OUTSIDE READING – We Are Not Your Inspiration

Please take ten minutes out of your day and listen to Stella Young talk about not being an inspiration… because it may (hopefully) change a particular way you look at your fellow humans and will definitely make you think before you post phrases such as:
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”
“Before you quit, try.”
“Your excuse is invalid.”
…accompanying images of disabled folks living their everyday lives.

This is called “inspiration porn” and it needs to stop.

Every time you post these images, videos (the recent one of a restaurant staffer assisting a disabled person eating comes to mind), and news stories… you are grossly objectifying human beings. You are utilizing disabled people in an attempt to feel better about your own situation in life or to drive you to “be better” than you are. This includes asking disabled kids to prom when one lacks a genuine connection with the person being asked and/or an honest desire to accompany them to prom for the right reasons (which do not include feeling sorry for them or taking them because nobody else will). This also includes putting a disabled kid in the game at the last minute under the guise of making him or her feel better about themselves, when in reality, it’s more about making everyone else feel better about having allowed the disabled person to potentially have an opportunity they may not have had in the first place. How about you let them feel better about having earned that spot on the team/field/court and don’t just give it to them out of pity?

We’re not your proverbial carrot on a stick, being dangled as what your life COULD be like, so you better appreciate what you have. How about you appreciate what you have, because you’re genuinely grateful for it, rather than thinking, “Oh, it could be so much worse” and then immediately thinking about someone missing a limb or someone with dwarfism or someone who has developmental delays (like the person writing the post you are currently reading). Nor are we here to make you feel like you’ve done some great deed by deigning to grace us with your presence or… OMG… friendship. If you are not genuinely interested in befriending us because of who we are – inclusive of our disability, not despite it – then that’s not true friendship.

I am not here to inspire you or make you feel better about yourself. I am here to live my life, which does include choosing to educate others about autism and disability in general. If that education inspires you to change how you see the world and how you live your life, awesome, but do not look at MY life (or the lives of others) and exploit our existence in order to feel good/better about yourself.

Now go listen to Stella…