• Leslie Kate Thornton

13 Reasons Why You Need to Understand

1. Labels belong on produce, not people. My label is not my disability. I am a human being. Not part or a fraction of, but a whole human being. Yes, my disability is a part of me but it’s not the whole me.

2. Don’t tell me what I can do. I can do much more than you think. Never underestimate me! This brain is very impressive, I will attempt to do something challenging. If I can’t, I’ll think of another way to do it…. I promise!

3. People who have speech impairments have something to say. I love the way people assume I don’t have anything to say, just because of my disability. Not all people who have speech impairments have hearing impairments. Be careful what you say.

4. People who are physically disabled are not always intellectually disabled. Their brains function just like yours (and by the way, people with intellectual disabilities function just like you too). Please don’t assume otherwise. You might miss out on a great opportunity.

5. It’s about time we stopped viewing disabilities as shameful. People with disabilities can have a full and productive life. Please don’t view us as a burden on society. If you took the time to think, our daily lives aren’t that different. We might have something in common.

6. When I say people with disabilities are humans, I mean it. This includes feelings. We have the same feelings that you do. Don’t assume people don’t have feelings on a subject because “They wouldn’t understand”. You’d be surprised what we understand. At the end of the day, we have the same feelings as you. Please don’t undermine them.

7. One misconception people have about me is everything is handed to me. In a world that wasn’t designed for you, you work for it or do without. Doing without isn’t an option so you better “make it work”. If you want to help, better support and resources are needed.

8. If you’re going to love me then do so. You can’t love someone with a disability but not the disability itself. I’m sorry that’s not how it works. If you love someone, you love them with all their baggage. My disability makes me who I am. Nothing will change that.

9. Don’t feel sympathy for me! If you’re going to have anything for me, have empathy. If you can’t empathize then just let me do my thing. In all reality, I feel sorry for people who feel sympathy for me. They are missing so much.

10. Don’t make me your charity case. If you are going to help me, do it for the sake of helping me. I am not here to make you feel better about yourself. People shouldn’t make headlines because they helped a peer with a disability.

11. People with disabilities deserve equal opportunities in society. When I say society, I mean all aspect of it. It’s not that hard. We already established I am human just like you are. Why do I not have equal rights and the opportunities you have? People keep other people down because they’re afraid. What is there to be afraid of? Nothing...

12. “Special programs for special people” aren’t inclusion. It’s the exact opposite. Inviting a friend with a disability to a community event is inclusion. See the difference? The difference is inclusion starts with you…

13. I hope after all this you have a better understanding of why I “whine and gripe”. Maybe you’ll realize this is my life. When I start “whining”, please understand people with disabilities have the same value as you.


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