I see the way people look at my son when they talk to him and he doesn’t reply. It’s like they see him as unworthy, less than and unable to think just because he can’t verbalise words.
I see the way he is treated as somehow to be pitied when I use his wheelchair. He’s not worthy of the investment of a ramp or a suitable place to go to the toilet because he’s somehow beneath the rest of us.
When people realise he can’t hold his own in a conversation, he can’t carry out commands and he very obviously has learning disabilities they ignore him as if he no longer exists.
Apparently if you don’t understand something then the immediate thing to do is no longer talk to you at all.
It isn’t even just strangers who do this. Everyone from medical staff, to educational staff to family can at times be guilty of seeing my son as less than because he can’t read, write or understand at a level they think acceptable.
But what happens when people see children and adults like my son like this? What happens when my son’s access and toilet in needs are not met because he’s considered a financial burden instead of a fellow human being!
What happens when anyone disabled, or different in any way, is considered of less value and importance?
Well for one it shows ignorance of disability.
Many disabled people have university degrees. Just because someone uses a wheelchair doesn’t mean their brain is any less clever than your own.
Even someone like my son with very complex needs is able to do more than many give him credit for.
He may not be able to talk but he still hears what people say about him and even if the words are not understood your attitude tells him plenty that he does understand.
Secondly it shows contempt.
Any one of us could be disabled at any time. Not providing basic things like ramps of hoists or toilets with adult size benches shows how little people like my son are even thought about never mind catered for.
When restaurants can’t even have tables that wheelchair users can access from their chair and society thinks this is ok we are accepting that discrimination and abuse is acceptable just because someone is different.
We can’t allow this to continue.
Third you miss out on so much that disabled people can give.
Tonight, my son was admitted to hospital and a mum next to him called him an 'absolute inspiration and miracle worker!’ She adored my son for doing one thing that no specialist, doctor, nurse or teacher had managed to achieve.
My son signed yes for lasagne for his hospital dinner and the child in the next door bed shouted out for the first time in his three week stay ‘can I have some too please’ because Isaac was so excited for his dinner.
My son can’t talk, is epileptic and has a progressive genetic condition as well as having severe autism but his excitement at the idea of dinner encouraged another sick child to eat for the first time in almost a month.
Every disabled person has something to offer because every person in the world has something to offer.
Value should never be determined by such things has whether a person can walk unaided or how well that can hold a conversation. There is never an excuse to see anyone as less than or of lower worth.
We need to start automatically making accessible buildings as standard, having loos everyone can use, being more patient if someone learns slower and treating everyone with the same respect regardless.
My son deserves this. Every disabled person deserves this.