Disabled, but human

2017-06-06 06:00

TO readers who judge people with disabilities - there was an article about me a few years ago in a local paper aimed at creating awareness about disabilities.

It told of me having a neurological condition called autism.

After that article was published, I heard from a friend that some people who read the article were calling me a “retard”.

This was no surprise to me as I had that thrown in my face for years.

Please consider this: if I were a retard­, would I have earned a university degree in journalism and anthropology, and been the sub-editor for four newspapers at one company?

In addition, I have been on Autism South Africa’s national executive committee (board) and the KZN Provincial Disability Forum at the Premier’s Office.


People who have or had autism:

• singer Susan Boyle;

• actress Daryl Hannah;

• singer James Durbin; and

• classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

It is very easy to become disabled. You can become disabled at any time.

Common causes of disabilities are car accidents, traumatic experiences, brain injuries, violence from crime or abuse, malnutrition and viruses or infections.

I’m sure you or someone you know has been through one of those.

The crisis of psychiatric patients dying after being transferred from Life Esidimeni hospitals because of neglect by the Gauteng Health Department­ and NGO managers, etc., proved that people with mental illness are seen as the lowest of the low in the social and disability hierarchy, and they are treated like trash.

This needs to change.

People with psychiatric disabilities are humans like you.

Just because they have a disability does not make them inhuman.

You need to realise that diversity brings unity.

I’m not only talking about racial diversity, but also different abilities and brain waves.

SHELLIQUE CARBY-BIRD

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