Monday, March 22, 2010

Disability and Stereotypes

Nelson (2003) claims that “journalists are often influenced by the stereotypes they see in popular media images. These stereotypes are then subconsciously reflected when journalists write about disability or do not think to include disability in a relevant story”.

Some people think that people with disability issues need pity and lacking ability. This is sometimes perpetuated by “fund raising telethon” designed to make people feel bad for people with disability issues. Nelson (2003) claim that people often think that people with disabilities need to be cared for and can be a drain on family, friends and the rest of society, therefore they are considered a burden. They are often lumped into a category of the “super-crip”. A super-crip is considered to be a person with a disability that “Through great courage, stamina, and determination, the person either triumphs or heroically succumbs. This leaves people who already have productive lives to feel inadequate”. Many of my friends know that I have three teenagers with autism. Many people who have a genuine interest in knowing about my kids’ disability have asked me if any of my kids where “like that guy in Rain Man”. This goes back to the “super-crip” mentality. Note that this is not my choice of words for people with disability that have overcome a tremendous amount, but a characterization that Nelson (2003) uses to hammer home the problems with stereo-typing. I kindly explained that in reality, people like the guy in Rain Man does not reflect the majority of the population of people with autism and that this is a generalization.

Nothing good comes from stereo-typing. People with disability have been created in the image of God just like the rest of us. We all have strengths, weakness and different personalities which makes us all unique.


The Ancient Digger said...

This is interesting Chris. I think many people take autistic children for granted. In fact, some musicians and mathematicians I've read about are autistic.

Zuzanna Musial said...

The post is excellent; the people who are able body do not understand the nature of Disability. Often times when someone suddenly hit by a car or other accident, his or her views are changing. We have people in Politics, professors at Universities who are on the wheelchairs and still are able bodies. We too have Olympians who won Gold and confined to wheelchair. This is a negative assumption of those who never lived with disability.

Thank you,

Chris Stonecipher said...

Not all people with autism have these gifts of high level math and music. I believe that it is only a small percentage of people with autism that hold these gifts and these are the ones that society knows about. Music has been instrumental in our family but my kids do not have extra ordinary gifts for music or math. My oldest daughter needs full care while my son needs mainly redirection.

thestickman said...

Great article. My 5-yr. old son's best friend in school has mild autism and his older sister, moreso. It has got to be difficult for sure.

Glynis said...

Interesting post, I tweeted it out for others to read.

PS: My author blog has an award for you Chris.

Clueless said...

Standing "O." I followed you from Go! Smell the Coffee. You have a very interesting and great blog here. In case, you don't go back to read my reply to your post. April 2nd is World Autism Day and I am currently preparing an introductory post about autism. I am actually one of many contributors for Coffee, but it is going through some changes. However, I am not the only writer. The link to this comment is from my primary blog. I'll be my govenor would say!

Chris Stonecipher said...

The Stickman,
The world around me seems to grow and grow with people with autism. Hopefully soon there will be a cure. Thanks for commenting.

Chris Stonecipher said...

Thank you Glynis from the bottom of my heart for the award. I am so flattered and humbled.

Chris Stonecipher said...

Thank you for all your support and following my work. I definitely will be checking out your introductory post on autism as well as your other work.

Anonymous said...

Great job Chris - I quoted you on my blog: Gospel of Weakness

Chris Stonecipher said...

thank you danvp. I will check it out.

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