On the Eve of April 1st

Abelism Awareness Month

On the Eve of April 1st

Welcome to abelism awareness month. Let me refresh some of your disability etiquette. Nobody thinks to treat disabled people as a whole person. They are too busy staring at the wheelchair, the medical device, or the hearing aid. Asking about somebody’s disability directly is quite rude in our community as is blatantly running into a medical device like a woman who ran into my device in yoga class once, nearly dislodging my infusion set. Abelist thinking is not always talked about. If you know a wheelchair person, asking them how they wound up in a wheelchair is just plain rude. Yes, you are curious. Don’t point out disabled people’s stuff.

If you notice any device, keep it to yourself until they open up. If somebody is bloated, not pregnant, don’t ask the “are you pregnant?” question. Make sure they aren’t lactose intolerant or diabetic. Noticing this is just plain rude. Anybody who asks stupid questions deserves no answer. We disabled people would say hey cripple to each other but never “hey retard.” Apparently to you normal people, thinking to use the term “retarded” to describe every disability is plain rude. You do not drop the r-bomb on disabled people, period.

Don’t sit there staring either. Don’t open your mouth and stare if you do not want to look ignorant or downright stupid. Disabled people have been maligned for centuries. In Ancient China, disabled children were exposed after birth. These days we just bully the disabled to death hoping our bullycide does this job fast. Race and gender get discussed more than ableism. This has to change. I will not stand by and watch disabled people get further marginalized on what passes for health care in the United States, and when you have significant income, you have to pay for everything again. We activists are on fire with the desire to imprint on people new ways of treating chronically ill or disabled people.

Chronic illness means that people never feel completely well. Although things like type 1 diabetes can be controlled using insulin, abelism is defined as telling somebody with knee injuries to kneel on the floor and organize something. Well, I haven’t been able to kneel on the floor in like two years because I dislocated my knee cap and fractured my tibia in one day. This happened in Yoga class two years ago. Yoga used to be an effective weapon for my anxiety problems.

Other aspects of abelism awareness include the fact that some people feel they can tell people on meds to stop taking their medication. How else would you think you can sleep at night? I’m only friends with people who take their medication consistently. Don’t use the term spaz to describe somebody with seizures or epilepsy. They try to control their condition but are not always successful. It really does no good to describe oneself as crazy or a spaz, but if a person is using this in a humorous context, be sure they feel comfortable with themselves.

Gimpy is a crude term for somebody with limb injuries. Be careful with what you say, since you don’t know who you are pissing off by not including them in your language. If you have a disability, it may not always be obvious. Disability can creep up on you at any point in your life. It is something that can come on suddenly. Some people get into car accidents, which makes them require the use of a wheelchair. Some people care and notice while other people do not. Having a difference makes people feel weird. Don’t stare at anybody’s disability and don’t point it out.

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Iria Vasquez-Paez

I have a B.A. in creative writing from San Francisco State. Can people please donate? I'm very low-income. I need to start an escape the Ferengi plan. 

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