You know what really rubs me wrong? Articles written about the “broken” disabled.
You knows what makes the rub worse? When it’s written by a parent of a child with a disability and they are supposedly trying to make things better in the world for their child.
You know what’s even worse? – When they are Christian. Like, when they have “I’m a Christian” slathered all over their site, when being a Christian is the backbone to their entire message.
Because Jesus wasn’t about that.
Jesus wasn’t about talking about how awkward and broken people with disabilities supposedly are. He was about focusing on the positive – when everyone around him could only see a decaying dead dog, Jesus chose to focus on the gleaming white teeth.
If you have a child with a disability that you are not familiar with, or if you are not familiar with disability point blank, your focus on everything that you find negative about it isn’t going to do one little bit of good to anyone, least of all your child.
Remember that those of us with disabilities have said time and again that having a disability isn’t what sucks overall: it’s the CULTURAL PERCEPTION of disability that sucks.
It’s ACCESS that sucks.
It’s trying to access a conference call and you *can’t* because you are deaf and no one particularly gives a shit in the moment that you can’t hear or participate.
Being deaf doesn’t suck; being excluded is what sucks.
We are not broken!
What about Down syndrome is broken?
Is it the communication differences? Since when is difference “broken”? Are we going to start saying that Indians from India are “broken” because they speak English differently than we do in the United States?!
What about Cerebral palsy is broken?
Is it being spastic? Or a toe-first gait? Again, since when is difference “broken”?
Why not just call the duck-toed walk of a ballerina “broken”? It’s the same thing – only being a ballerina is culturally acceptable so we think it’s beautiful. If having Cerebral palsy was culturally acceptable, the spasticity and toe-first gaits might also be considered beautiful.
We Create Culture
Culture is not something that is handed down to us from heaven: it’s created by us. We are the ones who make culture. We mold it, the lot of us, all of us.
The stuff we put out there is the stuff that shapes the forces of culture and the minute you start putting those “broken” messages out there is the minute you start contributing to the negative flow of water that tries to drown those of us with disabilities.
If any of us wants to truly do something good for our kids, or truly make society a better place, getting rid of that “broken” mentality is a good place to start.
I am not broken.
I can’t hear much, I process sound in my own way, I have flashbacks, terrible dreams, panic attacks, I swing from depression to powerful bursts of creativity, I shut down with certain lighting systems and I need music to be productive.
But I am not broken.
And neither is your child.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.
I couldn’t agree with you more! This trope of brokenness needs to stop!
Brava!!! So true, so real, so beautifully said.
Great post! I have ADHD and Aspergers, and I work with children with various special needs, so this is important to me. I was explaining to someone the other day that, when I am with the kids I work with, I don’t end up thinking about their special needs much. I mean I have to keep their needs in mind when teaching them and caring for them, but what is really more noticeable is their very strong individual personalities. They make me laugh all day long because they are so silly, and sweet, and smart in their own ways. And whatever their special needs are just become one small part of the whole person. If you focus on just that one small part of someone, you are missing out on knowing the whole rest of the person!
it is so true. and sometimes focusing on one part makes you miss out on something that might really contradict everything but makes it so interesting? like if someone focused on my being deaf, they’d miss out how good music is for me, but who would have thought, you know?
thanks for commenting
I love this post. And I love you.
right back at’cha xoxo
More like this please! Especially from parents!
My autism is NOT a missing piece. It’s just a part of me. Are rock climbers incomplete because they don’t do something “normal” like play baseball or basketball? No. Should someone take their flute into a music store and tell them that they want their “trumpet” repaired? No. Then why are we viewed this way?