Nickolas Hughes

Opinion Editor

Over the past couple of weeks I have been doing an experiment. This experiment is focused on what reaction a person has when I tell them that I have autism. To my surprise, there were no bad reactions. I thought I would get at least one person to change their attitude about me with this revelation. Most of the reactions I received were along these lines, “I would never have guessed that.” To be honest, I should not be surprised at this type of response. What saddens me and what I urge everyone to stop doing is to stop taking pity on those with disabilities.

Pity, whether we want it or not, is something that people with disabilities receive daily. I want to challenge you to look past the disability. Look at the person as a person. Not someone who is broken, and not someone with something fundamentally wrong with them. People with disabilities are not broken.  There is nothing wrong with us. We have a spirit and determination to excel in what we cannot do. That is my belief and I know there a lot who would agree with me. What good does looking down on someone with a disability do? There is no argument that could be presented that would convince me that people with disabilities are at a lower class than those who do not have disabilities. Just because someone has something like autism, down syndrome, MS, being paralyzed or any other number of conditions does not make us less.

People with disabilities are a great asset to people. I could go on to tell you all the qualities that make us great, but there is a better point that can be made. It is my firm belief that people without disabilities can learn from those who have disabilities. The daily struggles that people with disabilities face can be overwhelming, but we are doing our best. Something as simple as going outside can be a struggle for someone who has agoraphobia for instance. Agoraphobia is the fear of going outside if you did not know. Adding basic numbers together can be a taxing and emotionally draining challenge for someone who has a learning disability in math.

I am not trying to guilt people with this article though, I want to stress that. What I want you, the reader, to get out of this article is that people with disabilities are people, and we are a strong group of people. We may be the strongest group of people around. The reason for this is because having a disability does not discriminate, it does not care what color your skin is, it does not care what your sexual preferences are, and it does not care how wealthy you are. People from all groups have disabilities and those disabilities are dealt with as a community.

To put it simply, we do not want your pity, we want your support. Help us, so that we may help ourselves. Be compassionate about what you do and do not let others tear you down for any reason. I tore myself down far too many times for me to sit idly by while someone who has a disability is pitied. Learn from my mistakes and build yourself up. To the people with disabilities reading this, stay strong. We got this and we can do it. Nothing can stop us and we are stronger than many believe. Just remember to stay positive!