Disabled Does Not Mean Incapable

There are millions of people in America who can be classified as “disabled”, and unfortunately, this term, comes along with a stigma of being unable to do anything without help. So let us be honest with ourselves, they can do a lot more without aid than people give them credit for.

Many people are sympathetic toward persons with disabilities, but that can be just as bad as looking down on them. It is almost as if your sympathy is screaming, “I know you cannot take care of yourself, so I have pity on you because your life must be so hard.”

It goes without saying that they, like everyone else, deal with never-ending hardships in life, but their hardships are just wrapped up differently from a lot of people.

Then, there are the people who are outright ignorant toward the disabled community. If there is not an obviously apparent problem, then no remark need be made. However, if it is not clear what the disability is, physically or mentally, then the result is endless torment. Sometimes the most debilitating disorders are not obvious from the outside, and when someone questions the extent of their disorder, it is frustrating and hurtful. The worst part is that the offenders in this situation are usually completely conscious of what they are saying.

A more subtle form of judging disabled persons is staring. We have all been told not to stare because it is impolite, but often we find ourselves in awe of what we see. We are unaccustomed to it, and our natural reaction is to stare. If you were on the other end of that, you would feel uncomfortable, and want them to stop. So, why do it?

My mom used a wheelchair on occasion when I was growing up. She has Degenerative Disk Disease, Lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, among a long list of other health problems. She could not walk long distances without feeling excruciating pain throughout her entire body. When we go to amusement parks, people stare at her and make comments.

The most heartbreaking part that I remember was the look on my mother’s face. She looked so hurt. People are not able see her pain, so they are unable understand. They do not understand how hard life is for her on a daily basis. It is a struggle for her to get out of bed, and they stare at her and make snide remarks? It is not fair.

I have plenty of problems in life that are not expressed in a physical manner. I do not feel it is fair to them to treat them any differently. They cannot help it, whether their disability is genetic or the result of an accident. They cannot help it the same way I cannot help that I am short or have brown hair.

  • kathy

    Great comments. I, too, felt the judgmental stares when I had to temporarily use the Handicapped Parking, even though we met all criteria for it & received our placquard. I got stares at when I & my teen stepped out of the vehicle. She just got discharged from a 9 days hospital bout with lupus, involving pulsing steroids, chemo & other meds & rehabs. But hey, neither of us were old farts, so the wicked stares began. Needless to say, I didn’t stand for it!
    Also, homeowner associations particularly persecute the lupus people. Since their afflictions present most often on the inside, they give these folks a hard time. But if you need a wheelchair, well then, that’s okay! A ramp — just fine! Any other accomodation — no way.