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No Pity: A Community for People with Disabilities

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10 Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know But Never Dared Ask… [Oct. 8th, 2006|03:46 pm]
No Pity: A Community for People with Disabilities

no_pity

[belizeangazer]
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

These questions were compiled and put together for a Disability Panel by some of the women in Pickitt at Cornerstone University.  What it is, is basically 10 questions you might have always had but never dared ask/ answer.  In the spirit of enlightenment, I have taken it upon myself to answer these questions in a more public domain.  For, while some of my answers are of a more personal nature, many in and of themselves are quite universal.    

 

  1. If you could re-live your life without having your disability, would you? 

No, if it weren’t for my disability I wouldn’t be who I am and where I am now.  I think I’ve gained so much more out of this life by having to overcome obstacles… or things that people just take for granted. 

 

  1. Do you want people to show interest by asking personal questions about your disability?

It depends how people ask and what their purpose for asking is.  There is a difference between being rude and using tact, and I think for the most part people know the difference.  So really it’s the motive behind the asking. 

 

  1. What is the hardest thing in life for you to do?

Its hard for me to tell people that I really can’t do something.  Especially when it might be easy and simple to other people… and it isn’t for me.  I just don’t like letting others down, so I just do… when there’s something I can’t do then I do feel bad for a second and then I realize how lucky I am to be able to do as much as I have done. 

 

  1. What is the hardest obstacle that you have to overcome often?

Recognizing and remembering who people are.  That might not seem like much of an obstacle but when you can’t remember what people look like, you have to learn to be savvy enough to figure out who they are over and over again, because they know me and often I have no clue who they are, and how and where it is that I’m supposed to know them from. 

 

  1. Do you resent people that try to help you?

Resent is a STRONG word.  I really am fine with people helping me if they know who I am and what I need.  I’m always surprised that people know that I need help… and I like people to help me, not to treat me like a baby though… just to help me out when they know I need it… and when they know what they are doing.  

 

  1. Would you rather do things on your own?

Well if I know how to do it better then another person, yes, if I’m not good at doing something then no.  I do like to be independent so being able to do things on my own is nice… other times it is nice to have help from others.  

 

  1. Do you feel any anger towards God because of your disability?

I think at one point or another everyone is angry with God for one thing or another.  When you have a disability it’s the easiest thing to pick amongst all the other things... then you get over it and are thankful for the fact that God has gifted you with so much more then you even deserve. 

 

  1. What do you dislike the most of other people around you (ex- people staring, pointing, etc)?

Whispering, I’m a VIP (visually impaired person) so my hearing is especially good… a lot better then people assume any way.  I’m a VIP, not deaf.  So when people think they can get away with talking about me when I’m right there it’s like… hello:)!... that and its just not good etiquette any way.    

 

  1. What is the best way for us to help you?

Basically treat me like you would like to be treated…  Be sensitive though, to the fact that I can’t do everything the way you can.  Just because I can’t do all the things the way you do, doesn’t mean that I am less then you are, just that I have found a different and maybe an even savvier way of doing those things. 

 

  1. Do you feel awkward when you are around people that are different than you?

???????  I’m around people that are different from me every day.  No one is the same.  Everyone is unique in their own way… so why should I feel awkward?  The big question I think is, do other people feel awkward being around me… I hope not!   

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: moggymania
2006-10-08 11:21 pm (UTC)

Part I

My answers are quite different, so I thought I'd respond with them...for the record, I'm autistic, have PTSD, and was born with a bunch of physical disabilities.

1. If you could re-live your life without having your disability, would you?

No, do you wish you could re-live your life with a different sexuality, gender, or race? Even if they've caused you trouble? I don't... I'm quite fine with who and what I am, not because I've faced adversity or whatever, but just because I'm me.

2. Do you want people to show interest by asking personal questions about your disability?

I'm okay with being asked questions if they are curious (I'm very open!) or have "I know someone like you" type questions -- but I don't want them asking just for the sake of appearing interested in (or not prejudiced against) one facet of me, like I'm a museum exhibit rather than a person.

3. What is the hardest thing in life for you to do?

Not being completely discouraged in the face of the myths/prejudice I encounter among other disabled people, whether bad or good (like the idea that we have extra powers to make up for a disability). Or not letting my anger interfere with educating others.

4. What is the hardest obstacle that you have to overcome often?

The lies taught to me as a kid by society/family -- that my disabilities are defects that I need to make up for in some way, that nondisabled people aren't as interdependent on others as disabled ones are, that the only way to contribute to society is through paid work, that barriers are a medical/personal issue rather than a social one, that I'm good at certain things (writing, school, talking to cats, whatever) to 'counteract' a disability as if it were something to be counteracted, or as if I can't just be good at something like anyone else...

