by Christopher Hayes, Age 15
Over the last few decades disability rights has come a very long way. Recently though, the ongoing debate about 'nametags' has been centred on what people with disabilities should be called. This debate has never held much merit in my mind because in my opinion it is essential for people with disabilities to be able to allow people to know that they've got one or absolutely nothing can be done for them.
For instance, a person's home is burning down, the fire people arrive, pick Mr. Blank up and put him on the ground outside his house, his wheelchair is destroyed, he says, "I am not disabled, nor am I impaired in anyway however will need some assistance for reasons, so could you please drop me off at the local hospital" the fire chief replies "Sorry sir, Bell Lane has just gone up in flames, the hospital is two blocks down there it shouldn't take long to walk down there, bye!"
I don't think Mr. Blank would have been left there if he had simply said that he was disabled. I don't understand why some people have a phobia of being 'labelled' disabled, I've got ADHD and some other neurological disabilities too and I don't using them if I have to. I know one thing though, I would not want to trade my ADHD for an sugared explanation of ADHD that would take six pages to write down.
Why not say it straight? There's no reason not too, I do sometimes try to not greet people with "Hello! My name's Chris Hayes, I'm 15, I've got ADHD, Aspergers, and a Yorkshire Terrier called Gemma!" I can admit to not wanting to tell every stranger I bump into that I have a disability that the press associates with hypoactive kids that set fire to buildings and threatening to kill their parents. (Which cannot be blamed on Ritalin.) But if I like someone I meet, maybe even only for a few hours, if that, I don't mind telling them at all.
At the end of the day the word 'disability' is there for a reason. Just like the word intelligent, condition, great, ill, nice, impairment, polite, all these words have reasons for being in the English language. If you can't walk so what if that's called disabled? I you can't concentrate so what if you've got a disability called ADHD? If you can't see, hear, write, spell, so what if people call them disabilities too? The word 'disability' is an extremely helpful word, it's the disability that sometimes isn't so helpful.
I myself have been brought up around disabled people, both my parents are wheelchairs users. I often would go to disability meetings while I was growing up. I know a disabled person whether physical, or neurological, is just the same as anyone else other than their disability and really that's what counts.
Anyway, I keep trying to wrap this up. The word 'disability' can be used, or others like to sugar coat it so it sounds more a list of qualities that the person has, which is silly because there's a time and a place for both. Anyway it should be describing a disability and that's nothing the be ashamed of, nor is it something to re-word because you think your disability is 'better' that someone else's, we're all in this together, we all have strengths and weaknesses and that's nothing to fight about.
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