Friday, October 30, 2009

Refusing to be Politically Correct About Disablities

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile now. I just haven't been sure how to approach it. It's going to be very anti-pc. Of course anyone who reads my blog knows about Taylor and that she is profoundly developmentally disabled. That's a pretty long title but it is the politically correct way to describe Taylor. However, we who love her call her something else. No it is not the dreaded "R" word but I will admit that it is a variation of that one. It's one we find endearing to us.

Now, I realize there are going to be a lot of people that might be upset or horrified that I would use this word in talking about my child, but she is my child and I would never call anyone else's child by this name. I'm sure it helps matters for me that Taylor has no clue about the meaning of this word or even the above phrase…profoundly developmentally disabled. I'm just going to go with PDD from now on. Anyway, Taylor knows tone of voice. You could say the vilest curse words to her and if they were said in a sweet loving voice, she'd smile and laugh.

I'm sure you are wondering by now, what word could her family possibly be using that might offend you. Well, just the other day, we told Taylor that she will be the most popular tardy in her class today. I'm sure some of you sent up a collective *gasp* after you read that. Yes, I do use that word with my child. Partly because of the origin, which is too long to share with you on this post, but also to thumb my nose at everyone expecting me to keep up with whatever the most pc word of the year is when it comes to kids/people like Taylor.

Also related to the above issue is that, as The Bossman says, I do know how to play the "gimp card". Now before you really get angry at me, let me explain. The Bossman and I have been together for over 3 years now. 25 years ago, The Bossman was a cop in California. Unfortunately, an off-duty diving accident made him a paraplegic. I've never known him without the chair. Our first travel trip together really opened my eyes to how inaccessible things really are. We booked a "wheelchair accessible" hotel room. Guess what? We got to the room and The Bossman couldn't get his chair through the door. I was told by the front desk that "most chairs" can. I think I stood there with my mouth hanging open. Most chair? Seriously? His chair is less than the ADA required 36''. They were nice enough (insert sarcasm here because they kept telling us how nice they were) to open the room beside it because it had a wider door and let us use both rooms.

Since that trip, I refuse to have to do some sort of awkward shit just to spend the night away with The Bossman. When we went to a casino here on the Oregon Coast…they actually expected me to wheel him down a ramp, in the dark, without railings to keep you from dropping off a short cliff onto the beach, leave him there, walk around, go upstairs, open the main door, go in the room, unlock the back sliding glass door, and let him get in that way. No, I'm not kidding.

When the hotel receptionist told me that, I just looked at her and pulled out the gimp card (The Bossman's term) and played it like a pro. Needless to say, they gave us a suite in the tower with an elevator and a ramp to get in the building.

For those that think that "hey, you got upgraded without having to pay the extra $$", you're damn right. The problem is that I shouldn't have to "play that card". No one should. If you work in a hotel and you get a call from someone who says they are in a wheelchair and CANNOT walk, think about that when assigning rooms. Some think wheelchair means just having trouble walking…not completely unable to walk. We've had some think he could just stand for a second. Yeah…that doesn't really work well with a severed spinal cord.

Look, I don't expect everyone or anyone to understand my use of the word tardy when I talk about Taylor with family members or even when I'm talking to her. But it's my choice, my word, and it's said with more love than you could ever imagine. No, I don't say that word in front of others. Not because I think it's wrong, but because I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable or awkward.

This is just my world and I thought I would give you a glimpse of my total un-politically correctness. Feel free to disagree with me in the comments section. I welcome all respectful dialogue.

Now I need to do my "Yes I Did" Friday post.


justjaime30 said...

DO you facebook? I only ask because on facebook there is a "like" button and i LIKE this post!! lol I wish i could press a button that says so!! My best friends son, my nephew, is handicapped, mentally retarded, what the "PC" word is and it is CRAZY how many places are too hard for him to go to because of the accessability or lack there of!! If anyone looks down on you because of Taylor and or good you are to her and the bossman tell them to shove it :-)

Jennifer said...

I think I love you Dawn.

I tell Christopher he's being "autie" or call him some version of "stim boy" fairly frequently. It's all in how it's said.

