Monthly Archives: April 2012

“I’m not trying to hide anything. I wear it on my sleeve.”

Those words are from one of my favorite songs, “No More, No Less” by MercyMe. These words are true of me in more than one sense. Two years ago, I decided to get a tattoo on my left arm as a way of mourning the loss of its use…

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

The cruciform sword serves to remind me of Christ’s death on the cross for me and that God’s word is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12).  The reference to 2 Corinthians 12:9 reminds me that  God’s grace is all I need and that His strength shows through my weaknesses.

Today, I got a new tattoo, but this one is a way of celebrating the progress I’ve made and the changes in my life over the last few years…

"Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." - Galatians 6:2

I’d like to thank my friend Mike Munster for his most excellent artwork.

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Filed under Autism, Disability

Concerning disabilities and being human…

In this post, I’d like to examine some of the things people say about disabilities and the attitudes behind them. I may ramble a bit, so bear with me…

In my previous post, one of the things I wrote is that I need my friends to believe me when I say I can’t do something. That seems to bother some people. They view such statements as defeatist. I’m not afraid of challenges. My left arm is paralyzed. Sure, I can ride a motorcycle, but if you tell me to clap my hands, I’m going to have to say “I can’t.” I’m not a defeatist; I’m a realist. Please understand that an ability in one area does not imply a lack of impairment in another.

Upon learning that my arm is paralyzed, people often say something like, “I don’t see a disability; I see a person,” or “You seem quite normal to me.” I understand that this is usually in an effort to be polite, but I argue that not seeing the disability means not seeing the whole person. Experience shapes us; we change as we adapt. My disability affects my life experiences, so it has had a significant role in forming the person I have become. Another thing to consider is that these statements rely on the assumption that disability makes one less. This is called “ableism.”

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “ableism” as “Discrimination in favour of able-bodied people; prejudice against or disregard of the needs of disabled people.” Fiona Campbell provides a more academic definition: “A network of beliefs, processes and practices that produces a particular kind of self and body (the corporeal standard) that is projected as the perfect, species-typical, and therefore essential and fully human. Disability is then cast as a diminished state of being human.”

A supervisor once said to me, “Disabled people don’t ride motorcycles.” He was well aware of my disability. He continued on to make his point, which was that, since I don’t “act disabled,” I can’t ask for the accommodation I was asking him for. This stems from the same kind of thinking as the more polite comments I mentioned earlier. In essence, he was saying that disabled people look and act differently from “normal” people, and because I look and act in ways that fit his standard of “normal,” I can’t be disabled. It seems pretty silly when I put it that way, doesn’t it?

I am fully human AND I have a disability. Let’s start with that…

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Filed under Disability, Discrimination, Work