Every day when I interact with or observe someone, I always wonder if that person has a disability or not. I don’t know why but I understand how. Each time a thought comes to mind, I wonder how my son will be able to co-exist in mainstream life. Having a child on the autism spectrum has made me more sensitive and aware of others around me and what they may be going through.
Something happened the other day that prompted me to write this: I was heading home after leaving the train station and it was snowing. I observed a man standing outside on the corner yelling out continuously but it sounded like he was asking for help or begging for change. A random guy wearing a baseball jacket, jersey and cap mentioned out loud in an angry tone, “What is his problem? Does he want change?” I replied at random yet purposely,”Maybe he has a disability or something, I don’t know.” In saying this, I thought I was sharing light on a minor situation, only to be shocked by the random guy’s response, “THAT’S NOT MY PROBLEM!” I held my comments and left it alone.
This was very disturbing to me. This clearly identifies a mainstream issue that continues to exist where people who do not have a disability are apathetic to those who may have one that is either visible or undetectable to the naked eye. For this reason, I fear future apathy and discrimination toward my child who one day will grow to adulthood and not necessarily understand why people in their thoughts and actions can react so coldly.
How do you handle instances when people express apathy and intolerance toward people with disabilities?