Disability 101: I have a voice

Discussion in 'General Health & Wellness' started by TwoCatDoctors, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    This is in the ADAWatch.Org and I love it and maybe it might give an insight to some parents, and friends of the disabled, and help some people understand this woman and other disabled. Actually, sometimes we, including me, have been looked down upon and even talked down to because we are disabled as if our disability has "dumbed us down." I'm in an electric scooter and am mobility disabled. I even had a male relative push to take over my checking account when I became disabled when he was so deep in debt himself--of course I said no. So I thought I would share this. Two Cats


    Disability 101: I Have A Voice

    By Sandy Lahmann

    Daily Summit County, Colorado

    I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to explain this to you. I guess it’s about a dumbing down, a denial of respect, a denial of dignity, a loss of voice.

    I have a voice. I have a well thought out opinion. I have valuable knowledge. I am capable of making sound decisions.

    But some people apparently think I don’t and I’m not. Just because I use a wheelchair. There’s a stereotype, an assumption, that people who use a wheelchair, people who are blind, people who are deaf, and other people with disabilities are not very intelligent.

    As a result, some service providers, family members, co-workers, and community members feel compelled to tell us what to do. They feel a need to instruct us, guide us, inform us, explain to us, decide for us, and lecture us about how we should live our lives. And then they want to speak for us.

    In other words, they treat us like children who must be protected for their own good. How terribly patronizing. It curls my toes. It sets me to screaming in frustration.

    I am 46 years old. I have a college degree with a 4.0 GPA. I am a successful professional. I raised two children into two awesome and successful adults. I am not a child. Despite the fact I use a wheelchair.

    I don’t need you to tell me how to manage my disability, what health care to pursue, what prescription drugs I should be taking, what supplements I should be taking, what food I should be eating, what exercise I should engage in, what extracurricular activities I should be participating in, where I should be living, whether or not I should be applying for social security benefits, what I should think, what I should believe, what I should do, and how I should breathe.

    I really can figure these things out for myself. I am capable of doing my own research. And I have. I am capable of seeking out and evaluating the opinions of professionals. And I have. I am capable of weighing all the evidence and deciding for myself. And I have.

    Why is it some people without a disability automatically think they know better than a person with a disability about how to live with a disability? It just doesn’t make sense.

    Then some people without a disability want to speak to other people without a disability about what it’s like for people with a disability. How about if people with disabilities speak about what it’s like for people with disabilities?

    I have a voice.

    TASH, a civil rights organization for people with disabilities (www.tash.org) shares the following verse:

    “You do not know what I see, what I believe, what I dream, what I know. You do not live my life! You cannot be my voice. - From the Voice of the Highly Regarded (If I ever do want you to speak for me I’ll give you a call.)”

    T-shirts with the saying are available from The Nth Degree at www.thenthdegree.com<http://www.thenthdegree.com>; .

    Sometimes I might have an opinion with which you might disagree. Sometimes I might make a decision with which you might disagree. Sometimes I might take a risk and do something that’s not totally safe. And that is my right.

    There is dignity in formulating my own opinions. There is dignity in making my own decisions. There is dignity in taking risks. Not to mention a life well lived.

    Show me respect my granting me this dignity.

    http://www.summitdaily.com/article/20090315/NEWS/903159975/ 1078&ParentProfile=1055&title=Disability%20101%20%20I%20Have%20a%20Voice
  2. lynncats

    lynncats New Member

    Wow, that to me was something. Sorry I haven't seen you post before now. I'm gonna re-read it. Thanks!!

  3. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    Lynn, thanks for noticing it and reading it and going to re-read it. I felt the person who wrote it, wrote a very heartfelt piece and might help others here who either have disabled friends, relatives or co-workers. Plus those who are disabled might see a kindred spirit in the writing. Many hugs.
  4. butterflydream

    butterflydream New Member

    Thanks for sharing this , all was very well said.

    Hope many do read your post TwoCatDoctors
    Thanks again for posting

  5. TwoCatDoctors

    TwoCatDoctors New Member

    Thanks so much for reading it and taking the time to respond and I appreciate that.

    I'm in a local disabled support group and a man in an power chair was there who had trouble speaking and it took him a long time to get a sentence out. He told us a problem for him was that people and even doctors felt he had no intelligent or needed a person to handle his affairs because of his speech problem. I really felt for him because he had a normal intelligent brain behind that speech problem and people didn't look beyond the speech problem.

    There is a young woman in the group who had a stroke that paralyzed her one side and took her voice. She can say one word at a time and it takes a lot to get out that word. Her machine to speak has been " in the repair shop" for over 6 months trying to resolve the problem it has. But people think she is "dumb" but she is very smart and very understanding. After you are at the group for several meetings, you learn to communicate much better with her and her brain is very active but locked up behind the speech problem. It could happen to any of us in a split second like it did to her.
  6. lynncats

    lynncats New Member

    alls I can say is Amen!!
  7. butterflydream

    butterflydream New Member

    a stroke or whatever could happen to any of us TwoCatDoctors.

    That's wonderful you attend the local support group, many disabled are intelligent people.

    Maybe you can pass on encouragement of how well they are doing to also boost their self esteem.

    Wish alot of people would read your post, all was indeed interesting.

  8. mpatterson

    mpatterson New Member

    Hi Two Cats,

    Thanks for the post! It might be beneficial for some on this board to check out the site GM has created regarding what others are saying about disability and mobility issues. Their page on Facebook brings people with mobility issues together to share their stories, and also to provide details about their mobility program. Here is the link if you're interested: