HomeadvocacyHow to Cope With Stigma

It’s hard enough dealing with only one stigma at a time, but when they rear their ugly heads, they usually come in gangs. Although it takes more than one person to eradicate all of these nasty preconceptions, we can at least start with working on how we handle being the target. The following pointers help make dealing with them a little easier.
Although I wrote this with the learning disability community in mind, these methods work for pretty much any group who’s dealt with these issues at one time or another.
Educate Yourself
Study up on your or your children’s’ learning disabilities. What are the strengths which balance the weaknesses? How does the disability work? Are there other effects?
As you learn more, you’ll be able to better take advantage of the strengths, while minimizing the weaknesses.

Like this cat waiting for its supper, we must have
patience enough to allow our positive actions to take
root. People are people, and at our core, we’re equal
even if not everyone realizes that yet.
By A. Davey from Where I Live Now: Pacific Northwest
[CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Have Patience
This one can be especially hard. When you or your loved one is being poorly treated, it’s difficult to stay civil and calmly explain what’s going on.

Although you can walk away from an online discussion or someone on the street, you can’t do the same with family, school officials or teachers. Keeping your cool will encourage understanding in the other party, at least until you get to the point of not needing to be around them any more.
Also, bear in mind that it’s not your job to change them. The other person must change in their own time. That doesn’t mean that you have to give them the power to control how you feel, act and live.

Support Groups
There are many groups out there full of people who can help solve the same problems you’re facing because they’ve gone through the same types of things. These groups are also helpful because they show that you’re not alone, and offer a chance to share what’s happening in a safe environment.
That sense of belonging goes a long way towards soothing the pain of struggling alone brings.

The only ones who control our futures are ourselves.
In the world of education, learning how to advocate for yourself is essential in getting the compensation that you need.
If you’re a parent of a child with learning disabilities, include them with decisions. The earlier they can learn about the process, the easier it will be for them to stand up for themselves later in life.

Stay Positive
As hard as the path can be, keeping an eye on the positive side of things will help everyone get through the tough times just a little more easily. By the same token, being there for others and letting them know that it will eventually get better will help make the world as a whole a better place.
Remember to Love
As sappy as it may sound, the act of expressing love for yourself, others and beautiful things in the world will lift the spirits enough to find the strength you have within.
By that same token, although you no doubt feel bitterness and anger at those who are slinging these stigmas at you, do everything you can to avoid returning the favor. These people are just that – people. They’re misinformed, perhaps afraid and behaving in accordance to their own conditioning.
If they’re open minded enough, they’ll be willing to listen to what you have to say. If not, then they will find growth elsewhere.
Again, it’s not your job to change their minds. It’s your job to live as best as you can.

Never Give Up
Most importantly – never, ever, ever give up. Don’t let what other people say dictate how you live your life. The following sound bite has a great deal of truth to it.

If you’d like to get in touch with me, feel free to either comment or shoot me an e-mail.

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