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  • …and that changes everything

    As you know I am someone with a physical disability (moderate visual impairment with weird-looking glasses) and a mental illness (bipolar 1).  I think a physical disability plus a mental illness adds up to more than the sum of its parts.  At least it has in my life.

    • In all my communications with people I start out with negativity right off the bat because of my thick glasses.  In every relationship it’s like I am making the first golf shot from a sand trap!
    • Because of my visual impairment I cannot drive.  I cannot go to people’s houses and force myself on them.  Because of my physical disability and mental illness I’m almost always the needier party in the relationship and as such is the one initiating.  This keeps me from initiating.
    • Because of my mental illness I don’t have the inner strength to shrug off the negativity from and live above my physical disability.
    • Because of my physical disability I’ve been rejected for jobs I was qualified and now have so many gaps in my resume I am unemployable
    • Because of the way I’m treated on account of my disabilities it is impossible for me to believe I have innate worth–there just isn’t any evidence to back it up!  Non-disabled people are often treated better so they find it easier to believe this lie.

    May I ask, how many successful people do you know or have even heard of who have both a physical disability (particularly a visible physical disability) and a mental illness. You hear countless stories of people rising above their physical disabilities and becoming something and you often hear of people with mental illnesses who can function. But have you ever heard of someone with both make anything of their life? I haven’t!



  • Tech Job Interviews Are Basically Hazing

    I recently read one of the most profound Reddit comments I have ever read, in response to someone suggesting the thread poster go into tech. They said tech job interviews are basically hazing. I wish someone would have told me this 20 years ago, it could have saved me a lot of heartbreak. Unlike hazing at Army boot camp which is designed to tear you down temporarily for them to build you up in their own way, job interview hazing is just them taking advantage of you because of the great power asymmetry that exists in the whole ordeal.

    I have a visual impairment physical disability which means I can’t see very well at certain distances and have very thick glasses like Milton from Office Space. People have brought up my visual impairment and told me I couldn’t do the work because of it. I even had a local recruiter tell me I had to make people comfortable with my physical disability because the presence of it caused the room unease. Even disclosing my disability has not made things better, one person after I disclosed my disability just assumed I couldn’t see. They didn’t write back.

    I get it that society is becoming increasingly harsh and hurtful and people far from privilege are the ones who bear the brunt of it. But a lot of what keeps people far from privilege down is failing at the critical junctures such as job interviews which determine whether or not they get to develop to their full potential and contribute to society.



  • Show Values

    Show values permeate our existence to such a degree that it’s easy to start believing they are actually true. Obama comes to mind, persisting to believe in the better angels of our nature even after being given evidence otherwise over and over again. The other side of show values is if you straight up say you don’t believe in one (like the idea that man is basically good) you get shot down really good.

    As an individual with a disability I live at the intersection of show and actual values. Show values say you get the job your merit affords, actual values say you get the job your physical appearance affords. If I had known the only job I could get was a janitor job then why was so much time, treasure, and hope invested in educating me.

    My latest issue involves something I’ve brought up multiple times on this blog. Show values say that a person with a disability will be tolerated by all but the most ignorant of us. Actual values say that for a person with a physical disability every one of their interactions with the abled world is an incursion that must be apologized for. Granted believing this about people is unflattering which is why the show value of tolerance is pointed to. My problem is because I have impaired social skills I need guidance on how to diffuse the “bomb” of my visible physical disability’s presence in a manner that will appease the room.



  • Disability Post

    If there is something visibly different about you (as a disability often produces) it is incumbent upon you to put the room at ease with your difference some how. If you don’t, you will be rejected and ostracized. With Christianity this damage control needs to be done at a deeper level as well. Disability is one of the chinks on the armor of Evangelical Christianity because it’s a combination of the expression of the problem of evil which isn’t easy to ignore and the lack of autonomy and prosperity that gets you reviled in Conservative Christian contexts (just look at the Medicaid work requirement to see how these people think about our right to healthcare).

    If you follow the Evangelical Christian system it’s almost imperative that you objectify folks with disabilities and project your redemptive suffering narratives upon them because the alternative works like an armor-of-God piercing bullet through the faith. In this context Wheaton’s Faith and Disability initiative the way it is makes perfect sense. One of the reasons the younger generations are leaving the faith in droves is more of them have disabilities and mental illnesses and the canned answers coming from Christianity are falling flat.



  • the DIS in disability

    Often the the DIS in disability grows larger as you get older.

    For me it was obvious because by 16 my vision was too bad to drive so I was suddenly different from everyone else.  At 24 when I was too mentally ill to live on my own I was again different than everyone else (back then there was still a lot of stigma around people living at home).  I never found a real job after that largely due to disability based prejudice.  Failing to live on my own the stigma grows with each passing year.

    Adulthood is no picnic to those of us with disabilities because adulthood itself is marked by milestones like having a car, a job, a place, a community that accepts you, etc..  and a lot of us don’t have any or many of these things.  Childhood has its own pitfalls but for a lot of us it was better (except for those who were bullied all the time).