I'm getting a lot better at it, though. I almost answered "my biggest obstacle is the struggle to redirect the anger I feel at ableist garbage towards writing/saying something educational, because sometimes I end up either too angry to do a good job, or in a meltdown so I can't do anything."

5. Do you resent people that try to help you?

I appreciate people that respond to requests for help, or that catch me having supercrip syndrome and intervene, or that alter things so they're not totally designed for a different body/brain type... But like any adult, I get irritated if they leap in to do things for me that I am capable of, or if they insist on doing things for me instead of altering them so I'm included. It's the same as I'd answer as a female if I were surrounded by men, and it's a shame more people don't see it that way.
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[User Picture]From: moggymania
2006-10-08 11:22 pm (UTC)

Part II

...continued...



6. Would you rather do things on your own?

Again, same as any typical adult, same if you ask based on my gender -- I prefer to do things on my own that are reasonably compatible with me, and I have no issue asking for help changing or handling things if they're not. No different from being fine with having help from someone with a task that isn't disability-related, or me helping them with something I can handle more easily/happily. I'm no longer a 'supercrip' that needs to prove my worth by pretending I have a body/brain type that I don't, as if it's better than what I am naturally.

7. Do you feel any anger towards God because of your disability?

I'm atheist... But regardless, I found that question ridiculous and the beliefs about disability behind it insulting. Do you feel anger towards {a deity, your parents, whatever} for making you the gender, sexuality, or color you are? I feel no more reason to be angry about my body or brain for being different than I do for them being female. They aren't the problem 99.9% of the time; society and the attitudes I struggle to overcome are.

8. What do you dislike the most of other people around you (ex- people staring, pointing, etc) do?

It's a long list, but "believing in the medical model of disability" with all of its tenets is the blanket term for it. Including the assumption that believing in the social model of disability must mean my disabilities are minor, and that I don't know what being "really" disabled is like or I'd agree with them. (That's most often from a prejudiced nondisabled person, ironically -- the logic is too funny there: "I know you have that disability but I refuse to accept you have it as much as you claim, and therefore I must know more about the feelings of people with it than you do despite not having that disability at all!" Arrogant!)

9. What is the best way for us to help you?

Instill the social model of disability (which is a bunch of things, really) as the default for understanding or handling disability-related issues, and drop the medical model junk.

10. Do you feel awkward when you are around people that are different than you?

That's silly, and (like the rest of this questionnaire) reflects that blasted medical-model attitude towards disability... Which do you refer to? Whether I'm uncomfortable among Mexican people? Men? Children? People that have reproduced or want to? Disabled people that think the medical model is a great idea? They're all different from me, and my comfort/discomfort level is around the same for all of them -- based on what they're doing/saying rather than the difference involved -- so if the question is "are you more uncomfortable around (disabled/nondisabled people than other types of difference" then the answer is no.
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[User Picture]From: cyberpurple
2006-10-09 01:20 pm (UTC)
Those questions are really interesting and I'm bookmarking this post so I can have a go at answering them in my blog. I was just wondering where you found them from?
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[User Picture]From: moropus
2006-10-09 05:32 pm (UTC)
1. If you could re-live your life without having your disability, would you?
yes

2. Do you want people to show interest by asking personal questions about your disability?
No. I don't ask personal questions about their health.

3. What is the hardest thing in life for you to do?
Get over it.

4. What is the hardest obstacle that you have to overcome often?
Depression.

5. Do you resent people that try to help you?
Resent is a STRONG word. I don't need help because I have my appliances. But yes.

6. Would you rather do things on your own?
yes

7. Do you feel any anger towards God because of your disability?
yes, sometimes


8. What do you dislike the most of other people around you (ex- people staring, pointing, etc)?
Giving me pointless 'medical advice'. There is no operation that will help me. And I've seen scores of doctors who can't help me, so I don't want to see your practitioner.

9. What is the best way for us to help you?
If I need help, I will swallow my pride and let you know. Until then, treat me like everyone else.

10. Do you feel awkward when you are around people that are different than you?
No. I got over that a short while after becoming handicapped a few years ago.
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[User Picture]From: belizeangazer
2006-10-09 08:41 pm (UTC)

Anger-BAD, Enlightenment-GOOD:)....

