There are many stereotypes and ignorant assumptions that I’ve been subjected to over the years. Some, I guess, can be positive and quite nice to hear. Then there are some which never fail to antagonise and rile me. And because I am genuine disabled person, and therefore it is the only thing I’m allowed to talk about, I thought I’d go through some of these delightful assumptions.
1. Don’t have a job. You are disabled. Don’t be so greedy, pick one, not both.
This week I was filling in an online questionnaire and was genuinely baffled by this conundrum:
Which selection do I pick? If I correctly identify myself as employed (shh, don’t tell the fundamentalists) then am I being a disabled deviant? Am I going to get dragged back to my house and given a jigsaw puzzle to complete?
2. Don’t have children.
3. Don’t even have sex, or a partner. You’re not going to reproduce anyway, so if you must engage in anything in the boudoir, it must only be of the freaky sordid fetish kind, nothing normal.
Aside from this, the only partner you’re allowed is a carer. Just ask Premier Inn.
Silly Billy! You can’t have a disabled family room! Whose children would you steal? You might scare someone into thinking you have offspring.
4. Take up a hobby. Painting with your toes or something will suffice. Nothing mainstream.
5. Talking of mainstream, step away from the local comprehensive school. No associating with normals. You surely didn’t have an ordinary education did you?
6. Don’t be tempted to step (I mean roll, apologies) into a children’s clothing aisle alone. You’ll confuse the locals.
7. For convenience in conversation with passers-by, you need to acquire your disability in an accident. Usually a car accident or bungee jumping blip will do. Don’t try and claim that you inherited your condition, or were born with a defect or something. It just won’t work.
8. Visually impaired or deaf? Please use a wheelchair to inform people of your disability. Easy peasy.
9. Don’t answer questions for yourself in restaurants or theatres. Gesture impatiently towards your partner (carer), or friend (carer) or sibling (b*tch) to answer for you. It’ll save the awkward confusion when ‘Hi I’m Denise, how can I help’ is wondering who to address when she asks if you’d like to sit on a chair or remain in your wheelchair.
10. Don’t be tempted to initiate your first sip of drink in a restaurant. It is your drink, indeed, but the waiter might want to adjust your straw a few times to his own specifications before you proceed.
11. Don’t worry if you can’t access certain levels or areas in a high street clothes shop. Charity shops are ALWAYS accessible. Fact. Problem solved.
12. Be willing to disclose your entire personal life, home life, morning routines, maybe even your weekly shopping list, to anyone who asks. It might be handy to rehearse some answers. It would be just rude to ‘prefer not to’ detail how you go to the toilet.
And finally 13. Don’t have a personality. Don’t need one. Just unnecessary. You’ve defined yourself by having a disability.
Good luck with that.
Footnote. Just re-read number 3 and realised my mum reads this blog. My GRAN reads this blog. Help.