Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.
It is an awful thing to be betrayed by your body. And it's lonely, because you feel you can't talk about it. You feel it's something between you and the body. You feel it's a battle you will never win . . . and yet you fight it day after day, and it wears you down. Even if you try to ignore it, the energy it takes to ignore it will exhaust you.
It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me…
When you focus on someone's disability you'll overlook their abilities, beauty and uniqueness. Once you learn to accept and love them for who they are, you subconsciously learn to love yourself unconditionally.
I Have a Dream... someday my son, Zyon and ALL individuals with disabilities will be seen as HUMAN beings. I Have a Dream... someday the human & civil rights of individuals with disabilities are honored and they are treated as equals. I Have a Dream... someday ALL parents who have children with disabilities see their child as a blessing and not a burden. I Have a Dream... someday there will be more jobs and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. I Have a Dream... someday there will be UNITY "within" the disabled community. I HAVE A DREAM!!!
I am conscious of a soul-sense that lifts me above the narrow, cramping circumstances of my life. My physical limitations are forgotten- my world lies upward, the length and the breadth and the sweep of the heavens are mine!
There was a lot of pain in that kiss. There was so much hurt and so much fear in it. I felt tears rolling down the both of our faces. But, in that kiss, there was even more want. We both wanted to smother out that pain, to not have so many horrible things in the all too recent past, to just be normal, to do the types of things we were supposed to be dealing with besides death and disability.
Not being able to talk sucks. There's no doubt about that. There's a lot of times when I almost feel like I'm trapped inside of myself. Like if I don't talk or yell or scream or laugh I'm going to explode. A lot of the time it almost feels like I'm suffocating.
I've met so many parents of the kids who are on the low end of the autism spectrum, kids who are diametrically opposed to Jacob, with his Asperger's. They tell me I'm lucky to have a son who's verbal, who is blisteringly intelligent, who can take apart the broken microwave and have it working again an hour later. They think there is no greater hell than having a son who is locked in his own world, unaware that there's a wider one to explore. But try having a son who is locked in his own world and still wants to make a connection. A son who tries to be like everyone else but truly doesn't know how.
Sometimes, it is true, a sense of isolation enfolds me like a cold mist as I sit alone and wait at life’s shut gate. Beyond there is light, and music, and sweet companionship; but I may not enter. Fate, silent, pitiless, bars the way…Silence sits immense upon my soul. Then comes hope with a smile and whispers, ‘there is joy is self-forgetfulness.’ So I try to make the light in others’ eyes my sun, the music in others; ears my symphony, the smile on others’ lips my happiness.
If you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well. In my opinion, one should concentrate on activities in which one's physical disability will not present a serious handicap. I am afraid that Olympic Games for the disabled do not appeal to me, but it is easy for me to say that because I never liked athletics anyway. On the other hand, science is a very good area for disabled people because it goes on mainly in the mind. Of course, most kinds of experimental work are probably ruled out for most such people, but theoretical work is almost ideal. My disabilities have not been a significant handicap in my field, which is theoretical physics. Indeed, they have helped me in a way by shielding me from lecturing and administrative work that I would otherwise have been involved in. I have managed, however, only because of the large amount of help I have received from my wife, children, colleagues and students. I find that people in general are very ready to help, but you should encourage them to feel that their efforts to aid you are worthwhile by doing as well as you possibly can.
What would happen, they conjectured, if they simply went on assuming their children would do everything. Perhaps not quickly. Perhaps not by the book. But what if they simply erased those growth and development charts, with their precise, constricting points and curves? What if they kept their expectations but erased the time line? What harm could it do? Why not try?
Now, Woolf calls her fictional bastion of male privilege Oxbridge, so I'll call mine Yarvard. Even though she cannot attend Yarvard because she is a woman, Judith cheerfully applies for admission at, let's call it, Smithcliff, a prestigious women's college. She is denied admission on the grounds that the dorms and classrooms can't accommodate wheelchairs, that her speech pattern would interfere with her elocution lessons, and that her presence would upset the other students. There is also the suggestion that she is not good marriage material for the men at the elite college to which Smithcliff is a bride-supplying "sister school." The letter inquires as to why she hasn't been institutionalized. When she goes to the administration building to protest the decision, she can't get up the flight of marble steps on the Greek Revival building. This edifice was designed to evoke a connection to the Classical world, which practiced infanticide of disabled newborns.
