When you have a disability it’s never far away from you emotionally. It’s not something you get to shake off easily either.
But for others living with us, embarrassment would be a good adjective to use and is potentially the reason why there is still a stigma around disability. In the 1960’s when I grew up, disability wasn’t something you talked about, it was simply brushed under the carpet and ignored.
A parent not coping with a disabled child, or not wanting to know is not an excuse. Disability was an embarrassment for families because of society’s attitude. For those of us like myself with a disability, we were considered and referred to as ‘spastic’ by society, it didn’t matter how mild or severe the disability was.
Even though our thinking was normal, we were treated differently because we looked different and therefore weren’t considered normal and because society considered us different, so too were people’s opinion, attitude and understanding of us and our disability. We grew up around non-acceptance.
We have made strides in 2018, but we still need to do more to bring about a permanent change in people’s prejudices and attitude, but it’s not only around disability. I don’t get it. Underneath we’re all the same, therefore shouldn’t we treat everyone in the same way? We create and perpetuate prejudice. It’s unnecessary.
There is a famous quote by Albert Einstein that says, “I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university,” and that is the point. Why does it matter that I have a disability, why does it matter that we look or talk differently, why does it matter that we don’t have the same opinions?
Life is too short for us to judge, or for others to stand in judgment of us. We must learn to be accepting of each other, no matter our gender, race, colour, sexual orientation, or whether we live with a disability. We are all equal and should be treated as such.
We must learn to embrace our differences without pointing the finger and thinking we’re better than someone else, because that’s simply not true. We need to work together, not only for society, but for the world.