More Than One Way to Be in the World

by | Essays

I learned that there is only one way to be in the world as a child.


It was reinforced in my schooling and solidified in my career in the education system. There are a set of rules for behaving that are socially accepted. Anything outside of that is judged, ridiculed, and punished.

When my son did things seen to be out of the ordinary, I was anxious about how other people would react. That’s because people have reacted in not-so-positive ways in the past. The teacher in me always felt the need to correct him to make him fit in so as not to draw attention to ourselves.


Deeply rooted in these beliefs is ableism—the discrimination of disabled individuals in favor of non-disabled people.


And, it’s only perpetuated as long as we keep trying to mould children’s behavior rather than inviting the change in the mindsets of others.

As parents, we are torn. Although we try to do right by our children, society hits us hard with expectations and harmful reactions.

I have been working on dismantling my internalized ableism over the last several years so that my son never has to feel that his ideas, requests, thoughts, and ways of being in the world are wrong.


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