I am honored to be able to re-post the following with permission from Painting for Hailey. The blog’s author, Janet Harrold, believes in educating everyone and reminding them that people with disabilities are people just like everyone else. “The more we spread it around, the more it will be heard,” she said.
Just a little reminder
By Janet Harrold
Sometimes words and actions can be hurtful. Being the grandmother of a beautiful little girl who just happens to have C.P., I am reminded everyday how words can be hurtful. More often than not these words are not meant to be offensive, or hurtful, it is simply the lack of understanding.
So I thought I would just subtly remind people to choose their words a bit more carefully. I can’t tell you how many times in a week Hailey comes up in conversation (well, hundreds of times actually, after all I am a proud Grammy). Very often when I happen to see or hear from someone that I haven’t heard from in years or perhaps it just comes up in general conversation that Hailey has C.P.
It never fails, the dreadful words slip off their tongue effortlessly and without much thought “…Oh, I’m so sorry, that must be so difficult. Is this something that she will grow out of?” Or how about this one…”She will never have a good quality of life.” Though I am well aware that her quality of life will be compromised, the reminder is unnecessary, and I chose to focus on challenging her everyday and promoting her independence. These are the kinds of things that will benefit her best. I’ve heard people say that people with C.P. and other disabilities are not normal, and I can’t help but wonder who decides what “normal” is.
As defined in Wikipedia… In behavior, normal refers to a lack of significant deviation from the average. The phrase “not normal” is often applied in a negative sense (asserting that someone or some situation is improper, sick, etc.) Well, Hailey is not improper at all. Actually her actions happen to be more proper than the people who ask these silly questions or make these remarks without thinking them through.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I didn’t do or say similar things before Hailey was born. I had no idea what to say or how to act around others who had a disability. But now I know better, and I want you to know better, too. Always be aware of the impact your words can have on others. Teach your children that it is ok to talk to people who have a disability, otherwise you are not only sending my child the wrong message, but your child as well. I think it is all in the education. It is the process by which society deliberately transmits its accumulated knowledge, skills and values from one generation to another, so please, pass it along.