Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Defining Today’s Disability Studies, by Alec Frazier and Autistic Reality

There is one primary argument defining today’s field of disability studies. It is the argument of pity versus respect.
As for the pity, the traditional way of looking at disability was formulated by those without disabilities, and views disability as something sad and pitiable that is taking away an individual’s ability to be a complete human. Jerry’s Kids is one such organization, as is Autism Speaks. The idea is that those with disabilities are somehow lacking, and we must feel sorry for them.
As for the respect, the new, consumer driven disability rights movement argues that disability is an inherent form of difference within the spectrum of humanity. It argues that those with disabilities deserve equal treatment by individuals, the law, and organizations, as the disabled are just as human as anyone else. The independent living movement is an early example of a system of organizations that have argued for respect. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network is another such organization, although it has started moving away from the respect point of view and into the radical activism point of view.
But may this humble disability studies student suggest a third path? How’s about the middle of the road, between pity and respect? This student calls it realism. It entails respect of those with disabilities, yet willingness to do and say things that may not be completely politically correct, but are more realistic than simply abstaining from saying and doing things for fear of offending someone. This is just a suggestion of a third point of view.

This blog posting is both the personal opinion of Alec Frazier, and the professional policy of his advocacy firm, Autistic Reality. If you oppose it, please screen grab it! We are very proud of this opinion!