Today, I watched the following video on one of my all time favorite dyslexia geared web pages, The Dyslexic Advantage.
As I listened to the troubles these folks had faced, which were so similar to mine, the way they explained their thought processes and the successes they worked for, I thought about the negative comments I’ve seen here and there about videos like this one.
Videos like this have been called as “disability porn” to putting unfair expectations on people facing challenges. While those who think that are entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think they quite grasp the point behind these types of things.
To me, these folks exemplify possibility in the face of adversity. It’s not saying that all dyslexics must raise to those heights, so much as the idea that we hold the potential within us to reach for, and perhaps attain, our dreams with enough work, support and determination.
I realize the term “disability porn” may be a foreign concept to a lot of my readers. To my understanding, it’s basically “normal” folks using people with various disabilities as inspiration for themselves. It’s seen as actually being demeaning, and reducing the inspirational person to being their disability.
When done wrong, the subject is reduced to that one facet of their life, but in cases like the video above, I don’t think that’s the case. Inspirational videos like these are more about telling a variety of stories of people facing similar difficulties. It embraces them as a whole while acknowledging something many people struggle with at the same time.
If people without dyslexia want to draw inspiration from their stories, I don’t see the harm. Everyone struggles at some point, regardless of background or ability.
Part of the problem I see in a lot of groups is the whole idea of us vs them, when, in reality, everyone needs to work together to establishing cultural change for the better.
The representation those in the video offer for those in the world of dyslexia is extremely helpful in offering the possibility of success, when all you may be getting at the moment is failure.
The same goes for ADHD, autism and other neurological make ups. That’s why it’s so important that adults, well known and not, can speak freely of their experiences in relation to their perceived disabilities.
Not only will they help others with the same neurology, they help spread true awareness to those of us with different wiring.
That’s part of why I enjoy reading works by folks on the spectrum like Temple Grandin, seeing interviews by folks with ADHD like Robin Williams and learning more about fellow dyslexics, like Whoopi Goldberg and Will Smith.
At the same time, I understand why some folks may not be comfortable with this idea. Sharing our stories can be a bit on the embarrassing side, and there can be unpleasant overtones when listening to others’ stories, especially when other aspects like racism, sexism and religious issues are interwoven.
It’s important to remember that although you may not enjoy what’s written or recorded, there may still be value in it. The choice is yours whether to endure to the end, to stop partway through, or to skip it altogether.
So long as there’s no ill intent, please try not to take that help from people who may need it.