Ableism and Pity. Reject Them, Be Awesome

Photograph of close up of pink flowers , orange and yellow flowers in background out of focus .Text reads "Ableism and Pity. Reject Them, Be Awesome" Amy Sequenzia on Ollibean

I have written about how I had to unlearn ableism.

 

I have written about my uncooperative body.

 

I always state how generally happy I am, and that I am comfortable being me.

 

All this is true but frustration shows up, and grows, every time I meet ableism.

 

I meet ableism a lot.

 

Ableism brought forth by pity. Pity directed at me by people who seem to believe I am “trapped” inside my body, that I suffer, or that my life is so hard, they can’t understand how I can even have goals and aspirations.

 

Pity because I need help with things most people don’t need help with, and because the way I might present myself to them, at that moment, may not match the things I write.

 

I might not look like their expectation of me.

 

(Note: I welcome kindness from people who try to help me, people who try to find accommodations when none is readily available. Kindness is possible without pity)

 

My body is a little tricky.

 

It spins when I feel happy.

 

It also spins when I feel overwhelmed.

 

I may smile and laugh because I am happy.

 

Or it may be another seizure signaling its arrival.

 

Sometimes I am elated but my face refuses to match the sentiment.

 

When I meet people, I usually need some quiet space, some extra time to engage, type and enjoy the connection.

 

If I am recovering from a seizure, if I am in pain, I might look helpless, or unreachable.

 

I am not trapped.

 

I am not unreachable.

 

I am present, in the moment, and I am doing my best to connect.

 

Don’t pity me.

 

My body can be frustrating, but it is all mine, I own it.

 

Don’t pity me.

 

My reactions might seem odd, but my brain still absorbs information.

 

 

Don’t pity me.

 

Maybe I am not able to fully engage with you at that moment but I want to connect.

 

When I meet new people, I try not to have expectations but I hope for awesome.

 

Don’t pity me. Be awesome.

 

Ableism brought forth by pity is frustrating. It gets in the way of possibilities.

 

It also awakens my own internalized ableism that I try to keep buried in darkness.

 

Then I have to use my energy to keep that internalized ableism at bay, instead of using the energy to be my best awesome for you.

 

Don’t pity me. Let’s be awesome.

 

Now, if your ableism is due to your assumptions about me, and your dismissal of my worthiness, awesome can never happen and I don’t have time for you.

 

 

Ableism – discrimination against disabled people, often unconscious/implicit

 

Internalized ableism – disabled people buy into these ableist beliefs too because they are insidious and ingrained into society, and they hate/feel badly about themselves because they think that they should.

 

Image description black and white photograph of woman with short dark brown hair. She is smiling. Dark grey text reads:Amy Sequenzia Passionate Autistic activist, writer, and poet . Read more from Amy on Ollibean and visit nonspeakingautisticspeaking.blogspot.com .

About the Author:

Amy Sequenzia is a non-speaking Autistic, multiply disabled activist and writer. Amy writes about disability rights, civil rights and human rights. She also writes poetry. Amy has presented in several conferences in the US and abroad, and her work is featured in books about being Autistic and Disabled. Amy is deeply involved with the Neurodiversity Movement and has been outspoken about the rights and worthy of disabled people. Amy serves on the Board of Directors of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN), and the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST). http://nonspeakingautisticspeaking.blogspot.com and Autism Women’s Network. You can also follow Amy on Twitter at @AmySequenzia.

6 Comments

  1. […] this, the prosecutor sends a message that disabled people are either a burden on their families, or pitiful beings whose behaviors and way of being resemble that of animals, rather than the behaviors of human […]

  2. […] of the best cures for ableism I know of is to read Amy Sequenzia. She writes for Ollibean and for the Autism Women’s Network. Her posts are collated at Non-Speaking Autistic Speaking […]

  3. […] Amy Sequenzia is an interesting non-verbal author to read . Her work is found on her own website or on Ollibean or the Autism Women’s Network. Amy lets us know that how we treat people with autism and our perceptions matter. She has a body that does not cooperate and can’t speak, yet her mind is active with much to express. Here is a blog post she did about Abelism and Pity. […]

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