I know there is this like war on words of if a person is disabled or has a disability. It’s more like a war on disability itself where everyone loses. This is on all disabilities but there has some groups that have picked they own side- Deaf people like that instead of has deafness because it’s a culture and Autistic people mostly seem to think the same (but not all do). They use it to empower themselves. But Me thinks everyone is wrong. Both groups are doing the same thing and making the “disability” a separate thing from the person. Why is this bad? Because both ways focus on the differences not the person 2)both ways separate the person from “normal” people. For the most part you don’t say “So my friend black friend Daniel. . .” Or “So my friend with blackness Daniel. . . ” . You say “So my friend Daniel . . .” And if it makes sense to help the person understand the story you may later mention he’s black (or African American if you’re proper). It’s the same with everyone no matter what the difference is. What happens when you separate the “disability” from the person is you get 2 kinds of people- 1) the kind that only sees your differences and 2) the kind that tries to ignore your differences. We all know of the 1st kind who are either nice and “I’m so sorry” or want to lock us all away or worse. But what’s the problem with the 2nd? Well in my life what happens with them is they become so busy ignoring my differences they forget to accommodate for me. It may be forgetting to talk slow or maybe trying to take me somewhere that I can’t handle (or do because my physical differences) or assuming I understand everything going on or acting like my body language is the same as theirs (with my physical differences and neurological differences it almost never is). Both kinds of people are harmful, have no understanding of my challenges, and are impossible to communicate with. I don’t want people to look at me with pity or awe, just basic respect.
So what’s a better way? Drop the label disabled altogether. If it’s important then say the diagnosis. Don’t make it shameful, just a everyday fact. I have nonverbal autism and cerebral palsy. I’m not ashamed of being different, and I’m not some sort of special kind of human. (Saying Autistic adult sometimes make me think of saying Siberian Tiger instead of just Tiger lol.) This makes us all “normal”. Some people have Jewish beliefs, some have blue eyes, some have Chinese ethnicity, and some have Down syndrome.
Why is that important? Because then you can see the person as a whole, which means spending time with them doing everyday stuff while being respectful/mindful of the differences. For example if you have a friend that has Jewish beliefs and you have a BBQ, you make sure (hopefully) there is some kosher food there and tell them of the food options what to expect . You don’t exclude them because of their differences, nor do you make the whole BBQ kosher because of them. Now if you want a friend that has autism to come you make sure there is a safe place for them to go calm down and tell them of what to expect the day to be like. You don’t not eclude them just assuming they don’t want to go, nor do you change the entire BBQ to what you think is autism friendly (which btw since everyone is different there’s not a set standard of autism friendly).
Why is this a better way? Because it makes it normal to integrate all kinds of people together as human. This is true diversity and respect. This is how you show acceptance, by treating us like everyone else. And by that I don’t mean you do the same exact thing for every person. I mean that you show respect for everyone differences no matter what it is. Lots of people would not feel disabled if they felt included. Being different is a normal thing. But society is not made for different kinds of people, and that is what puts the dis in disAbility. By accepting it’s normal and making everything in the community accessible to everyone we can way lower rates of depression in those with differences. And we can help more people live in the community and be more independent and contribute to society, which would give money to communities instead of taking the money away because needed to run institutions. Everyone deserves to be part of a community. Because we are all humans, and have more in common than different.