It’s common sense that you should never judge a book by its cover, but people forget this when they see something or someone that doesn’t seem to fit with what is considered normal.
People with intellectual and physical disabilities are often on the receiving end of judgmental or discriminatory glares, especially if they visibly appear different. Either that, or they or their caretakers or parents are met with ignorant comments. Some come from a genuine place of being unaware of the right things to say, while others are just because someone wanted to feel good about themselves for being nice to someone disabled.
Ron Bishop, communication professor at Drexel and the former faculty advisor of The Triangle, writes in his book “Holding Up the Sky Together” about his intellectually and physically disabled son, Neil. He shares many experiences related to the challenges that come with disability.
Bishop’s objective in writing this book is to “inform, provoke discussion, and challenge our society’s narratives about folks with challenges like Neil,” he wrote.
In the book, Bishop argues that mainstream media has had a role in misinforming people about those with intellectual disabilities. From the messages people have been sent through the portrayals of the very few intellectually disabled characters in movies and shows, people can generally assume that those who are disabled are barely human, needing to rely on others for help constantly — a sad soul that should have been born “normal.”
But this is far from the truth. While it is challenging to live with a disability, nobody who is disabled should be thought of as a burden or unhappy because of their condition.
His book provides a deep and insightful journey through what it’s like to be a parent of a disabled child. It opened my eyes to the struggles and emotions associated with this role. It is a necessary read for anybody who would like to know what people with intellectual disabilities go through, or for anyone who is simply ignorant and insensitive to these issues.
I have never understood peoples’ needs to judge someone who is disabled. Obviously, their disability makes them stand out, and nobody should ignore the fact that they are disabled because that would be invalidating them. However, nobody should look down on others because they are different. Intellectually and physically disabled individuals are just as human as anybody else on Earth. They face enough challenges in their day-to-day lives that come with having a disability, so they definitely should not have to live with being ostracized and picked out of the crowd.
Simply put: don’t judge others, and treat everyone as a human being, no matter their disability, background, race, gender, etc. We’re all in the same boat, but those with disabilities face challenges every day that are bigger than I can ever imagine. Make life easier for everybody by being a decent human being who can empathize and be aware of these challenges.