I think we can all agree that just because you are a teacher, a doctor, a service provider, a mother, a father, or an athlete, doesn’t mean you know everything or what's best for total strangers.
People who are special educators, OTs, PTs, speech therapists, and even aides, come up to me like they know how to treat me simply because they work with the same population of people.
Great Influencers treat people equally
People who are great at what they do are passionate about what they do. They are both empathetic and are focused on what can be instead of what is.
In the world of disability, many people feel that just because they work in the field it gives them the ability to talk to all disabled people. At least once a day a stranger comes up to me, unfortunately, they pet me like a dog and tell whoever is with me that they understand because they work in the field. I’m sorry what do you understand? The people who have stood out to me as great educators have always treated me as an equal. They never felt pity for me because I was disabled. But Those other people who think they know, really don’t. They are the ones that are condescending, and intolerant and make decisions for the person, not with the person.
Great American Weekend
Here’s an example in case I lost you. I recently went to The Great American Weekend, celebrating our Independence. At this festival, there were hundreds of vendors selling everything from hotdogs to kitchen sinks. One such vendor was a local Lavender grower. She was selling sachets of lavender from her garden for $10 for a small bag the size of a wallet picture. I love lavender, it helps me relax and calms my mind but $10 !?!
Needless to say, this woman approached my mother and pulled her aside, and told her she was a physical therapist, indicating that she works with people like me and gave her a pity glance. You the look people give when they feel sorry for you but don't know what else to say. In her eyes her being a PT meant she knew what it was like for the disabled.
She handed her a bag and told her it was a gift for me from her. Wow, another surprise how sweet, or was it? All I had to do was promote her farm.
Gift of Lavender
I’m not sure this is what she meant by promoting her farm but the point is... What purpose did it serve to tell my mom she was a physical therapist? As I understood it she was referring to her ability to understand not only my disability but that she somehow knew what it was like for me and my mom because she worked with people like me. Like me? People, who stand up for themselves, work hard and try to help others? Or did she mean disabled? It didn’t really matter because as soon as someone describes themselves as one of THOSE people, I know exactly who they are. They have big hearts but do for the disabled instead of with the disabled.
Recently I went to the dentist. A new dentist because the old clinic closed due to COVID, they couldn’t meet the mandate of 6 feet apart. From the moment I walked into the new dentist's building, I knew how I was going to feel when I left.
This had nothing to do with the fact that I was at the dentist. I loved Dr. Mori, my old dentist, she was fantastic, compassionate, and understanding, and always talked to me about what was going on. The receptionist greeted my mother, my mother pointed the receptionist's attention to me as I spoke. She didn’t understand me and I repeated myself several times. In reality, she just wasn’t listening and asked my mother for the information. I simply was telling her that my name was Allison Murphy and I was there for my appointment. I was escorted into the room and they asked my mother if she, meaning me, would transfer herself. I am sitting right there, listening, hearing their words, and thinking, am I not a person? At that point, I asked mom to transfer me from my chair. This was my way of letting them know I knew what they were talking about.
The clueless Hygentist
Then the hygienist walked in, I got no greeting, my name is… she just started shoving things into my mouth for the x-rays. I tried to explain my visual issues and that if she would just tell me what she was doing I could better help. She wasn’t listening, She turned to my mother for an explanation, and in the end, my mom had to explain. She told them I was blind and needed to be told what they were doing before they did it. Because otherwise, I would jump out of my skin. She also told her that I could communicate and understood everything she says. Also that they just had to tell me what to do. They didn’t say a word, my mom told me what they were doing. My mother did this because she reads me like a book. She knew I was shutting down. After the person was done we waited for the dentist.
The Dentist arrives
Then the Dentist walked in, she simply came in, sat down, told me to open my mouth and she probed it with some sharp pointy object.
No hi, my name is Dr whatever, why are you here or whatever. Then she told me I had to come back for a cleaning. I was shocked, I had made the appointment myself, I even called them back to make sure it was for a checkup and cleaning. Nope, just a check-up. She told me I had a cavity, my first one, to make an appointment and she would see me next time. Huh? I tried to talk to her about what may have caused this but got nothing she just walked out of the room. Both mom and I were totally flabbergasted.
Got to find a new Dentist
Defeated, I went to the receptionist's desk to make another appointment for the cleaning. She said, “Hey, we are the same age”. We exchanged small talk about how I am in college and how I want to be an advocate for people like myself. I feel the need to do this sometimes to show people I'm no dummy. She replied that she too wanted to be an advocate. I thought to myself, keep your day job. You are one of THOSE people. I made the appointment and then she turned to my mother and said under her breath, “I work with people like her, I am a DSP”. Again, I am sitting right there, as though I am not a person, and thanking my lucky stars she is not my DSP. Unfortunately, this happens all too often and it needs to change. I have a disability, but people don’t have the right to make me feel disabled. Needless to say, I canceled the appointment and am looking for a new dentist.
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to pray with me and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.