  • Stigma Around Pointing Out the Obvious

    One of the things in the NT world is there is blow back for pointing out the obvious.  For example:

    “Death is nothing to us. When we exist, death is not; and when death exists, we are not. All sensation and consciousness ends with death and therefore in death there is neither pleasure nor pain” – Epicurus

    An after life is an NT thing, people on the spectrum generally only believe in things that have been shown to be true by scientific evidence.  My grandma just died and I’d like to think she is in heaven but you know what, heaven is a fantasy.  That doesn’t mean that people don’t have the capacity to believe it is real.  It’s just that that takes faith which I do not have.  If there is no evidence for something, it’s not true.  The thing is, if I pointed this out to my immediate and extended family who are mostly all Christian, they would have a fit.  I think this is because they know deep down that faith is the only thing keeping their belief in heaven intact.  If they were to let their guard down and lose this faith then they would be back to where I am believing only in things that have been shown to be true by scientific evidence.

    The other thing I wish people would have let me know that I would never get a job above a janitor job because of my visible visual impairment physical disability.  My dad did mention this once in 2002 after me talking to him for a long time but I didn’t take it to heart.  The thing about unwritten rules is NT’s want the world to appear more just than it really is so when someone outs some unwritten rules that show it to be less just, they are not looked kindly upon.  If I would have known I could never get a job because of my thick glasses I would have invested my time and energy elsewhere.  No point in learning programming if you aren’t going to be able to get a job in it due to a disability.



  • Disability… in Slow Motion

    Pretend intelligence is smartphone quality.  The better quality the smart phone the faster frames per second it can record.  So for example you can do super slow motion shots of people jumping off the diving board with the most expensive phones.  Now bring it back to intelligence, the smarter you are the more information you can process in the same amount of time.  So you could say a smart person trusting their “instinct” is processing a huge amount of information on the fly.

    So what does this have to do with disability?  Well, unlike racial prejudice, disability based prejudice doesn’t go down as much as IQ goes up.  I think this is because disability introduces some additional negativity and fries people’s sacred cows on the griddle.  During the process of encountering a person with a disability, intelligent people are unconsciously thinking things like the below.  It’s kind of like a row of balloons being popped in this OK Go Video.

    • I have innate worth.  A person with a disability really puts to the test the idea that everyone has innate worth which deep down most people know is a lie.  But this person is shoving this lie in your face by showing you a test case of someone who, if innate worth were true, you would think would be worth something.  But in acknowledging this individual’s worthlessness you acknowledge that your worth is based on function and nothing more.  But this is not something you appreciate being shoved in your face.
    • I can express myself in any way I choose and still be accepted.  Individuals with disabilities also test the limits of free expression.  What you find is that just like tan skin is tolerated but only if you’re not a minority, disability is only accepted if it is seen as temporary.  So for example if you have a cast on your arm but are expected to heal people will treat you well but if there is something wrong with you they perceive to be permanent then they won’t.  “You do you” only applies to things that aren’t irreversible (for example a funky hairdo).  As an individual with a disability you understand how life giving conformity is and see through the “be yourself” ruse normal people are never required to.
    • I want to bring children into this world.  Almost everyone becomes a temporary antinatalist (someone who thinks procreating is cruel) when they encounter an individual with a disability.  I always thought “I wish you were never born” was communicated through disability based prejudice (as opposed to race based prejudice which is “I wish you’d die”). Disability reminds people that their life, on balance, could contain way more suffering than joy. And why would you bring anyone into this world if that was what was waiting for them? Of course after the encounter with an individual with a disability ends instead of moving towards antinatalism these people project their negativity on that individual. And why not? Cognitive dissonance is experienced as emotional pain by most people.
    • Medical science can fix people good enough to function as good as new in society.  As an individual with a disability I have gotten this one a few times.  On a diet of seeing shiny new smartphones we’ve been brought up on this narrative that science is going to fix everything which is far from the case.  For both my disability and mental illness I’m basically using treatments that were invented in the 90’s.  And I’m the lucky one, for others there are even less treatment or none at all.
    • God can heal people.  People of faith (particularly Charistmatic Christians) do not like encountering individuals with disabilities because they demonstrate God’s inaction in action.  A question mark is an enemy of most people of faith and a question that gets brought up is, “what does God really promise?”.  If nothing, is the faith really worth it?

     

    See a reply at The Realistic Autistic.



  • The Myth of Disability ‘Sob Stories’

    Insightful post on disability:

    But most people with disabilities will not be remembered by history. They are usually living challenging lives with little to show for it: Unemployment rates are disturbingly high, health care costs are often debilitating, and the emotional toll of living with an “aberration” can rend families apart. The only thing that a fidelity to positive stereotypes accomplishes, then, is to absolve society of maintaining commitments to the disabled, like making places more accessible, since it would be ridiculous to aid people who already have a leg up with added perks.