Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of disability representation in stories, both fiction and none, involve a loss of ability? The characters lose limbs, functionality or sensory ability through illness or injury. Very rarely is there a character born without a limb or sense.
As discussed a while ago, disability is one of the most poorly handled topics in our stories. Disabled characters are almost always seen as needing pity, curing or as comic relief. Rarely are they seen as real people able to contribute meaningfully to their worlds.
It’s interesting, though, how rarely they’re born with their disability.
The topic bleeds into the real world, too. I’ve noticed there seems to be a sharp divide between people who’ve acquired their disability over the years as opposed to those who were born with it.
In many ways, I can understand. Those who are born with a certain ability level naturally learn how to cope as they grow up. They don’t know any other experience, and don’t miss previous ability levels.
Those who were born with normal ability levels tend to feel the sting of their new normal more acutely, because they remember how easy so many things were.
Naturally, this leads to misunderstanding and sometimes conflict.
In reality, we’ll all face changes in ability as we age. That just comes from being human. Our bodies break down at varying rates, no matter how well we take care of them and we all cope with that differently.
However, that’s hard to grasp until it actually happens, which is why it’s so hard for younger people to understand.
Regardless of the “why” or “how” there’s still always frustration over the topic.
Tonight’s #AbilityChat revolves around this issue. If it interests you, join us at 7 pm CST on twitter.