Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Words create worlds



Cultural perception of disability has long standing historical influences and has been shaped by fear of the unknown.

Ancient Greeks disposed of imperfect babies. The Romans would throw disfigured children under horse’s hooves in games in the Coliseum. Witches were identified by their impairments or by giving birth to disabled children and burnt at the stakes. Changeling children were drowned. Ridiculed as Court Jesters and the village idiot. Differences were caused by maternal imagination if frightened when pregnant, sexual immorality, astrological factors and divine punishment of parent sins.

Fear of the unknown - difference – do we still have that excuse today?

Homes for the elderly reminiscent of the images of the old asylum’s still haunt us. Derogatory, demeaning, dehumanizing. It is still ‘them and us’. Frightening as we don’t want it for ourselves so we ignore it. 70% of us will become disabled as we age.

We in theory have come far from exorcism, bleeding, leeches, cupping, electric shocks, lobotomy and worse. Or have we? There are many therapies and treatments out there and some parents want to cure their child. This is one of the reasons the disability movement have not always seen eye to eye with the carer's movement.

Disability is a product of how we have set our society up. Discrimination, bullying, abuse, hate crime and oppression are still with us. We still struggle with getting on to transport, getting jobs, getting into buildings, communication. Many families/people still feel they can’t go out. Cutting benefits and services adds to the perception of burden that our society has to bear adding to the barriers of prejudice and ignorance. Keeping people stuck in the cycle of institutionalisation and dependency. 

Many charities still exploit pity. Language is bias as we still use such words as; special, client, victim, user, marginalised, suffers from etc. We want to hear about independence, participation, inclusion, choice and more...

 Everyday words.

With social networking diversity is talked about so let’s use words that are inclusive for everyone. This is one small change we can all do which will make a huge difference.

It’s not about political correctness or being positive or even raising awareness it’s about respect and equality for all.
The rest will follow.

 Let’s be and do the cultural and social change we want for ourselves and our children and adults.


After all - C is hip hot and now!

        Equality by 2025   today        
This post was inspired by my recent visit to Re-framing Disability exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians. 

36 comments:

Kit Courteney said...

Love this and it's so true.

It sounds so simple - and it is.

What a wonderfully positive way to start the morning!

PA said...

These sorts of words are more controlling as opposed to things like the R word which are just insulting.
So I would like to add functioning levels to the mix.
Interesting. Good post.

sharon said...

Really interesting post. Thankyou.

sharon said...

Really interesting post. Thankyou.

jazzygal said...

Wonderful, thought provoking post :-)

xx Jazzy

Maggie May said...

Must have been terrible in those days...... little better than animal behaviour, when the mother would eat any malformed cubs/pups etc.
Although we have come on in leaps & bounds since these dark ages, there is still a way to go. (And some of it wasn't that long ago, either.)
This was a thought provoking post!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Happy Elf Mom said...

Wow, I'm... ok with words like special and functioning level because they're so much better than words like "mentally retarded," convey some understanding of disability and (if spoken kindly) are simply clarifying adjectives like tall or older might be. Maybe I am behind times but umm... I don't hear about autism being hip and hot around these parts. It's just considered bratty behaviour, shut your kid up, that kind of thing. Which I thought was really scary until I read some of your history on disability there. WHO is the barbaric and deformed one when we do such things... Thank you, Casdok, for another great post!

Attila The Mom said...

Amen!

Carrie Turner said...

Thanks for this post. It's encouraging and is the guidance that I've been needing.

Sandi McBride said...

I think that disability, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder...many parents (mostly mothers) can see nothing but perfection in their child, and resent the implication that their child may be something less than that...others see imperfections that exist only in their own minds...it's only a win win situation for the child who has a mother such as yourself, dealing with the disability, not denying it, not explointing it, simply accepting it and helping their child overcome. After all this time, it's still a situation of overcoming. Hugs to you and your sweet son...
Sandi

nitebyrd said...

Yes. Caring enough to respect and gain knowledge will bring change.

Akelamalu said...

A very interesting and thought provoking post.

CrackerLilo said...

