Thursday, May 5, 2016

Thoughts on Uninformed Judgment of the Handicapped



People who don't understand muscular dystrophy or other disabilities have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that some patients are capable of independent life, including driving, if provided the resources and support to do so. The uneducated public would look at this man and listen to him speak and assume he's too handicapped, perhaps even mentally impaired, but they would be absolutely wrong.

Muscular Dystrophy can greatly affect cognition (we call it brain fog), just the same as Diabetes can, but the diseases have no effect on overall IQ.

Years ago, I had an acquaintance who responded to the greeting of someone in a wheelchair very awkwardly at a public event. The acquaintance runs a non-profit organization, but said she didn't know whether to acknowledge the lady, citing that she assumed the lady was intellectually disabled because of how she looked. As a disabled person myself, I was pretty horrified by that reaction, and it turned out the lady was independent with a non-profit business of her own!

The point is don't make uninformed assumptions about people who are different from you. The best approach when meeting someone like Ira (or me) is to assume we have the capacity to be standard members of society. If the person turns out to not have that capacity, educate yourself and act accordingly, but at least you didn't treat a perfectly capable individual like they were inadequate. How insulting that would be, and it's something they would never forget.

Thanks for reading.