The lady who will walk around the block with our mentally disabled son just because he is a willing walker and even though he chatters all the way,and she most likely can not understand a word he is saying is a gem.
The high school senior who when invited by a boy with multiple disabilities to go to the prom accepted and shared a memorable wonderful evening with him is amazing.
The couple who can patiently wait in line at the store behind us while our girls struggle to get their money out of their wallets, hand it one bill at a time to the cashier, slowly put the change back into the wallets and stand there wondering what to do with the receipt, and then have to take the coloring books out of the bag to inspect them just one last time are so appreciated. To top it off they congratulated the girls on doing a great job of paying by themselves.
Believe me living in the world of disabilities these things do not happen every day. There are so many examples of how normal people treat people with disabilities in such ugly ways out there. In reality I think there is just as much good as bad going on so they balance one another out pretty. well. It is that society has unwritten rules of what is normal and what is not. When you think about it what is normal anyway? The girl who never outgrows her dolls is thought to be abnormal, yet there are many women who collect dolls all of their lives. The difference might well be that one will carry hers along to the grocery store and sleep with it while the other keeps hers neatly stored away at home. The guy who has no arms would find it normal to use his feet when eating, and the people who can not hear may use sign language to communicate and consider that normal. It all depends on where we are as individuals. The disabled person is always trying to figure out how to fit into society and its normal and at the same time society is learning to accept the differences.
In order for society to grow more accepting of the disabled they need to be around them. The best way for the disabled person to be accepted by society is for them to live their lives out there in the community. If the disabled people are comfortable with who they are, feel good about themselves then that will be reflected in their behavior. Lets just say this for the disabled people, life just is not fair so get over it and move on. By that I mean there is always someone who has things better then you do and that is okay. This is true for those normal people, too. If you can be happy with who you are then there will be people in your life who will figure that out and they will then accept you for being you.
As a disabled person, whether you like it or not you will be educating society about your disability forever. That is okay, I would rather have someone be curious and ask their questions then for them to be talking behind my back not having a clue as to what is really going on. Being honest and open about the disability may make things easier for some other people with disabilities in the future. When I was out at a restaurant for lunch with a good friend who happens to be blind and have a maters degree in biochemistry we taught a waitress a valuable lesson. She came to take our order, I told her what I had selected, then she asked me what my friend would like to have. I told her that I thought someone with a maters degree in biochemistry could relay that information for herself. Just because she can not see does not indicate in any way that she is not intelligent. Given the response of the waitress I am sure that she will not do that again. There is no need to go out of your way to educate just do it when the opportunity arises.
Thee is a place for awareness of disabilities in the community. The bullying issue and mental health issue are two that come to mind here. Making people aware that there are people out here living with these issues every day can only be a benefit. That being said only those who are willing learners,who are open to different ideas, will use the new information in their lives. You can teach a kid how to put mittens on their hands to keep warm in the winter, but if they choose not to wear them there is not much you can do about it. They will keep them on when they are ready to.
It is a given that there are some people who can not cope with people with disabilities. Maybe they see themselves as the person with the disability, and it scares the heck out of them so their means of coping is to run away from the experience. That is just to bad for them because they are missing out on knowing some very unique, fun, creative, wonderful people.
Some of you writer types out there may have been able to make the points I am trying to make in a much clearer form, but here it is as I see it. We are seeking balance between what society finds to be normal and how people with disabilities can fit into that normal. We do not have a balance yet. Will there ever be one, not likely because things are always changing, but we can keep on trying, can`t we?