For some reason, it seems that disabilities are often equated to fragility. We are treated like breakable china, while our able-bodied counterparts are free to fall, splinter, and reshape themselves as they please. We are sheltered from adventurous dreams and newfound opportunities, while everyone else around us exercises the freedoms of risk-taking and movement. I don’t think it is fair that many of us are forced to remain stagnant. I don’t think it is fair that we can’t jump off the shelves like all the other beautiful masterpieces in the world. I am sick of the words, “That is dangerous,” and, “Please stop.” Is it too dangerous to take chances because I don’t have a pair of fully functioning eyes? Is it too dangerous to travel because I navigate in a different way? No, it is not. There is always a chance that I will be taken advantage of, betrayed, or hurt, but is my risk really that much higher than an able-bodied individual? I don’t think so.
Disabilities are not excuses to habitually monitor and control a person’s life. Disabilities do not actively diminish a person’s level of self-sufficiency; limitations set by others distort that. We possess common-sense, intelligence, and above all, courage to make smart and healthy decisions for ourselves. If you wouldn’t take away someone else’s autonomy, then don’t take away that of a disabled individual’s. Each person has their own story, condition, and medical diagnosis. Those medical diagnoses may make us more bendable than the average person, but just because we bend does not mean that we will break with every encounter of an obstacle. Internal illnesses and diseases may create internal chaos, but we are frequent fighters both inside and out due to the adversity we face. Everything that is meant to destroy us can strengthen our resolve. We may have fragile bodies, but beneath the surface are infinite possibilities for self-growth. We are vesicles of determination and heart. It is reasonable to protect us, question the logic behind our choices, and so on, but never to the point that it infringes upon our well-being. Strengthen our resistance; don’t place more barriers in our paths. We are only as fragile as you make us. We want to aspire to the same level of success as non-disabled peers. We want to discard the false and degrading stereotypes of weakness and delicacy. Reinforcing them is just as harmful as constructing them yourselves. We want to defy low expectations by displaying independence, problem-solving skills, and the characteristics of driven human beings.
I don’t speak for all of us, but I speak for a large amount of people that feel oppressed or frustrated by the lack of awareness surrounding negative treatment. You may not realize that you are babying a disabled individual. You may be a good-hearted person that simply looks out for someone’s best interests, but your best interests may not align with ours. By maintaining the belief that we are fragile, you are imposing on our endeavors. We do not want to be silenced or safe-guarded. We want to maximize our happiness, prosperity, and overall achievement in life. Please do not judge us for our disabilities, the ways in which our minds and bodies work differently than yours. Give us an equal chance to thrive, a chance to rebel against the parts of us that are fragile by default. Those fragile parts may be the most visible, but they are not indicators of our worth and potential.