We live in a society where people are judged for who they are and if they seem to have any type of flaws those flaws tend to make up who the person is. People with disabilities shouldn’t be judged by their disabilities. Our society has come a long way in accepting people with disabilities but we still have more to accomplish seeing as the harsh judgment still exists. We need to be able to live in a society where people do not judge, can accept others for who they are and help others who may need some assistance or guidance do to a disability, especially children.
They are our society’s future. Just because they are disabled doesn’t mean they are not a part of the whole or that they cannot possibly make a positive difference in the world. As the author of the article, “A Child with Down Syndrome Keeps His Place at the Table” points out that we have made a lot of progress for children with Down syndrome in the United States. Most of that progress he points out is their rights to go to school. They have progressed from just being recognized as needing to be “somewhere special”, a place of horrific mistreatment.
Such a place was exposed in a hidden camera documentary filmed by Geraldo Rivera in 1972 for severe neglect and mistreatment of the residence that all had some sort of disability. This place was Willow Brook State School and was located on Staten Island. His exposer of this school was a small part in a large change where advocates for the disabled, committed parents, as well as others fought for the rights that are presently in place today. Even with the many advances in society there still remains open bigotry though not as much. Though most are discrete and not as straight forward the hostile judgment is still there.
The word “retard” is used in school yards between students and in movies but is not seen so much today as bigotry but as just being a bit “edgy”. Why as a society do we feel the need to dehumanize one another? Our society makes it very difficult for anyone with a disability to function freely in their own lives and to live without criticism. The author asks the question, “What is it about intellectual disabilities we find so difficult? ” The focus of these disabilities tends to be on the positive qualities such as being “cute” or “happy” or “sweet”.
This is meant to compensate for the disability. I see it as singling out a person because of their disability and using it as a way to make the disability easier to deal with and as a way to handle being around the person. I see this as being a bit degrading and selfish even. I believe that our society has come a long way in being able to accept people with disabilities. I also believe that we still have a ways to go. I have seen the good and the not so good in the way children with Down syndrome are accepted and/or treated because my niece Barbara has Down syndrome.
Barbara does not speak but her school has been wonderful in teaching her to communicate using sign language over the years and recently started using a speech generating device. The device is to recognize the words she is saying and the words she is trying to say. The medical and educational treatment for children with Down syndrome has really improved over the years even just since the case at Willow Brook State School. Sadly, there are still reports of abuse in state owned homes and hospitals for disabled individuals. I am sure that there are places that have cases of abuse that have not been reported.
Sometimes people just ignore what is going on because they fear they may lose their job. With the advances in mental health care less people have to send their children in to homes or hospitals. They are able to keep their children at home and receive in home care and mobile therapy. The schools offer extra help for these children so that they are able to be more focused on to get all the help that they need. The schools also offer special outings and activities that are helpful in their education and to give them more of an opportunity to interact with their classmates.
The author of the article points out that he is a parent of a child with Down syndrome. With the subject being very personal to him he does not sound angry with the way the people in the restaurant were treated. He doesn’t seem to be judgmental in anyway. He simply points out what happened and mentions facts relating to the situation. He does offer his opinion that the waiter in the story did the right thing in speaking out and standing up for the boy. Even though the waiter could have lost his job for speaking out, he still did.
I believe that the waiter did do the right thing and as the author pointed out, by speaking out for the child it shows that society has grown to accepting people disabilities and that they even have compassion for them. Should the waiter be considered a hero for standing up for someone who is being pointed out publicly for their disability? The author asks the same question. Personally, I don’t know if I can think of the act as heroic. I do believe as well that it was most definitely the right thing to do and it did take courage to say something knowing there was a risk of being fired.
I am very curious to know if the waiter’s boss was aware of the situation and if so what was their opinion on what happened? The author did not mention that in the story. I think it would have been important to point out if the boss was sympathetic toward the child and his family or if they agreed with the customer who made the remark. I find it very inspiring that despite the harsh words and uneducated thoughts people express toward people with disabilities, the people with the disability usually do not judge in return.
They clearly see the meanness coming from another person and they don’t have it in them to hold hard feelings. I wish we were all able to have such open and caring hearts. Why do we have such a selective view of things? Why do we have to be afraid of the things that are not “normal” to us? Having a disability does not make you less of a person. Having a disability means that you may have to work harder to do something’s that seems to come easily to anyone else. No person will ever be “perfect” so there is no reason for society to push the idea that anyone can be.
We are all flawed in one way or another. Our flaws are what make us unique and make up who we are. The author pointed out that the child being in the restaurant made a statement that he was someone’s child. I don’t think we should have to explain or point out anything. The boy and his family should have been able to walk in to the restaurant and sit down and enjoy their meal peacefully, as the man who made the remark would expect to happen for his self or anyone he may have been seated with.
If the boy became loud and disruptive then that should have been the issue not the simple fact that he was there and looked “different”. We live in a very intelligent world filled with many advances in technology yet we are not educated enough nor advanced enough to get along with one another. I think there should be more programs in schools to teach children more about life and basic lessons on being humane. The schools should have classes with specific lessons on mental health and disabilities.
If children are more familiar with these types of things they may be more accepting and less judgmental. For some reason we tend to fear the unknown and are not always equipped with how to deal with our fears. With having so many issues today with bullying in schools it should be mandatory to have classes educating children on how to treat people, especially people with disabilities and teach them it is not acceptable. I think being aware bigotry still exists and educating on the issue would make a big difference in getting us closer to a more accepting society.