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Dear White Women

Apr 8, 2020

There’s a lot of consequences out there for people who are fully functional but there are even more consequences for people who have disabilities right now. In today’s conversation, Sara and Misasha bring you an enlightening and timely discourse on ableism, and how just being aware of it isn’t enough anymore.

They’ll also be touching on the current COVID-19 pandemic, and what happens when you have a child with special needs when everyone is expected to stay home and you're not prepared for that.

Get ready to look at the world in a whole new way without making assumptions, while reaching out to offer help.

Show Highlights:

  • Misasha shares her own story of wearing a brace as a teenager, the impact it has had on her life, the spinal fusion surgeries she’s had to endure, and the gratefulness she feels for the ways in which she can now experience movement.
  • Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue or discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities. Ableism often rests on the assumption that people need to be “fixed”, in one form or another.
  • Ableism projects the idea that people with disabilities are somehow “lesser than” others. This is similar to sexism, which projects the idea that women are somehow “lesser than” a man.
  • Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, including those with disabilities.
  • A disabled person’s preference for what they would like to be called should always be honored.
  • Ableism usually derives from non-disabled people with good intentions.
  • The medical model of disability may be at the root of ableism because this is where we first learn about disability. But just because something is different, does not mean it’s bad.
  • From a young age, we are taught to treat people with disabilities with helpful politeness, but this can actually come across as pity that they’re not able to do anything independently and might be one more root cause of ableism.
  • “Learning Difference” is the term that is currently favored over “Learning Disability”.
  • If you slip and say something offensive to a person with a disability, it doesn’t mean you’re an ableist. Even those with disabilities can sometimes make these mistakes!
  • Attitudes, actions, and phrases that might not seem discriminatory, but are harmful to those with disabilities:
    • Announcing someone else’s disability in an introduction
    • Apologizing to the person for their disability
    • Forgetting that disability is also a type of identity
    • Ignoring the disability 
    • Assuming that people with disabilities want to talk about it all the time
    • Insulting their medical equipment
    • Insisting on helping out
  • Many special needs kids rely on schools as more than just a learning experience. As the vast majority of schools in the US have transitioned from the classroom to online schooling, teachers and administrators have struggled with how to offer learning to special needs students.
  • Routine is very important to students, and those differently-abled have all of a sudden found themselves not only without routine but without the services of a behavioralist, speech-language pathologist, counselor, etc.
  • Parents that have weighed in on the situation have offered ideas such as an illustrated storyboard to explain what’s happening; offering access to your stash of food supplies in case kids need specific brands because of allergy needs, consistency needs, or sensory issues; and just asking the parent what their needs are, which may be money or just the opportunity to talk.

Resources / Links:


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Suggested COVID-19 Episodes:

53: COVID-19: Not Exactly Making Things Better on the Immigration Front, Either!

51: Coronavirus: How Sheltering in Place Can Make Us Better Humans