I spent many years as a non-disabled person and people interacted with me as such. They saw me as an independent, regular person and interacted with me as a peer, with respect, and as a very capable person.
Then, at age 26 I acquired a disability, and everything changed. I was the exact same person, but all of a sudden, my interactions with others were different; people had new beliefs about me based only on the disability they saw. These beliefs came from stereotypes we have about people with disabilities. Now, people run to help me and tell me I am so inspiring, which is kind, and positive, but, there’s also an often time not realized, not so positive impact of this.
It’s important to understand how our beliefs influence how we interact with others.
If we believe someone is a capable adult, we respond one way. If we believe they are childlike, we respond another way.
This video, by Ben Drew is a funny look at how people view people with disabilities such as Down syndrome and how those beliefs make us interact with people with disabilities.
It’s always a good time to self-reflect about the beliefs we may have about people with Down syndrome or with developmental disabilities in general.
Here are some questions to reflect on; is there a part of you that does see people with disabilities as:
Children even when they are adults?
- Someone that you feel sorry for?
- Dependent and in need of help?
- Heroes for even getting out of bed in the morning?
And do these beliefs make you interact with people with disabilities like the actors in this video?
People with Down syndrome, or other development disabilities can and do live healthy normal lives, just like you.