Reflections

For the Disabled People Struggling to be Inclusive of the Abled people in Your Life: You’re Not Alone

No one plans for this to befall their friends or family, but now that ableds are in your life, you suddenly become aware that they are, in fact, actual people. So what do you do now? This has thrown off all of your plans! For your life, for theirs—what is to become of your relationship? Well first, know that you are not alone. Other people, like me, have gone through it before you and are oh-so-caring enough to take you through this. Here are some of the tips to get you through the rough days.

  1. You are not alone.

Again, you aren’t the only person going through this. There are scores of only mildly patronizing allies who will “All Lives Matter” you and your loved ones into a cuddled-by-puppies bliss. It doesn’t even matter if your income, race, gender, sexual orientation affects your ability to acquire institutional support for this difficulty, they will treat you exactly the same.

  1. Use Person-first language.

If you noticed in the above tip, I used the word “difficulty” instead of “problem.” Well, language matters here. Instead of using words like “woman”, use “person with baby maker”; instead of “man”, use “person who thinks 2 minutes is actually long enough.” Make sure that when their identity comes into the equation, it is affirmed that they are a person first.

  1. It doesn’t matter if it’s last-minute, just make sure they’re thrown into the mix!

So what if your last minute offer of inclusion doesn’t give them adequate time to make arrangements to attend or extend the offer to others within their community! They’ll just be happy you invited them at all. You are the hero here, and if you didn’t think of it (and hadn’t since the planning part of this endeavor), no one else was going to.

  1. There’s a lot going on under the surface, so be prepared if it happens to boil over.

Remember, this is a hard time for them as well. It wasn’t racism, ableism, misogyny and ignorance that caused them to vote for the man who wishes to take away your healthcare and leave you to wither away, it was economic anxiety. There is always a deeper reason.

  1. Make it known that they are seen and loved: touch and be touched by them.

Remember, whether its someone you love or someone who’s a complete stranger and just wants to get on with their, everyone has a story. Make sure you ask them deeply probing and personal questions in a public place so that even other people in the disability community can have a teachable moment. Don’t be deterred if they become angry or bristled: remember number 4, there’s much going on under the surface. Just make sure to pat them on the head like an affable pet, show them they are loved. Don’t worry, you won’t get in trouble for doing that, consent is just for sex!

I really hope that these tips have helped you! In fact, I know they will, because if I can do it anyone can. (#Blessed, am I right?) If you want to share your own tips, share this post along with your own advice.

*all gifs from giphy.com

3 comments

  1. Bwahaha. Pitch perfect, as usual, Imani. Especially #3. I had a rabbi once who sent out a mass-invite to a ski trip. I was like, “Dude I can’t keep 2 feet on the ground without falling, and you wanna invite me on a ski trip? Yeah… thanks Mendel. Good one.” LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

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