Disabled people are people too, they do not lose their human-ness

Something I have never understood is why society always looks down on people with any sort of disability from mainstream society. Their is a huge stigma still attached to a family with a disabled child;

“What did the mother do when pregnant?”,

“What did the family do that they were punished with a disabled child?”

These are things which are fairly common to hear when conversations about birth defects are seen in society.

Sorry to tell you this, baby they were born that way, unless that person was involved in an incident which lead to a head injury, or they were born addicted to crack, heroin or alcohol, it’s most likely simple genetics. There can be environmental factors, and there can be issues with how a person is raised, but most people with any form of mental difference (mental illness, learning disability etc) are born that way to faulty genes.

I work in a residential home for people with such severe learning disabilities that most of them can’t communicate properly.

I get asked regularly;

How do I cope?,

Does it not drive me mad that they can’t speak?,

How do I know what they want?

Why bother doing that sort of job?

Easy, they are still people, with opinion, and preferences, favourite colours, favourite songs, food preferences and and the ability to show me if they do not approve of what I am doing.

I just have to be a bit more patient, a bit more observant, and a little more quick to think than I otherwise would be.

They  love going to the pub on a night out with family and friends, going to the cinema, the theatre, one resident loves musicals, one likes art, another like going for a wander in less humanized areas, and so goes on nature hikes. These are people that society has written off on the whole, and yet they are so much more then their list of illnesses.

Same with mental illness, now in the case of people who know they are ill and refuse to seek treatment I can understand mistrust, however I would mistrust someone who had a heat defect that they knew of and did not seek treatment for. And I am not necessarily talking about medication, I know that their is more than medical help available for those that medication does not help.

Mental illness is something that will touch nearly every person at some point in their life. Whether it be mild stress related illness, or a full blown episode of recurring psychotic schizophrenia. This does not mean that they deserve to be shunned, or talked about in hushed tones.

Mental illness has a huge stigma attached to it, because we wont talk about it. It’s this huge taboo in much the same way that sex is in many cultures – and look where that problem is getting us! Many people do not know any real facts about mental health, and yet will quite happily talk about “that person on the street, who must be (x illness) because of (x behaviour)”.

People would not talk in the same way about someone with a heart defect, why should it be socially acceptable to do so with mental health?

Understandably most people know nothing beyond what the media portray, but lets face it if we let the media tell us how to behave, we would never leave the front door without a hazmat suit and full safety equipment – is it that hard to believe that just maybe their portrayals of mental health might be wrong.

They aren’t all axe wielding murderers, sorry, most people live perfectly average lives, with maybe the odd bit of time of work “for personal reasons” while they have a bad episode. most people with a form of mental health issue, you would never know.

But as soon as they are outed, it’s all;

“Well I never trusted x, I always knew they were a bit wrong!”

“And they let x near the children! what is the world coming too!”

“But does x really x seems so normal“.

And there persons and peoples is the problem. “Normal” what is “normal” I have to ask this, it deviates depending on where you live, what your race is, what your age is, what you gender is, what your sexuality, where you were born, how much money you have, what country you live in, what your religion is, etc.

Now I don’t know about you, but is something that changes depending on all these, and more, factors really all that important.

If all of these factors change what “normal” is, does it even exist, should we use it as a measuring stick for people who are just a tiny bit more different. Their problem being that they were raised slightly differently, or have that one faulty gene?

OR should we collectively get our heads out of our asses and just get over it, stop making it and issue, and deal with the fact that people are not now, and never will be able to conform to “normal”


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