Because I’m involved in the disability community on social media, I’ve learned a lot about language and other disabled people’s preferences.
Common topics of discussion include both ableism and internalized ableism. Both of these “-isms” are extremely important to address within the disability community. Ableism refers to discrimination or prejudice against disabled people by the general public. Internalized ableism is when people with disabilities internalize these prejudices and direct them toward themselves or other people with disabilities.
I have noticed an uptick in people with disabilities addressing their own internalized ableism. They are quick to tear themselves apart for using the wrong words to describe themselves and their experiences.
I believe it’s extremely important to address the way we speak to ourselves, and to unlearn certain habits and thought processes so that we are more equipped to educate others about how to speak to us. However, I believe this can also harm our well-being if it becomes the main focus of every post.
Let me explain.
We are already hard on ourselves about almost everything we do. Adding reminders to each post about internalized ableism can feel like another overwhelming factor that we have to deal with. At least, that’s how I perceive it.
I probably have a different perspective on internalized ableism than most, but I don’t believe some of the more popular influencers speak for everyone.
What we need to keep in mind is that each of us deals with chronic illness and disability differently. We each have a different sense of humor and a different level of tolerance.
I’m also considering what my priorities are. I am more focused on whether a building has a ramp and an accessible bathroom, which determines whether I can enter. I also want people to stop making assumptions about me just because I use a wheelchair.
We all have our own passion projects and issues we want to bring attention to. I think it’s beautiful that people want to address the way we speak to ourselves. That’s extremely important! I just believe there can be different approaches to this topic and how we choose to bring attention to it.
Internalized ableism is a problem, no doubt. I just hope that others can ease up on themselves a bit and realize that they are doing the best they can.
Friedreich’s Ataxia News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Friedreich’s Ataxia News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Friedreich’s ataxia.
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