263: Disability and public perception

I hope the link works. It’s a TED talk given by Maysoon Zayid a comedienne born with Cerebral Palsy. It’s great on so many levels. Her talk brings up many good points that I agree need to be more openly talked about so here are a few thoughts I have about my experience living with Cerebral Palsy and also just for something a little different, why I think that the way some people in this country treat Middle Eastern immigrants and their children is shameful. Cerebral Palsy stuff first though.

  • Like the lady said, it isn’t genetic and it’s not something anyone can catch by hugging me, shaking my hand or bumping into to as w pass each other There is no need to walk on the other side of the hallway or street.
  • CP is different for every person living with it. Maysoon can walk, I can’t. I can speak and express my thought as clearly as someone who isn’t disabled. Lots of people with CP use communication tools. Some are as simple as pictures on a tray they can point to and some as high tech as a computer that is controlled by a person’s eye (yes eye!) movements with a text to speech program that speaks . Conversation wit a person who uses such a device is possible but will probably take a little time., be as patient as you can, it will be appreciated.
  • On a related topic if you see someone who uses a wheelchair, walks with a limp or a cane or a walker etc. don’t make assumptions about their mental capabilities. Same goes for people who use communication tools or someone who has trouble speaking clearly.
  • It isn’t uncommon for people with CP to sound younger than they are over the phone,, if you ask someone if they are an adult and they assure you they are at least behave as though you believe them, calling someone a liar over that kinda of thing is never ok. I once had someone accuse me of lying about my age when I was taking down his message for my parents. That was not his brightest moment and boy did he regret it later
  • A note on service dogs if you see someone in a store. If you see a disabled person in a store with a dog, do not call to, touch or otherwise try to interact with dog. It’s just plain rude, an invasion of personal space, and distracting the dog could put the person in harms way.

My friend who posted the TED Talk to Faceboook is half Pakistani, her mother moved to the US in her twenties and both my friend April and her sister were born girls were born here. Both girls take after their mom a lot, which is to say that if saw them standing with just their dad you probably wouldn’t think the were related.

At least a year after 9/11 April and I were walking and some random snarled “go home terrorist” or something equally nasty as he walked past based on nothing but her skin. I was livid, that person didn’t even know her name and felt justified in naming her a terrorist. As a s side note April has CP as well, though mot a wheelchair user she does walk with a pronounced limp.

Hate is just fear under a magnifying glass. If people put away their fears I bet they would find more in common with ether than they thought.

Part of the Zero to Hero Blog Challenge

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One thought on “263: Disability and public perception

  1. Its wonderful that you are educating people. Most people don’t go out of their way to understand any kind of difference from themselves or the environment they were brought up in. I hope in the future- or you may already do this- you right off their ignorance as just that and continue educated if they seem sincerely interested in understanding. Lack of knowledge is everyone’s weakness about something. The more you spread what you know, the less ignorance is in the world!

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