Thursday, 15 October 2015

Other people and the disability bias

It's been a hard year. I'm not going to deny this.


I don't walk around feeling stressed all the time.

I don't have the feeling that my life is any worse or harder than anyone else's.

I don't feel that I have more on my plate than I can handle.

If you were to ask me how I was feeling or how my life is, I'd probably say that life is good, especially now that I am back at work at a job that I love. 

However, I've had a few conversations lately which have made me think about the pervasive perception that people who have disabilities are burdens. 

The comments are well meaning, but are such that the person acknowledges that I've had a tough year, lists off the stressful events and then says something to the effect of "And you have a child with a disability" or "And you have your mother living with you". Like I have all this chaos that I manage and the tipping point must be that I have a child with a disability and an ageing parent with a disability who makes my life more difficult.  The irony is that there could be nothing further from the truth. 

Both Phoenix and my mother "fill my bucket". I love my mom. She's a great woman who has had an interesting (and more recently difficult) life and whom always lends an interesting perspective to most conversations. She is not intrusive, not a challenge to get along with and is most definitely NOT a burden. She is actual a very welcome support who on a day to day basis adds value to my life and to the lives of my family members.

And Phoenix? Even at 5:48 in the morning, Phoenix is the source of so much joy. She's the brilliant sunrise which sparkles with pink and purple and orange.

Phoenix and my mother are not burdens. But it is upsetting to me that the overwhelming impression of others is that they are burdensome.

I would love to hear from others where this association comes from, because in my case it just isn't true.

Edit: I just came upon this  published on The It's an excellent example of the type of bias which people so easily vomit out without thinking about the implications (like how this young girl feels about someone talking about her baby so callously.)


  1. I LOVE this post. I have had my own share of "hard years". When my husband was in Iraq people would ask me "how are you holding up" with this face like he had died and not was just away. I’d respond, honestly, that I was mostly fine. Some people would look at me aghast and tell me something to the effect of “I could never do it”. Eventually I got sick of it. I told people that having a deployed husband is far from the worst possible thing. And even so, no one can be worried and crying and wholly upset every minute of the day for a year. Mostly, my life (our lives even) was good. There were hard moments, as I’m sure there are in your life, but nothing is insurmountable. Most of the time, I was happy for what I did have, even though it didn’t meet the ideal vision of my life – but whose does? People overestimate how devastating some things are. I imagine that having a child who is disabled is one of those things

    1. That's what I generally think too, that peoples assumptions have more to do with THEM than they do with ME.