Sunday, December 16, 2007


"They paid me no nevermind," my Grandma used to say when she'd been ignored or taken for granted by someone. That's exactly what I felt yesterday when getting off the plane. There were three of us who needed assistance, me in my wheelchair, an elderly woman for whom the distance was too much and she needed a airport chair, and a woman with an intellectual disability. When I got off the plane and up to the gate, I waited while two 'assistants' showed to help three people. No biggie, there were only two of us who needed pushing, the other woman had no physical disability.

But then. Then. THEN. They all but forced the woman with an intellectual disability into the wheelchair to be pushed. You could see by her face that she didn't want to be pushed, her face first looked confused, then she struggled for a moment to get up but then ... wham ... trained passivity took over and she sat back in the chair. Now they had only two assistants and three people in chairs.

I bitterly complained that they were going to leave me behind and take the other two ... because I had my own chair - a logic I've never understood. I stated that, um, ONE OF US THREE COULD WALK. They looked at me with horror as if I was had a prejudice against those with intellectual disabilities. I looked at her imploringly, 'Speak up, Speak up" I'd seen the look on her face when forced into the chair ... SPEAK UP.

She didn't. She just smiled at me. The 'mask' was on, there was no way she was coming out over this issue.


Over Compliance.


Those are my issues for next year. Those are the traits in people with disabilities that lead to victimization, vulnerability, violence. Enough.




rickismom said...

This is a very powerfull post, and a needed attitude. So rarely do I see people who deal with those who have intellectual disabilities internalize this message. It is oh so much easier to force complience.

Anonymous said...

Enough! right.....
Well said Dave...

A.J. said...

Ahhh....just what I've been telling my son's teachers at school!

My son has DS. When he digs his heels in and is "stubborn", I secretly gloat because I know that I am raising a kid who can say "no" when asked to do something he'd prefer not to do. :o)

Anonymous said...


lilwatchergirl said...

Those are the traits in people with disabilities that lead to victimization, vulnerability, violence.

But what really interests me is where these traits come from - what *exactly* it is about society, and insitutionalized disablism on a grand scale that creates these attitudes in people. We were not born with them. They were born out of us and our interaction with society.

In this story, it seems to me that the violence was done to the woman with learning difficulties *before* she became passive, not the other way around. She didn't cause this to happen to her. Society did.

Lisa b said...

your first post I read was about how damagin this passivity is. I agree absolutely.