I have Aspergers Syndrome, anxiety disorder and, right now, depression. These are disabling conditions: I am disabled. But I’m not broken.
Disable (v): impair, make ineffective, prevent, render inoperative, preclude, disentitle.
Break (v): shatter, smash, fragment, disintegrate.
The conditions I have mean that there are some common activities that are either difficult or impossible for me to undertake. I am impaired in social situations because I cannot interpret non-verbal communication. I am ineffective in confrontations because my anxiety causes me to panic. I am prevented from concentrating at work by my depression.
So, yes, by the definition above I accept that I am disabled. But that is not the same as broken. Broken implies a loss of integrity. It implies that I am not a whole person, that my disabilities are somehow making me less than a person, less than human, inferior. And I will not accept that.
There are areas of my life where I require assistance or accommodations. It doesn’t mean I’m stupid. Just that I’m incapable of doing some things for myself. To a large degree I have learned to cope with everyday life. But it was a long process and my work-arounds are not perfect, nor are they without some cost to me.
I become exhausted more quickly because of the extra effort. I avoid certain situations as much as possible. I don’t want sympathy. But I do want to be treated with as much respect as anybody else: ableism angers me with its assumption that disabled people are worth less because there are things we cannot do that the able take for granted.
It doesn’t matter to me if somebody is better or worse at doing something than I am: that is not any reflection of their value as a person. I do judge people — that’s a very human thing to do. But I judge based on how they behave towards myself and others. To me that is the measure of somebody’s worth: I believe in treating others as I wish to be treated myself.
Jen at Down Wit Dat is hosting a blog hop. Although the name is reflective of Down syndrome, this hop is open to all blogs in the disability and special needs communities. Self-advocates, allies, parent advocates, all are welcome. Posts can be old or new, as long as they meet the requirements set out at the time. In the absence of a theme or if unable to participate in the theme, posts should be about advocacy or activism.
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