After recently reading the article in the New York Magazine entitled, “Are You On It?” I have been thinking quite a bit and today another wrinkle was cast in my view of disabilities and why some are ‘popular’ while others go without the required supports. Why are some so easily accepted and supported while others are discounted as a product of ____________ (fill in the blank)? The article as you can see brought up a wide array of opinions. I chose to stay focused on the oversimplification that the title implied.
In the end I believe that the overriding thread of ‘connectivity’ that people feel they have with a disability or see in others is the simple fact that we are all human and THAT is where we find our commonality. I believe the majority of people can find aspects of some disabilities within if they take the time to read the DSM-IV. When reading the bible of disabilities be sure you note all the required elements necessary to have a disability and consider how those conditions can impact a person’s life.
In the 90s, I remember watching a little league game and listening to the mothers in the stands talking about which child was on Ritalin and who was not. Which mothers believed they had ADHD and needed Ritalin, while other mothers felt the need to confess they were ADHD because they could not make it through the day without writing down daily tasks. IT wasn’t about asking for help, it was them trying to connect with each other and possibly empathize with their peers.
Are we not searching for a way to connect with each other, or others we do not even know? We humans are a fickle bunch. We are constantly searching for ways to connect, both face to face and from a distance. Some teens work really hard to look different, yet fit right in with their peers. Individuals with disabilities want, and may need, to have separate opportunities yet want the chance to be included with typical peers.
Last year I listened to an Aspie describe the joys and challenges of growing up as a ‘Problem Child’. After reading his memoirs, talking with both he and his mother I could not help but recognize the variety of ways he and the family were managing his disability, growing up, working toward a dream, and doing what he loved. Overriding thoughts he wanted the people in the audience to remember,
- “He would not have made it through High School without his family’s support.”
- “If someone you know says they are thinking about committing suicide, take it seriously”
- “People do discriminate against people who are different.”
- “If you think life is too hard and you think it would be easier to quit, DON’T!”
Does this sound like anyone who may be considered a “Problem Child” in your life? Remember we are all connected and though it may not always be acknowledged we are all searching for a way to connect with others. Be willing to be that person for someone and support them as they fight their battles.