Springingtiger's Blog

Some Thoughts on Disability
April 5, 2012, 21:13
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I had hoped to produce a new post, but internet problems are compelling me to post from a phone that insists on spelling “autistic” “autism” so today I’m looking again at disability.

I know that technically Asperger’s syndrome is classed as a disability but generally it occurs more as a major inconvenience or in Terry Pratchett’s terminology a “buggeration”. There are many people around with physical and mental conditions that do occur for me as serious disabilities. As a rule the disabilities of others tend not to impinge much upon my consciousness but this week disability is very much in my thoughts.

A little over a week ago I managed to tear the long muscles in my back, fortunately it is an injury from which I will recover but it makes me aware – if only temporarily – of some of the problems people with physical disabilities face. Painkillers help but I am having to make many adjustments just to get through a day. Whereas I would normally expect my legs to support me I am having to use my arms as well, when performing tasks like cleaning my teeth I have to hold on to the basin with my free arm. Gardening as I am accustomed to doing it is out of the question at the moment and lifting anything requires caution and an acceptance of a reduced load bearing capacity. I am grateful that my back problem is only temporary and that I don’t face a life of physical impairment.

So why does Asperger’s – a lifelong condition – not occur for me as a disability? I think it’s because I have nothing with which to compare it. The adaptations I make to accommodate Aspergers are now merely my way of being, by any definition I am highly functioning – perhaps more so than many “normal” people. I actually have a good life, I accept that I may function differently but who’s to say that there’s anything wrong with being different? Understanding how I work I can avoid sensory overload, I can use electronic media for necessary social interaction and I can organise my routines to support me. If society will support me in living the life that works for me then there is no reason for me to feel I have a disability and if I should ever feel disabled it is is not a reflection on me but on society.

Society has a duty to people with disabilities. Many disabilities can be compensated for by social provision. Struggling around with my back I have become aware how poorly we accommodate people with disabilities. Even where a building has disabled access using it can be a rigmarole and often requires prior notification, the same is true of travel. We cannot claim to not be discriminating against people with disabilities until they have the same facility to board a train or plane or visit a restaurant or theatre on a sudden whim, as the rest of us. It is true that not all cinemas can provide for people with Sensory Processing Disorder at every screen at every showing, but there should be sufficient provision to allow people with SPDs a degree of flexibility in their cinema visits. Provision of access to entertainment to people with disabilities should not cost them extra nor open them to embarrassment. For some disabled people there will always be a need to be accompanied by a carer this should not be allowed to prevent them from enjoying social access and some accommodation of additional cost should be made perhaps by allowing a reduced price “carers ticket” to be purchased along with that of the disabled person. A society wherein a person is excluded from participation because of disability is – I believe – a disabled society.


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Pingback by Disability…A Evolving Definition | Lara: On the Weigh Down

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