As International Day of People with Disability is marked today, this slogan resonated. Pretty well most of my life, folk with a “disabilty” have been part of my close circles – family, friends, community groups – ranging through developmental disorders, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, autism and many other labels that tend to isolate fellow human beings as “special.” Thankfully, society has moved a long way from hiding those who are markedly different from the mainstream and the shared value of integration is much more widely championed than before. But we still have a long way to go.
For a start, the word “normal” should be banned! I don’t know what it is.
I have been stunned at the number of occasions service providers have bandied this term around, because I’m sure they can’t define it either. The best have focused on the abilities the sufferers of various conditions have been able to manifest and built a way forward on those. They pay due attention to what is there, a major corrective to what is lacking. Any of us would realise the defeat in the constant remider of our deficiencies. Recognition of our efficiencies on the other hand, gives us a leg up in dealing with what we lack.
The people in my circles have contributed a great gift, the ability to see things from perspectives not available to the otherwise fully endowed. Forced by circumstance and prejudice to make their way through life, they have a wry “can-do” attitude that is prepared to exercise some pretty herculean tasks. Lateral thinking in meeting challenges is often second nature. Often the poverty induced capacity to enjoy simple pleasures is a lesson for all of us rampant consumers.
So when I see someone bearing a placard that says “Don’t dis my ability!”, I have a hunch I know where they’re coming from.