Near the end of Love's Labor , Eva Feder Kittay (1999, 154) writes that a fundamental aspect of a just society is related to the conditions and limits of mothering. In a just society, women with disabilities can mother because there is adequate emotional and material support for them to do so, and given a context of support and approval to reproduce, they can also choose not to bear children. In a just society, mothers of children with disability can mother, and they, their children, and other needed caregivers will be adequately supported." (15)
Can you stand on your legs? Sydelle Pulaski asked. Can you walk at all? People never asked Chris those questions; they whispered them to his parents behind his back. N-n-no. Why? What better disguise for a thief or a murderer than a wheelchair, the perfect alibi. Chris enjoyed being taken for the criminal type. Now they really were friends.
An aged monk led me to the infirmary. "He's got the place to himself. Once the other invalids learned there was a dragon coming they miraculously got well! The lame could walk and the blind decided they didn't really need to see. He's a panacea.
The world has a fast-growing problematic disability, which forges bonds in families, causes people to communicate in direct and clear ways, cuts down meaningless social interaction, pushes people to the limit with learning about themselves, whilst making them work together to make a better world. It’s called Autism – and I can’t see anything wrong with it, can you? Boy I’m glad I also have this disability!
When the sun of consciousness first shone upon me, behold a miracle! The stock of my young life which had perished, steeped in the waters of knowledge grew again, budded again, was sweet again with the blossoms of childhood. Down in the depths of my being, I cried, ‘it is good to be alive!’ I held out two trembling hands to life, and in vain silence would impose dumbness upon me henceforth! The world to which I awoke was still mysterious; but there was hope and love and God in it, and nothing else mattered. Is it not possible that our entrance into heaven may be like this experience of mine?
Our family was starting. We kept on moving with our young lives, shortly afterward and took Ben Young with us everywhere. But pretty soon Pegi started noticing that Ben was not doing the things some other babies were doing. Pegi was wondering if something was wrong. She was young, and nothing had ever gone wrong in her life. People told us kids grow at different rates and do things at different times. But as Ben reached six months old, we found ourselves sitting in a doctor's office. He glanced at us and offhandedly said, "Of course. Ben has cerebral palsy." I was in shock. I walked around in a for for weeks. I couldn't fathom how I had fathered two children with a rare condition that was not supposed to be hereditary, with tow different mothers. I was so angry and confused inside, projecting scenarios in my mind where people said something bad about Ben or Zeke and I would just attack them, going wild. Luckily that never did happen, but there was a root of instability inside me for a while. Although it mellowed with time, I carried that feeling around for years. Eventually Pegi and I, wanting to have another child after Ben, went to se an expert of the subject. That was Pegi's idea. Always organized and methodical in her approach to problems, Pegi planned an approach to our dilemma with her very high intelligence. We both loved children but were a little gun-shy about having another, to say the least. After evaluating our situation and our children, the doctor told us that probably Zeke dis not actually have CP-he likely had suffered a stroke in utero. The symptoms are very similar. Pegi and I weighed this information. To know someone like her and to make a decision about a subject as important as this with her was a gift beyond anything I have ever experienced. It was her idea, and she had guided us to this point. We made a decision together to go forward and have another child.
It was probably no accident that it was the cripple Hephaestus who made ingenious machines; a normal man didn't have to hoist or jack himself over hindrances by means of cranks, chains and metal parts. Then it was in the line of human advance that Einhorn could do so much.
In retrospect, it seems obvious that my research about parenting was also a means to subdue my anxieties about becoming a parent.... I grew up afraid of illness and disability, inclined to avert my gaze from anyone who was too different – despite all the ways I knew myself to be different. This book helped me kill that bigoted impulse, which I had always known to be ugly. The obvious melancholy in the stories I heard should, perhaps, have made me shy away from paternity, but it had the opposite effect.
