Because I started the last post on February 27 but didn’t get it done until March 3, today I’m giving you a bonus round.
I got the idea from surfing around Buzzfeed.com. If you don’t know, it’s a site filled with news articles, fun lists, and fun articles about topics that most people find fascinating at some point or another. On the same day, you might find an article about Women’s History Month or Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic speech from yesterday–in the same place you find an article on 20 reasons to watch a certain Disney movie. Buzzfeed.com also does a lot of culturally-based posts. These include what I call the “tired of hearing” posts. They have titles like:
-Things Black Men are Tired of Hearing
-Things Latinos are Tired of Hearing
-Things ’90s Kids are Tired of Hearing
-Things Indian Women are tired of hearing (BTW, that’s as in, from India, not “Native American”)
-Things Jewish People are Tired of Hearing
And so on and so forth. But you guessed it, there is no, Things People with Disabilities are Tired of Hearing! Now occasionally, you’ll see something like, 20 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Deaf Person, but those are rare. So today, I give you a list I hope you’ll like.
Things People with Disabilities are Tired of Hearing:
1. You can’t do that. Yes, sometimes we can’t. For example, it’s a given that people who are legally blind can’t see well or at all. But this is mostly applied to normal things that temporarily able-bodied folks do all the time, so to say this is an assumption and a clue that you haven’t thought outside the box.
2. You’re such an inspiration! Usually applied to us when we do much more than breathe. While inspiration can be a good thing, it’s not our sole purpose and constantly saying this makes us feel really awkward.
3. Do you need help with that? Not unless I ask, thanks.
4. Yeah, there’s a wheelchair ramp. You’ll be fine. News flash: We do not all use wheelchairs. Yet, this continues to be the first and often only thing people think of when they hear “disability”–thus the only thing for which modifications are readily made.
5. You don’t look disabled Uh, how am I supposed to look?
6. “Retard” and “spastic” are just words So, are you also saying I’m free to call people racial and ethnic slurs because they’re just words? Did not think so.
7. That’s not discrimination. Okay, I don’t know who came up with the rules about disability-based discrimination, but if you ask me, way too many people are getting away with it (more on that in a post down the road). PWDs get claims thrown out all the time because people think it’s okay to bar them from events, schools, and jobs with the excuse, “We can’t modify that/he or she is not capable.” Just stop it. I’d like to find every one of you people and punch you in the face.
8. We’ll put you on a waiting list. AAAAARRRRRGH!
9. I don’t know how you do what you do. I’d kill myself if I had to live like that. Do you realize and/or care that you just implied I’d be better off dead?
10. Well, at least you’re not ___ (fill in alternate disability here There is a “disability hierarchy” present in this country where the more “normal” you can act, the less of a big deal your disability is supposed to be. I guess that’s where we got concepts like high- and low-functioning (although I’ve never heard of medium-functioning; where does that fit)? I understand the purpose of trying to delineate between disabilities, but really, it’s a labeling game that I wish we could wholly get rid of. When people say stuff like this, it shoots other people down no matter what their disabilities are.
11. We all have things about ourselves we don’t like. Yeah, because my cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, autism, whatever, is exactly like your big nose or your extra 10 pounds.
12. We all have disabilities. No, “we” don’t. Check the June 2014 archives for more on that issue.
13. Why can’t you do X? If I want to explain it to you, I will. But when I need help in an immediate situation is not the time to ask this question.
14. But you’re so smart! Honey, if that’s your first reaction, you need more help than I can give you. Move along.
15. I know somebody else with ___ (insert disability here). Good for you. Now you know two of us. And no, I do not necessarily want to meet that person, just like an Asian person doesn’t necessarily want to know every Asian in the world.
16. Can you have kids/sex? Can YOU?
17. What happened/What’s wrong with you? Again, I will explain it when I have to but I don’t like talking about it 24-7. As for the second incarnation of this question, what’s wrong with you? Because you know, we all have disabilities, snark, snark.
18. Who do you live with/Who takes care of you? Are my living arrangements truly your business?
19. Will you get better? Probably not, and for the most part, that’s okay. Asking me kind of makes me feel like I should want to be cured.
I left #20 blank to show the last thing we’re tired of hearing: silence. Sometimes, at least for me, it seems like when people know all they can about my disability, they walk away, or the friendship otherwise fizzles. Don’t do that to me–to us. Ask us normal questions like what we like to do, where we work, where we want to go to dinner. It would mean a lot.