Friday, August 7, 2015

This is not the first time - it never is

This is not the first time – it never is

[CW/TW: confinement, imprisonment, abuse, murder of disabled people below and at links]  

This incident in Georgia is not the first time disabled children have been imprisoned in cages in our lovely US of A, by the way. It is in fact rather distressing to think about, but here it is in a California school, a home in Toledo, Ohio. Also in Michigan. The two Rockville, MD twins locked in a basement. And worldwide, in Australia and Greece and elsewhere.

I think it's time for people to think about this. That when a disabled person is abused in some fashion, my reaction is of course horror. But my reaction also is “this is not the first time this has happened.” There are constant patterns of abuse of disabled people. I know someone (disabled) who at age six was locked in the freezing basement of their school for hours. We, the disabled, get locked in basements and cages, more often than you may think.

That scratches the surface of the various abuses; it does not cover the whole iceberg. But I will tell you something that I hope is obvious…. If you're not one of the people who reacts like I do, with knowing that the type of abuse has happened before: Members of society actively abuse disabled people. Others turn a blind eye. Sometimes it takes the disabled person, like Melissa Stoddard, dying for anyone to act on the knowledge that they had been abused. Members of society also actively excuse our deaths

And most of the time, disabled people are not respected in death. Jillian McCabe threw her six-year-old son, London McCabe, off a bridge in November 2014. An NBC article titled “Jillian McCabe was ‘Overwhelmed’ Before Autistic Son’s Fatal Plunge,” came out, discussing the burdens she was facing. It makes no mention in the headline that she threw him off the bridge to kill him. It justifies her reaction to his 2011 diagnosis of autism. The article goes on to quote a psychologist, Dee Shepherd-Look, “a professor at California State University, Northridge, as saying, “quite frankly, I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often. These children are really unable to be in a reciprocal relationship and the moms don’t really experience the love that comes back from a child — the bonding is mitigated… That is one of the most difficult things for mothers,” followed by saying autistic children can be “rigid and oppositional.”1

Does that go into the iceberg a little for you?

1 Susan Donaldson James and Cassandra Vinograd, “Jillian McCabe was ‘Overwhelmed’ Before Autistic Son’s Fatal Plunge,” NBC News. November 5, 2014. 

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