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  • Writer's pictureKaitlyn Kilimnik

Struggles of Ableism

In a utopia, no one is discriminated against and everyone gets along with each other; but in reality, it’s the polar opposite. Many individuals struggle with disabilities like autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and must deal with those who discriminate against them and make them feel like an outsider. ASD is a condition that impacts an individual’s communication and behavioral skills. It can be diagnosed through a wide range of symptoms or signs and can vary from minor problems to a disability that requires full-time care. Every individual with ASD is different, although almost all deal with the issue of ableists.

First, beginning with the basic definition of ableism, it is the discrimination or/and social prejudice against individuals with disabilities (physical & mental) based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. Ableism is similar to how racism and sexism classifies an entire group of people as “less than,” causing harmful stereotypes, misconceptions, and generalization. Ableism can take on numerous forms, although not all are presented on a daily basis. Some examples include: segregating individuals from groups or “normal” activities due to disabilities, mockery, and refusing to be accommodable. Some examples of what people think are not ableist but actually are include: building without braille on signs or elevator buttons and failing to incorporate accessibility into building design structures. Ableism is much more common than one may believe, as almost every single person that struggles with their own disability must struggle with ableism on top of their disability. More examples of how people with disabilities struggle on a daily basis with ableism include: framing disabilities as tragic or inspirational in media sources, casting non-disabled people for disabled character roles, using an accessible bathroom stall when others are free or pretending to have an injury or disability, asking invasive questions, and speaking down as if talking to a child.

Some may believe that, depending on the person's disability, it may cause different forms of ableism. Realistically, it does not matter as ableists believe that anyone slightly different from themselves are “lesser than.” Thus, autistic individuals will struggle with the same things that every other person with a disability does. Most of these individuals struggle on the daily, hearing comments such as, “Are you off your meds?” “I don’t even think of you as disabled,” “You’re acting so bi-polar today,” and more along those lines. Everyday, these individuals are forced to power through and deal with these unnecessary comments and actions. Instead of trying to normalize ableism, teach the youth to respect and treat others the same way they would want to be treated, and to also give patients to those with disabilities. Focusing on people's needs and being an attentive listener as well as never accusing a person for faking their disability can lessen the impacts of ableism.

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