Jun. 13th, 2011

marydell: My hand holding a medusa head sculpture (by me) that's missing its snakes (Default)
A thought inspired by conversation on someone else's blog today - but it's a conversation I see come up over and over.

A kid like Charlie, in the US and in some other countries, can easly be slotted into the "not really disabled" social category, because his disability doesn't limit him very much.

This is because he is LEGALLY in the "actually yes really disabled" category, which means he has civil rights protection. And he's medically in the disabled category, which means insurance (or the school district) has to pay for his OT and PT. Therefore if he wants to play sports on a team at a publically-funded school? They will have to let him. Without civil rights protection, the coaches can put him on the bench, permanently. Without OT or PT to develop skills analogous to the two-handed kids, he might not enjoy sports in the first place.

Kids with dyslexia get extra time to take tests. Kids with ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorders don't get expelled from school for behavioral problems--as long as it's diagnosed and they are put in that protected category and given legally-mandated supports. There's a long (long long) way to go for proper inclusion and access for everybody, but the law mandates that all kids can participate in school and the community. When I was a kid it wasn't like that, and plenty of families had a kid who just stayed home all day, or failed and failed and failed until they dropped out, or went off the rails trying to self-medicate.

The reason our mildly disabled kids can grow up feeling "not disabled" in this country now is because of lawmaking, lobbying, hard work and activism, much of it by their fellow disabled people, not because they are actually what society considers normal. I think it's important to remember that.

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