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Midterm— Fuel for thought: my road trip across disability studies

mwernick's picture

Hello everyone!

Here is the link to my midterm essay. Hope you enjoy it! Looking forward to hearing thoughts :)


Smawad's picture

Maya, I enjoyed reading your essay, and I loved the way you referred to it as a "road trip." 

Acknowledging when we're wrong isn't always an easy thing to do, but it definitely is the only way to get back on the right track. If we never admit our mistakes, we won't have the courage to ask for guidance. While reading your paper, I looked back at what I was taught about disability as a child. Growing up in a developing, conservative country, society always taught me to treat people with disabilities with extra respect, and be very careful about bringing up anything that hints to their disability. As a child, when I would meet or run into a disabled person, everyone around me would get tense and act extra "careful." The amount of times I heard: "That poor child," or "Thank God our children are healthy," is countless. As far as society knew, that was the "right" or "normal" response. Looking back at it, I feel ashamed and disgusted that at some point I, too, thought that was the "right" way to respond and think about disabilities. Prior to this course, I never had the chance to learn about Disability Studies in order to realize how ableist our societies can be. 

Maya, you also make a great point about learning from those most impacted and following their lead, because we live in ableist societies that tend to lead us in an ableist direction, thinking that they're leading us towards a more accessible and just society.  Meanwhile, following the lead of those most impacted will certainly steer us in the right direction. 

Sarina's picture

I also really enjoyed reading about your journey with disability studies and the way you framed it as a road trip! I think you brought up many really interesting questions throughout your reflection. You also got me thinking about my experiences with disabled individuals in my life as a child and the way my perceptions of disability have changed and grown more complex as I have gotten older. I also think it was interesting how you brought up the topic of language in your essay in regards to Sophia and the contrasts between people-first language versus your friend Shaina wanting to be called autistic. In the documentary on Camp Jened, I remember one of the counselors telling someone to remember that she was talking to the person who was non-verbal, not about the person. It must feel so dehumanizing when others constantly don't acknowledge your presence and don't recognize that you have your own thoughts and opinions. I also think you brought up a really interesting point about our socially constructed ideas of professionalism and how we are taught that certain behaviors are not acceptable at young ages. Not only can these ideas be harmful to children in school who simply want to express themselves, but they can also be harmful to disabled people in the workplace who are forced to conform to these standards, potentially at the cost of their health and wellbeing. I really appreciated your insight into your experiences, and I look forward to talking about the questions you raised in class!