Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Amy Purdy and Inspiration Porn on Dancing with the Stars

Okay, but Carrie Ann, yes you CAN take a point off for lifts because you do it for every other competitor…and the fact that you won’t is just patronizing. So ridiculous.

I don't think you realize how hard it is for a person with two working legs to do a dance like that and preform as well as she had so if you think you can do better try cuz seriously she is amazing not only as an inspiration but as an athlete

I’m firmly on Amy’s side and in her corner.  I use a wheelchair myself (as I have Cerebral Palsy.)  My problem was not with Amy.  It was with Carrie Ann for not judging Amy on the same basis as she judges everyone else. I’ve dealt with my share of unwarranted pity and patronizing, and those are just as damaging and discriminatory as some of the more overt behaviors that might be readily recognized as discrimination.  If you look at Amy’s face after Carrie Ann’s comment about not deducting points for the lifts, Amy herself didn’t look pleased at the special treatment. Most people with disabilities (that I’m aware of anyway) wouldn’t be.
Carrie Ann is such a stickler for rules, and I’ve never seen her refuse to deduct points in the face of such blatant violation of the rules.  (Two HUGE lifts, both feet off the floor.)  I understand why they were in the dance.  I’m not saying I could do better.  I’m saying I would love for the judges and the host could see her as Amy the whole person and Amy the athlete and dancer, instead of Amy, the amputee and inspiration.

I can tell you have never had to deal with a single obstacle

As I just told someone else who took issue with my commentary about Carrie Ann - I wasn’t judging Amy in that moment.  It’s not about Amy.  It’s about Carrie Ann’s own double-standard.  She is such a stickler for rules that I have never seen her flagrantly disregard two lifts in a dance that didn’t permit lifts.  She did that BECAUSE she saw Amy as less.  That’s what I take issue with.  I understand why the lifts were there.  I just want to see Amy be judged on the same criteria as everyone else on the dance floor.  She’s an athlete.  If you saw her face after Carrie Ann mentioned not deducting points, Amy didn’t look pleased about it.  (And as someone with a disability myself, I completely get where she is coming from, and want, first and foremost to be judged equally.)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Advice: How Can People In Wheelchairs Drive?

I’ve seen references in fandom to Artie [character on Glee with a spinal cord injury] driving and I’m just not clear on how? If he can’t use his legs to control the gas and break? Are their special upgrades that are made to cars so he doesn’t need to use his feet?

First, it’s not offensive or insensitive at all (at least not to me.) I’m always open to questions. To answer your question, I found you a video which does a far better job of explaining than I can. I will say that when I took behind the wheel for driver’s ed, I drove once (and was then told I’d never learn…and I never learned…story for another time…) ANYWAY, I had one of those knobs on the steering wheel, and it was super hard for me to manage. Not sure why. Anyway, that’s my limited experience with hand controls. Any other questions, you can ALWAYS ask.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Advice: Addressing the Harm in Thinking We Are Trapped In a Wheelchair

I have a swimming shift tomorrow! I’m so excited! It’s been ages since I did one. And they’re always my favourites.

I think because, for my clients, a lot of them are trapped in their chairs - and a lot of clients at swimming shifts especially, because it’s usually those with limited means of communication, let alone control over their body. I think, for those that enjoy it, it’s a way for them to be free of their chair, to just be somewhere with people and be close to weightless and just settle down with only hands pressing you instead of wood and padding and whatever else the chairs are made of.

I hope your swimming shift went well! (And I hope you don’t mind that I’m lending my perspective to this post.)
First, the notion of being “trapped” in a wheelchair. Just because that’s what you would feel being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that’s what we feel (and I’m using we in the general sense, knowing that I obviously can’t and don’t speak for every single person with a disability.) You know what it’s like to walk unaided. For you, that’s normal. For you, being in a wheelchair would indicate loss. Maybe it would mean a feeling of being confined or trapped and a general loss of independence.
For someone in a chair, in all likelihood, using a chair is what is normal to them, too. It is for me. For us, it does not indicate a loss, at all. Because our wheelchairs actually liberate us. Without them, is when we would feel the most trapped, the most dependent, the most vulnerable. Does that make sense?
That being said, there IS a sense of freedom in the pool for me. It absolutely CAN mean awesome different sensations, seeing things from a different perspective, and being able to get in with others and participate on a new level. There’s also that vulnerability I spoke of earlier, though. Maybe you’ve experienced it with a client who is nervous in the water. I know I get nervous, too. Because we are without our chairs which give us freedom and independence, and we are relying on you to keep us safe, and that can be scary, especially if we don’t know you well. I always appreciated the reassurance I got from whoever was in the position to help me (whether an adaptive PE teacher or a camp counselor.)
Anyway, just thought I’d contribute my two cents to your post, and I hope the swimming shift goes well for you and everyone!