Susan's Blog

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Unnatural Selection

Got into an interesting discussion with Max yesterday, about South African amputee runner Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius is aiming to get into the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, even though the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) is seeking to ban him because of his prosthetic super legs. They are actually just well-made prosthetics, that he has learned how to master to a great effect. His time is already at the level of Olympic women runners. He is very close to the men’s records. Dose Bastards, as my grandma would have said. The Body Impolitic is a blog I love to read, and they present a very good discussion of this topic, the concept of what is natural and what is normal.

Max’s opinion was that the IAAF needed to have standards of what sort of prostheses were kosher in the Olympics. He thought that Pistorius’ legs should be allowed, but that there was this new Japanese exoskeleton product that was so powerful that it would make someone into kind of a superman were they to adapt it to one’s legs, and so something like that should be banned. We talked about chemical enhancements as well: steroids versus SSRIs. What if, I aksed, someone took an SSRI to brighten their mood so that they could perform really at their best? Is that different from taking a steroid? What about the beauty contestant who uses surgery to enhance her natural appearance? Should that be allowed? Where do you draw the line? False eyelashes vs. false breasts? Hair extensions? Makeup?

Of course I started to think about other disabilities and how they were or were not accommodated. Why is it that the law requires the construction of ramps so that physical disabled people can get into places and participate in activities, but there is no requirement to provide Nat with an aide so that he can participate in activities? I have often chafed at the sign that says, “handicap accessible,” in a movie theatre because I feel that, NO, it is NOT accessible to Natty, who needs to make noise to feel comfortable but would be scorned were he to do that in a theatre.

Where do I start in fixing this unfair, mixed-up world of ours?


The sign should read, “wheelchair accessible”. “Handicap should be a word from the past.

— added by Anonymous on Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 11:30 am

Fixing the world is not something that you are going to be able to do Susan – you can teach and inform but you cannot change people that don’t want to be changed. This year my son’s teacher has taught me that rather painful lesson…

I have just recently started calling my son’s autism a disability. I personally do not see it as a disability but for people that don’t deal with autism that is the only way that they understand. Do I like to do that? No way. He is not disabled just as many people are not disabled even though they are not ‘able’.

I was going to say something here about my cousin who lost his legs in an accident but I decided to delete it. He thinks my son’s autism is a bigger issue then having to strap on some legs to wear a pair of jeans and fit in with the crowd.

Recently our government cut funding for many student jobs this summer. Who lost out the most? Kids with disabilities including the autism camp run in a nearby city. They need $25,000 in about 4 weeks to be able to take all the kids that have applied because our government thought they could save a few bucks by taking away funding for organizations to hire students for a few weeks. Why do we continually have to fight? Do we need to cut off their right ears so that people with autism can be identified by the way they look? Maybe stick them in a wheelchair so that people will have some understanding?

I think that if someone has a cool set of well made legs and can control them and has mastered running with them they should be able to compete with them. Store bought boobs and a botox smile were not part of the original DNA – legs probably were…

And anonymous you are right – handicap should not be used at all anymore but I will tell you something, it is used quite a bit where I live. Wheelchair accessible is not all that correct either though because it doesn’t cover everyone with a disability. Only a small percentage of ‘disabled’ people are in a chair.

My daughter’s school has something called a ‘Diff-abilities’ fair every year where each of the almost 30 classes picks a topic and the class works as a team to learn and teach the other students. Last year she did autism and this year the class has chosen ADHD because a couple classmates have this disorder. Different abilities – pure and simple – that’s what its all about.

— added by lizziehoop on Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 3:33 pm

You are wrong! I like you but you are wrong. We can fix the world. Remember civil rights? Didn’t exist prior to the 60’s. Remember ADA/IDEA? 1970’s invention. We can and we do it every single day, every time we raise issues and talk to people about our kids.

— added by Susan Senator on Saturday, May 19, 2007 at 7:13 pm

“Wheelchair accessible” is a fact. The space can either accomodate a wheelchair or it cannot. People who use a wheelchair appreciate the “heads-up” with regard to “is my chair going to fit through this space or not”…hence the need for the sign “wheelchair accessible”.

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, May 20, 2007 at 9:34 am

PS to lizzihoop: people are not “in” a chair, they “use” the chair.

— added by Anonymous on Sunday, May 20, 2007 at 9:36 am

Susan, I hope you are right. I really hope you are right. The people I have had to deal with in the last few years have had me losing hope – in a big way. I know there is good out there and that there are understanding people and people willing to make a change and to lead others to change. I would love to be one of those people that had the ability to help change the world and maybe someday I can be but I have seen so much discrimination against my son in the last two years that I have stepped back from my earlier opinion – that the world can be changed. I haven’t always been so jaded about people and I don’t want to be like that anymore. It is just hard to see the good in everyone when the bad is thrown in your face every day.

I’ll come around I think – once summer is here and school is out. I guess I haven’t completely given up hope…

Anonymous – Sorry about that. I had a slip of the brain there. The first time I said it it was on purpose because I was speaking from the point of view of people that ‘don’t get it’ but the second time was purely a mistake in my choice of words. I’ll try to proofread a little better next time.

— added by lizziehoop on Sunday, May 20, 2007 at 1:05 pm