Jennifer stepping in here. Linda knows me as Jenny or more commonly by my nickname, Goose, but that’s a story for another post. I’m the silent partner here, the behind the scenes “quiet” one, the “bad influence” (if you ask her mother ) and right now…. I am peeved.
When I spoke to Linda this morning and told her I was taking over the blog for this topic, her reply was, “Oh no. You have a tongue like a whip!”
Well when it comes to stigma, yes I do! I promised her I’d behave. If I was over on my website… not so much.
Newsflash folks: Linda. Is. Not. Retarded.
I stumbled on a blog on Birth Injury News while spreading the word about The Power Project (that’s the name of our little blog here, we’d appreciate you spreading the word too). It was about a young lady who is being discriminated against because of her cerebral palsy. She is being labeled retarded by Child Protective Services, and CPS is threatening to remove her children from her and her husband due to their assumptions of her mental capability. Frankly, that pisses me off. She has cerebral palsy–she is not mentally retarded!
That post…. was personal for me.
I have witnessed people look at Linda like she is stupid. I have heard people slow down their speech when they talk to her as if she is a two year old. She has a speech impediment due to her CP–that does not make her slow or stupid!
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.~Proverbs 18:2
When I first met Linda in 1989 I had no formal introduction. I had no idea she had cerebral palsy. She looked at me and said whatever it was she said and my first thought was, “Make direct eye-contact, she could be deaf.” That was an innocent and natural first reaction for that is how she sounded to me, like she’d been deaf since birth. I have no clue when I learned about her CP but never assumed she was retarded.
Linda once told me a story about a man in a grocery store who looked at her and said “are you stupid or something?” In true Linda style she looked him right in the eye and said “No, are you?” If only everyone had the self-confidence to do that.
Stigmas like this have GOT to end. Ignorance and fear are what causes them to perpetuate. I see it all the time with my Pure-O, that’s a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that manifests in pure mental obsessions. I believe that it is the fear of asking questions that causes assumptions towards those who are different. I have yet to meet someone with a disability unwilling to explain, if asked, what afflicts them. When did we stop teaching children, or ourselves, how to interact with others with compassion?
Due to things I have experienced in my life I am an advocate for empathy and empathy is not easy to be willing to share. You have to reach into yourself and find a similar hurt or hang-up and be willing to be vulnerable.
Help us stop stigma wherever you can. Speak up and out when you see it being spread and help me keep from having to pull out the Angry Goose posts.