Archive for November, 2008

The Treatment of People with Disabilities

disabilitiesI recently read a post from another blogger about the “right” way to treat someone with a disability.  She had an encounter with someone at a store who had a mental or communication disability.  She couldn’t understand what the man had said to her so she nodded and walked away.  She blogged about her experience, wondering if she had done the right thing.  Other people’s comments to her had a common theme: that most people don’t know what to do, what to say, or how to react to someone with a disability. 

As a society and in American culture (in general), feeling uncomfortable around people with disablilities has been ingrained in us, similar to how our society views the elderly.  This subject hits home for me, as after my mom had a dibilitating stroke, she was both in a wheelchair and had aphasia (the inability or difficulty to communicate).  Disabilities can me mental and/or physical.  I have seen first hand how hurtful it can be the way some people react.  This is painfully obvious when my mom and I go out in public.  It can be the odd looks or avoidance at the grocery store; the blank stare from the waitress when my mom orders food from a menu; hearing people whisper around her “whats wrong with her?”, and even a family member saying “Do…you…remember…me?”.  All of these reactions are based around ignorance.  For instance, my mom is smart as whip and understands most everything perfectly well, yet many people assume she has the mental capablility of a 1 year old just because she has difficulty with verbal communication (aphasia). 

The truth is, is that everybody has a story, everybody is human and everybody, including people with disabilities, the elderly, and the sick- deserve to be treated with respect.  We need to teach ourselves, our friends, and our children how to treat ALL people with respect.  And as the old saying goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

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