Found History is Disability History Meredith Ritchie

Found History is Disability History Meredith Ritchie As you may have heard in the past couple of months archeologist in England have unearthed the skeleton of King Richard III.  King Richard III was the last king of the House of York, ruling in the mid 1400s.   The skeleton was found under a parking lot in…

Good Intentions Gone Bad

The article below was reported on May 5, 2009 by WSBT television in South Bend Indiana and has received wide distribution on the internet.  It illustrates how good intentions often produce unhealthy outcomes.  As you read the article, please notice that every person involved in the story wanted to be positive, say yes and empower…

Finding Your Passion

For most of us, finding our dream job is a slow and uncertain process.  Recently I spoke to somebody who indicated that the reason he wasn’t working was that “I’m not sure yet what my passion is.” It occurred to me that perhaps some folks may be confused about following their dreams and fulfilling their…


This is a great time of year to look for work.  Everybody who is actually in their office is in a good mood because of the summer and not too busy to talk with you.  This is the time of year when creative CEO’s and directors are recharging their batteries, formulating plans, and analyzing shortcomings. So,…

NCIL’d and Dimed

What do you do when you hate your disability and are suddenly surrounded by hundreds of other people with disabilities? That’s what I was trying to figure out while staring at my scooter’s steering wheel during the opening plenary of the annual NCIL conference in Washington, DC. Everywhere I looked in that conference room I…

Announcing the IMAGE Center’s Disability Skills Library!

Have you ever wondered how an amputee ties his or her shoes, how a blind person knows what clothes to wear, or how someone who is paralyzed transfers in and out of a wheelchair? The Image Center’s Disability Skills Library is a collection of  candid and informative YouTube videos which provide the answers to these…

Are You Really Needed

DOES THE JOB MARKET REALLY NEED ME? This is a great time of year to look for work. Everybody who is actually in their office is in a good mood because of the summer and not too busy to talk with you. This is the time of year when creative CEO’s and directors are recharging…

Some Days It Just Hurts

There’s no denying that some days it just hurts. No matter how I act, no matter what I do, the world simply won’t budge. I’m walking to the bus stop this morning and arrive just as the bus pulls up. I walk up and say to this guy who is in line, “Hey, can you…

Love, Sex and Disability: The Attraction Factor

For most High School students with disabilities life is very lonely. Far more than at any time in our lives, adolescents want to be accepted and liked. Unfortunately, the code for this is, “You need to be like everyone else.” And, the kid with the disability simply isn’t “like everyone else.” I never dated or…

ASK MIKE: Dealing With Inane Comments

Hi Folks,

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.

Teresa responds:

“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, or post it right on our facebook page at And please share us with your friends, family, and colleagues!

See ya next time on Ask Mike!