Happy October! Happy Disability Awareness Month!
Yes that's right one of the very best months of the year is also Disability Awareness Month. You guys, I'm so excited, I have some great stuff planned for this month along the lines of guest posts and giveaways (follow me on instagram at thislittlemiggy to learn more about those). I will still be doing regular content as well (I may or may not have our final bathroom renovation reveal coming up) but I'm very excited to be talking all things disability with you all month long. But first....
Why I care so much about disability awareness and disability rights
In the weeks after Lamp was born a relief had settled over me. Things were going to be fine. I had already experienced that magical alchemy of fear changing to love and I no longer worried about the fate of our little family.
If there was any fear that lingered, it was a general fear about society and how my daughter would be welcomed into the world. Then again in the weeks and months since Lamp's birth that fear had been calmed more than once as family, friends and strangers embraced her with loving eyes and kind words. She had the sweetest disposition and everywhere we went people were always telling us how cute she was. My baby Lamp stole everyone's heart. Things were going to be fine. Not always. But on the whole, things would be fine. I was sure of it.
And then... one morning we were driving and I saw a woman in a wheelchair on the side of the road with a missing limb. She looked homeless; dirty and hardened by life. And in my head I thought, Oh. She's not cute. At all.
It was like cold water being thrown in my face: Right. One day my daughter would not be "cute" either. This advantage of being cute and of falling under society's collective concern as both a cripple and a child would disappear. Of course there was an outpouring of love for her now. But what about later? What about when Lamp needs an education, a job, a home? Society was not going to be so willing to help.
And I knew this because I am society. It wasn't that long ago that I was completely unaware and unconcerned with the plight of disabled people. There was the "before I had a disabled child" me and the "after I had a disabled child" me. Before Me and After Me. And Before Me knows what prejudice against the disabled looks like. And it might surprise you to know it doesn't look like prejudice at all.
Truthfully, Before Me didn't really think about disabled people very much but when I did I felt sorry for them. I assumed their lives were much harder, sadder, and less fulfilling than mine. I assumed that having a child with a disability was burdensome. Before Me thought it was nice if buildings were handicapped accessible, but not absolutely necessary. Before Me thought I was being a good Christian if I acknowledged and included a person with a disability in some way, but didn't think it was necessary to go so far as to actually build a real friendship with a disabled person.
One of the main reasons I have continued to write about our journey and the journey of others over the years was to convince Before Me and all the other Before Mes in the world how wrong I was.
I never meant to become so passionate about disability rights. I was just a blogger who had an idea to share some stories, but those stories have opened my eyes to the importance of disability education and advocacy time and time and time again. Now I see the need for it everywhere. Mainly I see it because it seems the rest of the world doesn't see it.
I see it when the world largely ignores the heinous killing of 19 disabled people in Japan earlier this year. In a summer of heinous hate crimes that rallied support around the world, this one was barely mentioned and never even called a hate crime at all.
I see it when people re-elect a man to office in England who compares disabled children to deformed lambs and says they should be put down because they "cost too much money."
I see it when the Paralympics barely receives 66 hours of TV coverage compared to the 6,755 hours of Olympic coverage... even when Paralympians are breaking Olympic records.
Of course I also see it up close and personal sometimes. I see it in the confused look of children at playgrounds because they never see images of children like my daughter in the world around them. I see it in the restaurant that escorts us around back to use the "trash ramp" to access their place of business, and then go and dig up their portable ramp with an apology so we can use the front door on the way out.
I see the need for disability awareness everywhere.
I see the need for a world that includes my daughter in their advertising, in their architecture, in their education systems and in their workforce. You cannot live and be a productive member of society with real opportunity and real equality--unless
This month, it is my hope that we all learn to see a little better.
Thank you so much for your love and support over the years. If you're a long-time reader and supporter of TLM, would you do me a favor and hop on over to FB and like my This Little Miggy page? I'd really appreciate it! And as stated above feel free to follow me on Instagram. Lastly, I thought it would be great to put a little Q+A together this month if you're interested--if you have any questions about our family, Lamp, or a general question about disability, I'd love the chance to have a dialogue about it! Feel free to leave your question in the comments below, on IG or you can email me at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com. My readers have always been super kind and thoughtful, so it probably doesn't need to be said that I will delete any comments or questions that are unkind or malicious in nature. This is different than asking a question that may be uncomfortable--I'm OK with uncomfortable questions especially when asked with a sincere desire to learn and understand. Thanks!