Anyone who lives life with a disability understands isolation. Whether you have a disability or love someone with a disability, it seems like isolation is a part of life.
But what I find most troubling is when individuals within the disability community ostracize others because of the type of disability they may have.
There are groups (agencies, Facebook groups, support groups) who don’t allow people with other disability labels to be a part of their conversation. You can only join if you have the right diagnosis.
Some loudly advocate to legislators specifically on behalf of individuals with a specific diagnosis. Therefore, any gains made only benefit that specific group of people. But those gains could benefit all of us.
There are playgroups just for kids with a specific diagnosis. Others are not welcomed.
There are people who dismiss others because they have different values than they do or use different language. Some shut others out because they make different life-choices for their loved one.
I have been the victim of others in the disability community many times. My membership in Facebook groups has been denied because I couldn’t prove my daughter’s diagnosis. I have been unwelcomed at different training opportunities because we have the wrong “label” for admission.
I understand needing a safe place to air your concerns. I can relate to wanting to hang with other people who understand your struggles. But in my experience, most parents face the same struggles as do our children. So, the specific disability really doesn’t matter.
But as a mom of children with disabilities, I make this plea to families in the disability community: Can we please welcome all? Can we, of all people who understand isolation and segregation, be open to everyone? Can we be the ones who always say, “Yes!” when others want to join?
To the family with a different diagnosis: Come on in! To the person who wants to join our conversation: You are welcome! To the parent seeking answers and friendship: I’m glad you’re here. To the person who has a different chromosomal makeup: Yes, learn with us. To the other families fighting for change: Let’s do it together!
If we want to make change in our world, we must be united and together. If we want to improve the lives of all families living with disability, we need to welcome all. Families with a child with a disability should understand better than anyone how important it is to be welcomed and allowed in.
Let’s not further isolate each other. Let’s not further segregate within this community that is already highly segregated from society. Let's be one together.
Learn more about Family Support resources on this site.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.