These questions are derived from the curiosity of people who want to be enlightened on something that they themselves will never fully understand as well as some of us will. As people who experience daily struggles as a result of whatever may be hindering us, I think we have a tendency to put walls up so as not to get hurt. The result of this often is lack of communication and many misunderstandings between parties who will continue to struggle unless we can step up and enlighten others on how best to accommodate our wants and needs. Every person is different so we must learn to advocate for ourselves without being rude. Ultimately etiquette applies to all parties but unless there is some sort of direction or instruction for what has been manufactured… those on the outside are doomed to guess. While guessing can sometimes be fun I suggest compassion, not anger towards our brothers and sisters who must be enlightened in order to understand how best to deal or accommodate to what we probably think is so obvious, but which obviously is not. Why not anger? The world pity’s those who are angry, and we are not in search of pity… rather we as a human race are all in search of understanding and compassion which must be given in order for it to be received.
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[User Picture]From: wakasplat
2006-10-10 09:40 am (UTC)

Re: Anger-BAD, Enlightenment-GOOD:)....

Why do you treat anger like a personality trait rather than like one of many transient emotions in response to particular transient situations?
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[User Picture]From: waterowl
2006-10-09 10:53 pm (UTC)
I answered this in my LJ.
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[User Picture]From: call_me_lovey
2006-10-10 08:39 pm (UTC)

my answers

1. If you could re-live your life without having your disability, would you?

Yes, no question. Even though I've met some wonderful people, who I wouldn't have come into contact w/ , & had opportunities I wouldn't have had otherwise, I'd still say yes. I have no special abilities. Why would I want to cling to any limitations if I didn't need to?
I may know no other life, but I wouldn't be any different without this disability. It would be extremely interesting to see what life would be like without it.

2. Do you want people to show interest by asking personal questions about your disability?

It depends entirely on what they say , how they ask, & how personal the questions are. If they want to know something I'll tell them. Sometimes people have asked the most personal questions ever, but luckily I haven't encountered that since school. People wouldn't dream of asking people without disabilities how they take care of their personal needs, so why ask me?

3. What is the hardest thing in life for you to do?

A lot of things.


4. What is the hardest obstacle that you have to overcome often?


Relying on other people for day-to-day things.

5. Do you resent people that try to help you?

There's no point. I have always needed help & continue to need help, people are going to offer it whether I want it or not, whether I'm at home/out. There is no sense in being too proud to ask for help when I am constantly reliant on it from other people, paid/unpaid.

As for paid staff, I can't go into details, but I see no point in resenting them for simply doing their jobs. It embarrasses me, but I don't resent them. I rely on them; if I don't get on w/ them, they might walk out. The results of that would be horrendous.

6. Would you rather do things on your own?

Yes, but that's impossible.

7. Do you feel any anger towards God because of your disability?

No. It just happened. I am an atheist anyway, so that question is irrelevant to me/my life. I find the idea behind it insulting.

99.9% of the time it's people's attitudes, the fact that something is inaccessible, the focus on changing words to be more disabled-friendly rather than addressing real problems that makes me angry; I don't see any point in being angry about something I can't change.

What I do find annoying is when people say that a disability is a gift which makes me a stronger & better person. They are called 'disabilities' for a reason; they are limitations, whichever way you look at it. They stop me doing things. The 'gift' way of thinking never made any sense to me.

8. What do you dislike the most of other people around you (ex- people staring, pointing, etc)?

When they make comments when I'm in earshot. Staring isn't so bad; people look at each other all the time. I have found the people who don't 'get' me never will. I could explain about my disability until I'm blue in the face & they still wouldn't get it.
People believing in the negative social model of disability, mistakenly thinking everyone who is disabled is lonely, desperately isolated, friendless, & depressed, which is generally untrue.

I think a lot of the time, people who make comments don't mean to be rude; they're just curious, but it comes across in the wrong way.


9. What is the best way for us to help you?

Treat me normally & according to my age. Ask me what I need help with before you do something.


10. Do you feel awkward when you are around people that are different than you?

"Different from me". Yes, but only b/c I believe they feel awkward around me.

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From: esireth
2006-10-10 08:56 pm (UTC)

Re: my answers

People believing in the negative social model of disability, mistakenly thinking everyone who is disabled is lonely, desperately isolated, friendless, & depressed, which is generally untrue.

Um, the social model of disability is basically structured around the idea that people with atypical bodies/minds are discriminated against, which isn't "negative"; it's true. And being discriminated against as a disabled person doesn't mean lonely, desperately isolated, friendless and depressed, any more than being discriminated against for any other reason means being any of those things. Most social model advocates spent a lot of the time fighting the idea that being disabled automatically means having an awful life (and that disabled people who are depressed/lonely/isolated/etc. are just naturally that way because of their impairments).
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