Here in this blog, I have highlighted many things that plague me as a disabled woman. Here, however, are some common denominators as a disabled person, maybe even better classified as a person with physical challenges such as blindness that we all face. All those classified as (insert word here) where that blank defines the person as having a significant barrier to the person’s daily functioning face some significant unnecessary barriers to enjoying life itself and being as remotely normal as possible. We take every one of these commonalities seriously. Let me highlight some composites, but the names of any victims who have died have been used because obvious obits were written on such people. People like Kelly M. Bond are important teaching tools for parents so that we all can learn what can happen when Kelly Bonds of this world are left to die in the hills. I have two women and two men I’d like to highlight. So here goes.
Theresa Decker, someone I met at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, was born to a very young mother who was irresponsible. She and a young father lived in a little shanty shack where her treatment there was questionable. She was bumped on the head while her twelve-year-old mother was washing her. Years later, Decker would report that she was on seizure medications. She is hearing impaired, and later on, she was adopted by a loving family. Her life was, however, something from Hell. She spent some time in juvenile hall because of a crime she probably did not commit. She spent time on probation, again for something she did not commit. Decker was seriously sad when I met her. Her family was loving to my knowledge, but she missed her brother, Michael. They have seen each other probably, but the worst thing about Theresa’s life was her mistreatment at the hands of a negligent mother of twelve years old. First, I’m sure that mother could’ve done worse than she already did. She could have chosen to give Theresa up for adoption, but she did not.
Kelly M. Bond was 32 years old and was not living the best life. She was born in Nashville, and unbeknownst to her, was subjected to emotional and physical abuse by her family. They accused her repeatedly of lying about her family situation. I knew of Bond via my friend Lacey. Bond was the daughter of Peggy Wilburn Bond and Thomas Bond. If you looked at the obituary of Ms. Bond, you would know this: more of it was written about the others in her life, not Bond herself. Kelly had been killed over a life insurance policy. She spent many years trying to seek solace from her animal friends, a dog called Jerry and a cat called George. She had loved horses and loved skiing. The one thing that Lacey noticed about Kelly and her condition was that Kelly was deteriorating and upon her death, the sister, Emily Bond, acted like it was nothing. Bond died a troubled and abused young woman, unmarried, broken, damaged to the core. Her check was never hers, her life was never hers.
The next two profiles are sketches of disabled people whereby the commonalities are shown and they overcome or succumb to those things.
Eric (name has been changed to protect privacy.) is 19 years old. He is blind and does not know how to manage his own money. The parents never bothered to teach him about adult maturation issues. OF course, it really bugs Eric that he can’t put condoms on or he does not understand what birth control options are available for him and his partner, a young girl called Rachel (name has been changed to protect privacy.) Eric would like to live a normal life. Rachel would like to have children, but she admits she’s not ready yet. Eric’s parents made the big mistake of not allowing him to manage his life and affairs. It is truly disgusting, he says, that his own parents have no faith in his ability to function. It really bugs Eric that in terms of blindness, Eric says, people think he is dumb, stupid, and retarded in that order.
Eric grows up and gets married and stuff. His wife, Elise (name has been changed to protect privacy.) is much younger. Eric developed diabetes type II as a result of age. He is now an elder, yet his sister has abused him for the longest time. His own niece would not show respect to her Uncle Eric. Eric finally went to a training center where he learned skills he needed. He found resources to help him and his new wife cope with a demented father-in-law who refuses to cooperate with social services, and they plan to move in together to a new place.
Kahili is a young native of Denver. He met Calypso when he was 31 years old. His mother is currently attempting to manipulate him so she doesn’t have a foreclosure on her condominium. She lives in luxury and watches TV, but because the mother keeps losing work and working one temporary job after temporary job, she demands things too much and refuses to give Kahili even one cent. Now he lives with Calypso in a top floor apartment, and she’s seriously trying to keep her place.
The Common Mistakes We All Make
1. We tend to shelter disabled children and adults whether we realize it or not.
2. We think disabled people should never have sex or have families. It scares us all. Right?
3. We think of disabled children as less than our other children, and the disabled adults are to us the scum of the earth whether we realize it or not.
4. We sometimes exploit our disabled relatives because, well, we know in our stupid ignorant minds that they won’t even be cognitively aware that we just swiped $700 from their account. Right?
5. We prey on disabled women and men alike, nobody is exempt from being preyed upon in that community.
6. We rob the disabled of their dignity. We tell them who to see, what to do, with whom to live.
7. We often forget that disabled people are people, not animals. We can’t forget this.
How can we remedy these mistakes?
1. Parents must remember that all people, disabled or otherwise, should know about every aspect of life.
2. All adults in our lives should know that we’re people too, and we have loves and feelings too, so we can also have access to birth control, all that stuff.
3. We can all read or write, so why rely on somebody when there’s tech out there to help?
4. Government and nongovernmental agencies can best serve us by realizing we hve voice boxes and can talk. I oftentimes make the mistake of speaking for Kahili but you know, he is a soft spoken young man. We’re a bit confused about settling in this new place, but yeah.