From time to time we receive questions here at The IMAGE Center which we answer. Some of them are of such importance that we feel it necessary to publish them in our blog. So, dipping into the mail bag, we find this recent request for assistance from Teresa, a parent who has a son with Downs Syndrome.
“For Image Center, if you could go ahead and get people to stop approaching me with inane comments that would be great…just this week a conversation about Jesse’s (my son’s) name…his middle name is James and yes he is named after the wild west gunslinger J so this goofball asks if I really think that’s appropriate “considering…..” funny though because I had the name picked before the diagnosis and when he was born they asked if I thought it was appropriate “in light of….”
What can I say? (insert dramatic sigh here….)
So again, if your agency can just deal with these folks…lololol I have the utmost confidence in you to get this task done.”
I replied as follows:
Well, of course, we’d be glad to help out. Perhaps we need a set of disability rules. If you follow these rules people and their comments won’t confuse you. Let me see…
- 1. Once you become disabled or have a disabled child everything is about that! Your entire life revolves around the disability. Everything about you is easily understood because it all relates to your disability and the disability of your son.
- Getting up in the morning. “How do you do that given your disability? Going to work?” “How do you get there, given that your son has a disability?” See how this works?
- 2. If you have a dog its because of your disability (see number 1 for understanding this one). No pets–sorry!
- 3. Oh, and did I mention that if you’re disabled all of your friends are as well!! I know it should be obvious but perhaps more depth. You only have friends with disabilities. Your spouse is! And when you go to events…You guessed it, they’re disability related events.
- 4. Now to the original subject of your son’s name. If you have a disability your name must be in some way either connected to your disability or at the very least, it must be chosen with your disability in mind. To help clarify. Somebody in a wheelchair would never have the last name Walker. Somebody with an intellectual disability would never have the last name Fullbright. A blind person would never be named Sawyer. And, somebody with upper extremity limitations wouldn’t have the last name Armstrong.
- We hope this helps to clarify what might have otherwise been misunderstood. You might, without any real consideration of the matter, have simply thought that people with disabilities are, for the most part, just like everyone else. Their disability would be simply one part of who they are, not necessarily a defining characteristic. Kind of like your brown eyes or your body shape, disability would just be something you work into your over all being. It could happen that your disability never much crosses your mind for days and days, being less important than say, paying the bills or picking up groceries after work. In other words, you could have somehow concluded that people with disabilities are just like everyone else–same cares, concerns, interests and feelings. And, you would have been right accept for the fact that people with disabilities confront those without them on a daily basis and are seldom allowed to simply be normal. So, in that sense, their disability really does become central to who they are–an educator of the general public–willing or unwilling.
“How funny! I am crying…YOU HAVE to post that! This is classic. This is going in a frame on my wall and I am going to change Jesse’s name to Jesse James Fullbright. I will be known as Teresa Downsmother.”
Thanks! You made my day. Its nice to be able to laugh about these challenges.”
Another satisfied customer!
Thanks for reading, folks. If you’ve got a question for Mike and The IMAGE Center team you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post it right on our facebook page at www.facebook.com/theimagecenter. And please share us with your friends, family, and colleagues!
See ya next time on Ask Mike!