Friday, April 30, 2010

Educating people

So since my last blog post got a lot of comments about a disabled person's responsibly to educate the masses, I thought I would put in my 2 cents. First, I see and understand both sides. People don't get taught how to correctly interact with people with disabilities. On the flip side, people with any difference (disability, sexual orientation, race, gender identity, etc.) are not here to educate people about how to relate to them.

If I were to talk to everyone that looked at me funny, made one tiny comment, or even ignored me and talked to my aide, I would do nothing but that. And I want to do more in my life. But if a person is genuinely interested in me and is not sure how to communicate or approach me, I'm glad to "educate" them.

Many of you (in my previous posts) have asked why I don't yell at the people who annoy me. I don't because I know they are just trying to be nice and don't know how to act. If anyone was intentionally mean you bet I would whip my board out and give them some choice words. When I was younger and people used to come up and hug/pet me, my mom would yell at them. I totally understand why she did that, but it probably put some people off from approaching any person with a disability. That is the reason I never yell at people who are trying to be nice. However, some people (as much as you try) will never understand that I am smart and just like everyone else. Trying to educate them would only lead to frustration. I hope this sheds some light on my philosophy of educating people.


  1. Personally I've always found it really difficult to be in the right frame of mind to calmly and usefully "educate" people when they've done something stupid which has put me in pain. Yelling "Stop! Get off! Let go!" is as educational as I can be at that point, and once they have let go, I'm much more concerned with getting some painkillers inside me and getting away from them, than fulfilling my perceived responsibility to explain things.

  2. How about making up cards with a link to your blog and handing them out?

  3. "Congratulations! I write "The Deal with Disability" blog, and I've just chosen you to be our next Very Special Guest Star!"

  4. I usually don't "educate" people about my son (8yo, epileptic [causing brain damage], low IQ, bipolar,...) unless it seems absolutely necessary. People these days should watch enough TV or read enough TV to know what causes someone different or act out.

    I agree with 'Anonymous' about the cards, though. They come in handy!

  5. Yeah, those cards might be a super good idea, actually! If you've taken the time out to have a specific space where you deconstruct disability, really break it down, then you won't need to waste your time doing it over and over again throughout your day! It must be really frustrating to know that if you stopped and talked to every ignorant person, you literally would never do anything else.

    Handing them a card would let them know that you 1) do not have time for their immature and unacceptable behavior and 2) have already taken the time to explain that shit and they should make the effort to seek the information out themselves if they really want it, instead of relying on you as though you were at their disposal.

    They can educate themselves in their free time just as you write about educating them in YOUR free time!

  6. Maybe you don't yell because you can't? Just how many people who come to this blog do not know you're not verbal?

  7. First off, I would like to say that I admire your strength and tenacity and I'm inspired by reading your blog.

    I have a disability myself (which effects my upper body) and I can relate to a lot of the things you discuss (ex. comments people make when they see you drooling, haters who question your abilities and the pressure of feeling like its your job to educate people about your disability).

    I just want to wish you all the best & to encourage you to keep on doing what you're doing!

    - Joanne

  8. I went to an interview for a pager job and after answering the disability question with a "no", the interviewer suddenly got up and screamed "you lie!! you lie!! look in the mirror!!" As patiently and professionally as i could, i explained it was a paralysis of the seventh facial nerve, and that it did not affect my ability to do the job.
    When i walked outside after the interview, i looked down and noticed that my hands were shaking--not from fear, but from years of trying my best to handle situations like this with poise and dignity.
    I needed to go to the bank, but when i walked up to the counter, the first thing out of the rep's mouth was "what happened to your face?"
    So i replied "is that the way you talk to your customers here?"