A Response to “#AbledsAreWeird” on Twitter

A week or so ago I was on Twitter doing my hourly browse through when I saw a couple of posts including the hashtag: #AbledsAreWeird. I read through a couple of the posts and I found myself as entertained as I was surprised.

I was born with a genetic disability called Osteogenesis imperfecta, commonly known as ‘brittle bones disease’. It is a connective tissue disorder but it’s notorious for causing extremely brittle bones. In my 20 years of life I have experience many strange encounters with generally kind hearted people. When I switched schools right before middle school I found myself being the only student in my grade with a physical disability that was a full time participant in mainstream classes. That being said, I did my best to not make my wheelchair define my school experience. With every person I have in my life my goal is to make people forget about my disability. It is not because I am ashamed of it, but to some degree there is such a stigma surrounding disabilities.

Although I loved seeing people sharing their stories I felt like the hashtag seemed a bit risky. I began to wonder about the alternative: if a bunch of able-bodied people spoke up about every time they felt "uncomfortable" or confused by someone with a disability. Then I realized that this was the exact problem. Half of the stories on twitter were about able bodied people assuming incompetence when it came to an interaction with a person who had a disability. As I said some were in good nature, while others were just plain ignorant. I think the main problem at hand is that disabled people still tend to be stereotyped. We are coming upon a turning point in 2019 but it is not enough. The thought that people do not know how to approach a person with a disability whether invisible to their eye or not, is truly sad. We need more unity. 

I think it would be really beneficial if disability was taught more within school curriculum, even if it's just a small lesson. Exposure is so important. People with disabilities had their own rights movement and I never got a comprehensive lesson on it until I got to college. Those that do not go to my university, or maybe even the particular class that I took, will not have the opportunity to learn about how the ADA came to be. If there is any takeaway from this, I hope more people do research and educate themselves, and if given sensitivity/diversity training at work in the future, take it seriously.

If you want to know more about people with disabilities here are a few amazing YouTube channels you should check out:

Special Books by Special Kids: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4E98HDsPXrf5kTKIgrSmtQ

Squirmy & Grubs (Hannah and Shane): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdomP1JqhnyBQGaBmfDl4KQ

FunsizedStyle (Michaela Davert): https://www.youtube.com/user/FunsizedStyle

Images: 1, 2, & 3