I'm sorry you've had to deal with so much inaccessible crap... it amazes me how marginalization of the handicapped is still so acceptable. But it doesn't surprise me in the least that you know how to play that gimp card to perfection. I would expect nothing less from someone who's such a strong and loving advocate for her gimp :)

heather said...

great post! i can't imagine being in your shoes and i won't try.

the whole "PC" thing makes me feel like i'm walking on eggshells. most recently i read that it is no longer proper to say a disabled child, no, the proper term is a child with a disability. the big issue is not putting the child first.

i am now disabled, i don't like it but it is what it is. and how people describe me is the least of my worries!

i will say that i didn't use my "cancer card" often enough. i have on occasion used my "disabled" card, but only with my husband.

Anonymous said...

My sweet office slave, I have to agree with you completely on this.

It is not what you say, but how you say it.

It is funny how blacks can call themselves the N word, and that is OK, or someone with a disability and they can call themselves a crip, and it is OK.

But God forbid if someone else says that term that is not of that persuasion.

I even get mad at people who are inconsiderate of the wheelchair that I use and am not "BOUND TO" or "crippled" or whatever.

More than the word, it is the attitude.

Like that guy on the coast at the petting zoo we went to. How he talked to his wife about getting his foot run over, by someone rude (me of course) and did not have the courtesy to talk to me like I was stupid.

Like the bumper sticker I published and sold back in the 80's, "The worst handicap is people's attitudes."

You hit the point right on, and by the looks of it, other folks feel the same way.

AKA Bossman

Beth said...

Well, I've not been keeping up with you, and now I see you've been busy (and not SO naughty!).

When reading this post, at first I thought you meant tardy, as in, late for school! I think you can use whatever terminology you want to. It's not like you're out calling people names.

In our house, we use the term "Downie", which would horrify 99% of the Ds community in the USA. We also use "retarded" in context, because we don't want Hannah to hear it for the first time from somebody mean.

We like the Upside Down Show too! It's ridiculous!

kathleen {SG} said...

I've known you, the Boss Man and your dear "seizure salad" **said with all love and respect**.....I understand your frustrations as the Boss Man of our home has a different set of challenges(disabilities) and both even have handicapped ID's on our cars due to the fact neither one can walk very far.....I don't blog much about all of that stuff but it is understandable why you have so many non PC things to say. And you know what? I'm right behind you!!!! As would my son with Aspergers (a form of MR)would be behind you too if he was to read your post. I love you all from a distance and still can't wait till the day we all meet.


Liz said...

Super post. Honestly, I dont know who comes up with the PC crap. It certainly doesn't change how I will describe my child. She is my child and I'll call her whatever I want. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion about it.

Anonymous said...

I get to play the epilepsy card :) And I play it often. Why the hell not? And my husband makes fun of me for it too. Life's too serious as it is. I'd rather laugh at myself than cry over it.

Becca said...

Wow, thank you so much for your honesty, Dawn! That was an excellent post, and one that so many people are afraid to write themselves. I think the only reaction people could really have to it is respect.

Anemone Pie said...

Ohh, goodness...I knew about "Tardy" but this whole post? Cracked me up. I feel like I found a missing part of my family! A story you might appreciate - once upon a time I dated boys. Men, even. Sometimes. Anyway, I became friends with a young man (I was a young woman then, so that part was okay) who had a fairly serious case of cerebral palsy. I couldn't care less about *that but I very much cared about the fact he couldn't seem to figure out I sort of maybe liked him in *that way and I was nervous to tell him. One day he asked, so seriously, if it didn't embarrass me to be seen with him in public. Typical open-mouth-and-let-it-roll reply from me? "Oh, no, it's great! I can't lose you in a crowd since you bob up and down when you walk!" We dated for nearly a year after that. Score one for being un-PC! :-D

Anonymous said...

Of course it is your choice to call your child whatever you like. I am the cousin of a mildly retarded cousin who never knew he was anything other than a slower learner until he had graduated high school. He outperformed his label because he had good parents, good teachers and no knowledge of limitations. He had to work much harder than other kids but he was well supported. That is why I refuse to call my globally developmentally delayed daughter anything other than my best best girl. Many will label me as in denial but only time will tell if it is right or wrong.