliness for all it has given us, how it has shaped our brilliance and taught us about how we never want to make anyone else feel? What would it take for us to be able to risk being ugly, in whatever that means for us. What would happen if we stopped apologizing for our ugly, stopped being ashamed of it? What if we let go of being beautiful, stopped chasing “pretty,” stopped sucking in and shrinking and spending enormous amounts of money and time on things that don’t make us magnificent?
If we are ever unsure about what femme should be or how to be femme, we must move toward the ugly. Not just the ugly in ourselves, but the people and communities that are ugly, undesirable, unwanted, disposable, hidden, displaced. This is the only way that we will ever create a femme-ness that can hold physically disabled folks, dark skinned people, trans and gender non-conforming folks, poor and working class folks, HIV positive folks, people living in the global south and so many more of us who are the freaks, monsters, criminals, villains of our fairytales, movies, news stories, neighborhoods and world. This is our work as femmes of color: to take the notion of beauty (and most importantly the value placed upon it) and dismantle it (challenge it), not just in gender, but wherever it is being used to harm people, to exclude people, to shame people; as a justification for violence, colonization and genocide.
right. I’ve seen some reactions to cat’s suggestion that people stop using this phrase that are honestly pretty horrifying. I’m having a bit of a bad night, so you’ll have to forgive my brevity, but there are a few things that I’d like to clear up:
when a word specifically targets a marginalized group as “less-than” - when it takes that identity and makes it into an insult - it is a slur. “retarded” is a slur.
offensive words are not the same as oppressive words. slurs are oppressive because they reinforce the idea that belonging to x marginalized group is degrading or something to be ashamed of. offense is a personal injury; oppression is systemic. calling someone “retarded” can be offensive for a variety of reasons, but the implicit insult is always that they are like someone who is disabled. it’s oppressive because “like someone who is disabled” is taken to be negative in the first place.
you’re privileged to be in a position to label others as over-sensitive when they react negatively to oppressive language. think of it this way: if offense is a kick in the shin, then oppression is living in a world where everyone has shin guards but you. just because you don’t experience the harm inflicted by a particular word doesn’t mean others won’t, or that they are unreasonable to say so. you’ve got shin guards - of course you don’t think much of being kicked. you might even be inclined to tell all those bare-shinned people that they’re overreacting. it’s your right to kick people, damnit, and they’ll just have to get used to it. if only they would stop letting themselves get all those bruises!
every essay, every poem
every scrap and morsel of language
i search for her
the one who CAN
the one who rides her scooter feeling like a fraud
because she gets up and walks
the one who knows her crutches
could be tossed away
and for the most part,
she’d be okay
but just okay
the one who can pass
can do everything
who knows she’ll
most likely never end up institutionalized
doesn’t have to rely on anyone else
the one who gets struck down with deceiving labels like “mild”
who could so easily distance herself
if she wanted to
the one who hears ringing accusations in her ears
“you’re a faker!”
“you’re not really disabled!”
“oh you are, but not like them!
not like those poor broken people!”
and she’s afraid that if she listens to them enough
she might start to believe them
i search for her
because in finding her, i will have found myself
“The magnificence of a body that shakes, spills out, takes up space, needs help, moseys, slinks, limps, drools, rocks, curls over on itself. The magnificence of a body that doesn’t get to choose when to go to the bathroom, let alone which bathroom to use. A body that doesn’t get to choose what to wear in the morning, what hairstyle to sport, how they’re going to move or stand, or what time they’re going to bed. The magnificence of bodies that have been coded, not just undesirable and ugly, but un-human. The magnificence of bodies that are understanding gender in far more complex ways than I could explain in an hour. Moving beyond a politic of desirability to loving the ugly. Respecting Ugly for how it has shaped us and been exiled. Seeing its power and magic, seeing the reasons it has been feared. Seeing it for what it is: some of our greatest strength.”—Mia Mingus