Awakening to the Ableism Within You

by | Essays

When my son was a newborn, his disability was only mildly noticeable.

When he didn’t have to meet milestones, it was easy to pretend he didn’t have a diagnosis attached to him. As I nestled my baby in my arms, I also nestled cozily into ableism.⠀

Moms will often utter, “As long as it’s healthy,” when asked about a pregnancy.⠀

What happens when the baby isn’t diagnosed as “healthy?”⠀

What happens is that a mother sits in partial denial of the child’s make-up—a result of the conditioning that if the baby is not “perfect,” it’s shameful, pitiful, and inadequate?

Parents are indirectly (and sometimes directly!) made to feel “less than” for having conceived this “imperfect” child.⠀

Ableism surrounded me in a medical institution that is meant to heal, and it threatened me.

Ableism surrounded me in the words of well-intentioned family members and friends, and it shamed me.⠀

When ableism is all around us, we internalize it, carry it, allow it to grow and silence our intuition as a result.

As parents, educators, clinicians, and allies, we need our intuition to guide us so that we can better stand up for and serve the children in our care—and those who are alongside and behind them.

Awareness is the first step.


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Continue reading my essays, activities, and case studies for supporting the education of disabled/chronically ill and neurodivergent children.