I had a very interesting discussion today with my classmates. One of them mentioned she wants to be a speech therapist… And proceed to complain that our Deaf teacher, who taught us the class called Deaf culture, is really biased.
"Like, she acts like we are some evil beings! It’s not fair, not all speech therapists are like she describes…"
"Well, it’s because she has only bad experience, it’s understandable," I said.
"But that was in the past! It’s not like it anymore, situation has improved!"
I looked at her like she had lost her mind. “Of course it’s still like that! I have met too many people who were exactly like she described… The situation maybe improved, but not that much. More than half of professionals I met treated me like shit.”
Of course, she didn’t believe me. It was like I didn’t speak at all.
If only it was one case… But I got this attitude from too many people. When I mention some situation I was in or the way some people treated me, they don’t believe me. They are surprised. They say things like: “Surely, you are mistaken…”
They don’t want to believe it.
And I want to shout, you are the problem. I lived through all this shit and you have no clue what it’s like, but when I talk about it, you still think you know better than I do.
I have met too many people in special need education field, or generally people in fields that are supposed to help us… who have this attitude.
I am starting to hate them, Hate people who are supposed to be helping us… Because they don’t listen. They don’t want to hear my opinion, they don’t see me as a person.
And I think that’s the problem.
You see, ordinary people with no education in these things, they treat me like a human being. They are often more cautious, more ignorant or they don’t know how to react to my presence, but they listen. When I explain something to them, they take it to heart.
But people in helping fields? Too often, they don’t see me as a human being. They see me like a problem that needs to be solved. Like a little kid without an opinion and mind of her own. Like a helpless animal that needs to be protected.
Too often I get an attitude: “Well, I worked with disabled people all my life, I know better what they need than disabled people themselves!”
I don’t trust their reasons. When someone says that he/she wants to work with disabled people, I don’t admire them. I think: And why? Are you really that good person, or you just want to feel good about yourself?
And I bet you want to shout: “But not all people are like that! You shouldn’t generalize!”
That’s true. But I will generalize. Because when I say “only some people it”, everyone will think they are those people. “Oh sure, some people, but not me…”
If you work with disabled people, I want you to look into your heart and ask yourself…
When was the last time you asked a disabled person for an opinion? When was the last time you asked them if they want help and how the help should look like? When was the last time you read a book about disability written by someone who was disabled? When was your last lecture given by someone with personal experience?
Did you listen?
Face it, no matter how many books you read, how many lectures you attend, you will never understand what it’s truly like. So try to listen. It’s the only way.
I get this from my mom whenever I mention what a big problem abuse and neglect are in nursing homes, mental hospitals, group homes and other residential institutions. She’s a retired nurse, and worked for a little while in a psychiatric ward, so…