A girl in my college speech class, with a paraplegic brother, said something so powerful that stuck with me: "The disabled is a minority group which any of us can join at any time." She implored able-bodied class members to think of how we'd need and want to be treated if, heaven forbid, we were hit by a bus or found out we had cancer that required amputation tomorrow or something. It certainly shifted my thinking a bit. (I hope she got an A for that speech!)

It's appalling how so often, able-bodied people see the disability and lose the person who has it. As if a disability has a person, and not the other way around.

kathleen said...

lovely and well said..

Debs Carr said...

Very well said, as usual.

Ron said...

POWERFUL post, Casdok!

"It’s not about political correctness or being positive or even raising awareness it’s about respect and equality for all.

The rest will follow."

Amen!

Thank you for sharing this very important topic, dear lady.

Much X to you and C!

Gran said...

excellent words and message, thank you.

Yuji said...

Very thought provoking!

mum in meltdown said...

What a thought provoking post and wonderful words to start the day in a very positive way.
Tracy x

Terri said...

Excellent post. 'Them' is the most frightening word in the world.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Amazing--to consider the long history of setting people aside in both deed and language. I'd never thought about it in this way before--a very insightful post.

cheairs said...

Makes me stop and think...those are the only words I have now....that is really makes me think....just a really thought provoking post...

Looking for Blue Sky said...

I knew how children with disabilities were treated say 100 years ago, but it never occured to me how much worse it was in centuries past...it makes me want to hug Smiley even tighter tonight xx

Kitty Kay said...

Love it! Reminds me of one of the things I was told after the diagnosis don't stop seeing your child and just see autism, see your child as a child just as you always have.

r.b. said...

:)

starrlife said...

Love this post Casdok- just love it. Hope that you are joining the May 1st carnival. Hope you and yours are well.

Patty O. said...

This is so true, and I love how you bring up the fact that most of us will become disabled in some way as we age. I think this is an issue we all need to work on. As humans it's in our nature to categorize and even be prejudiced or have preconceived notions about people. It's something we all have to fight against all the time. Thanks for shedding a light on it.

Paulene Angela said...

The rest will follow ......
when we can finally see and experience brotherly love through our own eyes and heart.
Pxxx

Gina @ Special Happens said...

There are some days I think we've come so far forward...and other days, I wonder if we've been moving at all.

Dr. Deb said...

Sometimes words can inform, but most times they label and control. I'm with you on that!

secret agent woman said...

Throughout history there have been little pockets of reason in the treatment of various groups such as those wih mental illnesses (as an eaxample). Quaker establishments in England in the 1800's based on the ideas of work and social equality and respect for "that of God in everyone." Humane sanitariums in the Middle East while Europe was mired in the Dark Ages where any difference was thought to be caused by possession. So the capacity for justice and equality for all humans has always been in us, but so often people are ignorant or fearful and in need of education about the issue.

Lora said...

It is so true and yet so simple. If only people would open their eyes to what is really going on then maybe there would be some change.

Autistic Dad said...

Excellent post, and thanks in particular for that fascinating link to the pseudoscience paper which I'm going to go away and read in detail.

You're absolutely right too about charities exploiting pity. I think of the worst offenders as 'grief farmers': They prey on families who are grieving for the children they never had and trap them in the denial/anger stage, telling them that if they keep shouting slogans, one day their children will be 'cured'. Parents in this situation need to come to terms with the way their children are and value them as people, not as victims.

Halo said...

Great post as always :)sorry havent spoke for a while.
Lou was left to wander from her school yesterday. :( - i have a meeting monday about this. Didnt sleep last night and was sick
Im starting a new blog, can you put it up on here, please. http://autismwandering.blogspot.com/
I feel this needs highlighting. thanks

Herrad said...

Hi Casdok,

An excellent post spot on.

Sorry about my lack of visits.
Spike's, our dog, illness, quick death nov/decand being so ill jan/feb to march meant no visits
Since then I have been spending more time sitting in my wheelchair I have also not been visiting.

I just passed by to say hello.
I hope you are doing well.
Love,
Herrad

Pixie's Mum said...

Brilliant xxx