The lingerie department is the only one that she can reach in her wheelchair. Nevertheless, she is fired the next day because of complaints that a woman who is so obviously not sexually attractive selling alluring nightgowns makes customers uncomfortable. Daunted by her dismissal, she seeks consolation in the arms of the young manager and soon finds herself pregnant. Upon learning of this news, he leaves her for a nondisabled woman with a fuller bustline and better homemaking skills in his inaccessible kitchen.
...Goddamn himself for letting his independence slip away from him. He didn't even know how it had happened, how he had lost the ability to function on his own, or what the hell he was going to do about it now.
Our culture teaches that sex is for the sexy, and the only way to be sexy is to be pretty. No wait--that's still too weak. Sex should properly arise from sexiness. For unsexy people--fat people, old people, funny-looking people, disabled people--to even feel sexual desire is inappropriate, perverse, disgusting. For them to engage in sexual display is offensive. For them to have sex...well, there oughta be a law.
In America access is always about architecture and never about human beings. Among Israelis and Palestinians, access was rarely about anything but people. While in the U.S. a wheelchair stands out as an explicitly separate experience from the mainstream, in the Israel and Arab worlds it is just another thing that can go wrong in a place where things go wrong all the time.
To be Kaspar Hauser is to long, at every moment of your dubious existence, with every fiber of your questionable being, not to be Kaspar Hauser. It’s to long to leave yourself completely behind, to vanish from your own sight. Does this surprise you? It is of course what you have taught me to desire. And I am a diligent student. With your help I have furnished myself inside and out. My thoughts are yours. These words are yours. Even my black and bitter tears are yours, for I shed them at the thought of the life I never had, which is to say, your life, ladies and gentlemen of Nuremberg. My deepest wish is not to be an exception. My deepest wish is not to be a curiosity, an object of wonder. It is to be unremarkable. To become you—to sink into you—to merge with you until you cannot tell me from yourselves; to be uninteresting; to be nothing at all; to experience the ecstasy of mediocrity—is it so much to ask? You who have helped me to advance so far, won’t you lead me to the promised land, the tranquil land of the ordinary, the banal, the boring? Not to be Kaspar Hauser, not to be the enigma of Europe, not to be the wild boy in the tower, the man without a childhood, the young man without a youth, the monster born in the middle of his life, but to be you, to be you, to be nothing but you! This is my vision of paradise. And although the very existence of such a vision reveals nothing so much as my distance, which widens into an abyss even as I try to fling myself across, still I am not without hope.
Another myth that is firmly upheld is that disabled people are dependent and non-disabled people are independent. No one is actually independent. This is a myth perpetuated by disablism and driven by capitalism - we are all actually interdependent. Chances are, disabled or not, you don’t grow all of your food. Chances are, you didn’t build the car, bike, wheelchair, subway, shoes, or bus that transports you. Chances are you didn’t construct your home. Chances are you didn’t sew your clothing (or make the fabric and thread used to sew it). The difference between the needs that many disabled people have and the needs of people who are not labelled as disabled is that non-disabled people have had their dependencies normalized. The world has been built to accommodate certain needs and call the people who need those things independent, while other needs are considered exceptional. Each of us relies on others every day. We all rely on one another for support, resources, and to meet our needs. We are all interdependent. This interdependence is not weakness; rather, it is a part of our humanity.
Finally, especially in the case of medical-response canines and those that serve handlers with invisible disabilities, it's not merely the necessity of the dog that's questioned but also the existance of the disability itself. And for these partnerships, some of the greatest problems arise.
Que ceux qui n'ont jamais eu peur d'avoir un enfant anormal lèvent la main. Personne n'a levé la main. Tout le monde y pense, comme on pense à un tremblement de terre, comme on pense à la fin du monde, quelque chose qui n'arrive qu'une fois. J'ai eu deux fins du monde.