Today I am talking about something that has always rubbed me the wrong way; the idea that we need to “end” diagnoses and that we are in an “epidemic”. Whenever I see things suggesting that we need to end an epidemic related to disabilities, it makes my stomach turn. Last week a video to this effect made the rounds on social media and it was being discussed on many of the pages of disability advocates that I follow. (It looks like the video has since been taken down).
Disability rights are huge in my house. We do not have an autism diagnosis, but there are many other diagnoses.
One of my favourite Autism advocates is Kaylene George of Autistic Mamma. She wrote a brilliant piece called No, We Do Not Want To #EndAutismNow Thank-You Very Much. It was like she new exactly what I have always thought but was too afraid to publish!
When a person refers to “putting an end to”or that we are having an “epidemic” of something, those words can cause very distinctive imagery to form into one’s brain. People with good intentions can cause a snow ball of bad reactions. The words that were uttered in that video made me think of propaganda that I read about in history books by the Nazis regarding Jews before World War II.
I believe the intention was innocent, but it could alter a person’s opinion if they were uneducated on the matter; the hate comments against people with disabilities that were left on the Facebook post were awful!
A person could easily walk away from that video and decide to end the epidemic of autism by erasing everyone with autism from this world. (Just like Hitler wanted to erase the Jews).
That is why I do not like the word Epidemic or End linked to disabilities. People with disabilities matter; I matter. Life without my disability would be easier for sure, but there would always be something else to deal with, people are only “perfect” in the movies.
Do I think there is an Epidemic going on with disabilities? No.
I think people are forgetting that disabilities have been around for a long time. It’s been documented that Royal families had conditions due to inbreeding, and there’s references to disabilities in the Bible. People are forgetting that there have been four major changes to society that have impacted the Disabled community.
- Not Hidden – People with disabilities were put into institutions or hidden away from society for generations. Some babies were murdered at birth if they had a disability or even experimented on. Hundreds of advocates (before me) have changed this standard.
- Mortality Rate Is Going Up – People are living longer thanks to life saving medical interventions. This also means infants and children under the age of 5 are surviving to adulthood, and that would not have been possible 100-200 years ago. Also families are choosing not to abort babies in utero that have a disability.
- Diagnoses -Diagnoses have gone up because as a society we are more educated about disabilities. As our society becomes more educated, diagnostic tools have improved (even from when I was first diagnosed 30 years ago). Parents now can Google concerns and instantly get articles on different disabilities then mention it to their doctors.
- Early Intervention – Early intervention has helped many children. It has also resulted in campaigns to educate caregivers on the different tools available for therapy. Locally there are also free clinics with physiotherapy, occupational, and speech therapy to address any concerns that parents may have about their children’s health issues. If you have a concern, you can easily get it checked out instead of having it be brushed off as “just a kid thing.”
Hate speech is real; period. It was real when I was bullied as a child and it is still real today. The difference is it’s our job to stop it. It’s our job to advocate for disability rights and to pave the way for the next generation.
You can start today by joining the movement to #EndAblesimNow.