I live in an area where disabled people are few and far between. One could easily say the people of West-Central Minnesota are not immersed in the varieties of disabilities that occur in our world.
So, it is understandable when people don’t know the particulars of living with a disability. I was so upset, when again today, multiple people approached me at my work (Wal-Mart, for those not in the know) and said things like, ‘It’s so great to see you out! It’s so great to see you working!! It’s so great you don’t have to be in an institution!’ Yes, these things were said to me today.
I am immersed in my disability, Spina Bifida. I was born this way. And nothing can change it. So, I have adapted. I have overcome. But, our world still has people who are not sure how it works. There once was a time when disabled people were shunned away from society. The term Handicapped actually comes from the last 200 years when disabled people were not allowed to work, so they sat on the street with their cap in their hand begging for food, or money to survive.
Then there was a time where disabled people were placed in special homes, or hospitals where they could be continually monitored for unknown health reasons. So, it’s not a surprise when people approach me with surprise that not only am I not living in an institution, I have a job, I am happily married and I am a mobile D.J.
I want this to be a springboard for discussions. In order to learn what we don’t understand we need to talk. We need to have conversations. When we encounter something we don’t understand, we need to ask questions and then, listen. I hope that is coming true these days. But, we have a long way to go. Will you join me in my mission to help others learn about ourselves and not make the mistake of putting them in a box we think they need to be in?