Theo Braddy examines myths, stereotypes and assumptions about people with disabilities.
This blog which I have entitled, Dispelling Myths about people with disabilities will hopefully do exactly that – dispel longstanding misunderstandings about persons with disabilities.
I will tackle many of these myths, stereotypes and assumptions held by society.
These myths, assumptions and stereotypes come from various sources but mainly from what we see portrayed on television in made for TV movies and major motion movies such as Million Dollar Baby. Often, these longstanding misbeliefs are passed down from generation to generation. Even the everyday words we use to refer to people with disabilities reinforced many of these myths, stereotypes and assumptions.
It is my hope that through education and increased awareness brought forth by my sharing from my real life experiences, we will embrace a more inclusive community that values all of its citizens who are living with disabilities.
A Bright Sunny Day
It was a bright sunny day and I always look forward to bright sunny days. You see I am a C- 4 quadriplegic and like most quadriplegics we love to feel the sun on our faces. You see our faces are not affected by the spinal cord injury and the sun feels wonderful. So on this bright sunny day coming out of K-Mart, I decided to sit and sun gaze as I do so often. There on the sidewalk, right outside of K-Mart I paused for a moment or two looking up at the sun. I quickly noticed out of the corner of my eye a lady, probably in her 40’s with a little boy, probably 6 or 7 years old. They were about 50 yards away from me. I wouldn’t have given it another thought but I noticed the youngster pointing at me and saying something to which I assumed was his mother. As I continued to wonder what was being said I noticed the lady giving him something and then telling him something while they both looked at me. All of a sudden the young kid started to walk toward me skipping and smiling. As he got closer I suddenly realized what was happening, so I prepared myself to receive it well. He walked up to me and handed me a dollar bill. I quickly said thank you to him but told him to tell his mom that was not needed and gave it back to him and he ran off as quickly as he came. I then quickly decided to do my sun gazing in another location.
Myth #1: Living with a disability is a personal tragedy and an unending burden and deserves society’s pity.
Reality: People with disabilities are often viewed as tragic figures that society should pity and give handouts. Disability does not mean a poor quality of life. People with disabilities participate in all walks of life including work, family life, church, recreation, and other social activities. It is often the negative attitudes of society and the lack of accessibility within the community that are the real tragedies that people with disabilities need to overcome on a day to day basis.
In my real life story, this mother most likely told her son that I was sitting there begging for money. You see this is one of those longstanding misbeliefs about persons with disabilities that she must have been taught and was still trying to instill into her son. There is nothing wrong with being generous and giving, but when it is attached to negative stereotyping and assumptions about a specific group of people, we can not pass that down to the next generation.
There is much more to say about society’s misbeliefs and assumptions about people with disabilities. Look for my next submission. I will discuss the myths behind the word, “handicapped” and why people with disabilities really don’t like being called handicapped.