Friday, September 18, 2015

Quick Ableism Story...

Sometimes I see just how entrenched ableism is in society and it actually hurts no matter how used to it I get.

I was in a group chat once with some friends and the administrator of a group I was a member of. We were trying to sort out a problem in there with another member (which is a story for another time). At one point in the chat, the administrator referred to someone else in the group (but not the chat) as a "fuck-up" because he had mental health issues and an Asperger's diagnosis.

Bad idea.

When I came out immediately as also having Asperger's, he backpedaled so quickly that it astounded me. This was a man almost twice my age trying to save face because he'd made an erroneous assumption about disabled and mentally ill people. He didn't know how to handle the fact that not only did I reply politely but I also offered advice and linked him to this blog. I think he was surprised that I had the same diagnosis as this kid and yet had a Master's degree and was living a seemingly productive life.

I still think about this a lot because it's apparent that we deem people's worth based on how much they can contribute to society or exist "normally," and that's a really harmful attitude to have. I don't think he realized how much that comment hurt me and how angry it made me because I handled it calmly, but I raged internally and my friends knew it (and saw me ranting in all caps in another chat we were in about it). It's really, really painful to be dismissed by someone just because of your mental health and your disability.

And autism is a spectrum, too. One autistic person is one autistic person. Categorizing us as all being one way? If you do that, that makes you part of the problem.