Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Don't Call Me One of "Them"

This is something that's been on my mind for a while now and I want to get it off my chest. I receive support three times a week where someone accompanies me out in the community. I start my day off with a workout at the gym. Occasionally there are a couple of other people who have disabilities as well. The people at the gym have embraced me and my differences and treat me like any other member. After I finish my workout I go to the mall.

 My worker and I go up to the food court and work on whatever I have on the go. Sometimes there are several other people with disabilities. I try to stay away from them because of how they are perceived by the general public. I don't want people to associate me with them. The most unfortunate part is that it's not their fault. I blame the workers assisting them. They are often not engaged with the person or just flat out ignoring them. It sends a strong message that the individual isn't worthy of someone's time/ attention. It also leaves the impression that they don't have much of a life and they simply spend their days sitting in malls. It's assumed that they don't have the capacity to communicate or contribute anything to society. It hits close to home for me because sometimes I wonder if I had another kind of disability, would I be in the same boat? Would I be subject to a life of people ignoring me and seeing me as a burden? 

Well I've decided to do some of my own investigating! Next month, I am going downtown to see if I can get people to talk to me. I want to see if I can open up a conversation as a person who has a disability. I hope it opens up people's preconceived notions of what it means to go through life with a disability. I hope I can have some good conversations at the very least!