Developmental Disabilities and Disorders, and Stigma Part 1

by Jade S

Dear Readers,

After being made aware of some negative feedback I think there may be a need to clear my name and make my approach understood.  First of all, I hope that no one will believe me to hold any negative beliefs about people who suffer from disabilities.  When I refer to these people, there are a host of politically correct labels and stigmatizing references, so many that it is difficult to seperate the "accurate" ones from the insulting ones sometimes.  I will do my best.
 Second of all, let me explain the context of this particular blog post.  Some time ago, I accepted a position at an adult day training center for the challenged (this is their terminology, not mine).  I spend my days, and sometimes my evenings and weekends, with some of the most charming and pleasant people I have ever come into contact with.  Each one of these people has one or more of five particular disorders, including mental retardation, spina bifida, autism, cerebral paulsy, and Prader-Willi syndrome.  Unfortunately, I have been witness to the attitude of many people in society towards these people: fear, disgust, pity, etc.  My incensement at these types of attitudes will have to be described at a later date; suffice it to say that I find it horrid that people are anything but attracted to the wonderful qualities of the people who have the kinds of disabilities I work with on a daily basis.
Thirdly, let me explain how closely the issues of mental retardation, autism, etc. are tied with the disorders we call depression, anxiety, bipolar and borderline disorders, etc.  Not only do we all suffer from the same types of emotional struggles and life struggles, but we all deal on a daily basis with the stigmatization of our illnesses.  People are afraid of us because of the horror stories (or rumors, as I like to call them) that follow our illnesses.  Like people who are quick to turn from a man  drooling in a wheelchair, they are quick to turn from the person talking from the voices he hears in his head.  They are quick to turn from the man with cuts and burns on his arms from years of abuse and self-injury.  They are quick to turn from anything which makes them uncomfortable, or reminds them that sometimes life throws you a curveball and it can be scary and unpredictable. 

We come to websites and blogs like this one because we want a place to learn and express and describe and heal our illnesses.  We want to be able to read and converse and tell about things that make a lot of people uncomfortable.  This is a place for us to come where we won't find any judgment or stigma about our illnesses, and where we will not feel misunderstood and insulted, but will find acceptance and information and support.  I strive daily to give these things to the people I work for, and I hope that we can give these to each other.  We must understand each other's illnesses, disabilites, whatever you may call them, in order to better learn about and accept each other the way we are.  I believe this involves openly talking about the issues, whether they are depression, mental retardation, autism, ADD, or any other brain disorder that affects our mental health.  I hope that this will spark a discussion that leads to better learning and lesser stigmatization.  

Part 1.

Part 2 under construction. smiley

Comments

Hi Jade, just seen this - beautifully explained and wonderfully put! I worked with a lady I used to take to a day centre for people with various disabilities, I felt so at home, un judged, loved for the qualities I possessed, not for what i had or wore or had on the surface. These were the most accepting people I had ever met.

Hi Jade, I'm glad u Blogged this, I was confused before, but I see what u mean now. I agree and think the descrimination needs to end, its just ignorance. Blogs like this help educate, thanks.

Thank you for taking the time to hear me out smiley It means so much to me to know that people care about these issues and are willing to invest their time in learning about them.

Hi Jade,
What a wonderful blog - it brought a lump to my throat! I know how hard it can be to always write in a PC way but am learning all the time and reading your blog has given me more to think about.
Thank you
Liz

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Thanks so much guys, your encouragement and understanding go a long way. I need all the support I can get; it is such a demanding job environment and taxing on my emotions. You all are great supporters!!!! Jade S
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Excuse me while I have a moment (or two) of absentia....Big subject, lots to say, stigma-both real and imagined, I think...must change the way we think, because "they" wont change the way they think- sure of that. Self acceptance despite public displeasure. Self acceptance. God accepts. Aren't people all tryin to be like God? Not. Racing around in the head...will fly by again! Keep up the good work! :)
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