Ableist Comments and My Responses

As someone with a variety of health conditions, I feel like it’s about time that I tell you some of the terrible comments I’ve had and why they’re wrong:

Staring with Mental Health, going into Neurodivergency and Neurological conditions, then support needs:

Just calm down.

Anxiety / Generalised Anxiety Disorder / Mental Health Condition

Besides the trauma that I’ve faced, leading to an abundance of adrenaline in my system – even if I could calm down, you shouting “just calm down” isn’t going to let me calm down.

Just smile.

Depression / Depressive Episodes / Mental Health Condition

child with a fake mouth

Once again, a chemical imbalance. I’m sorry that my depressive episode/clinical depression is inconvenient for you. Smiling can help people who feel down or sad but for those of us diagnosed with a literal chemical imbalance in our brains… Smiling doesn’t change the chemical imbalance; the serotonin boost is so minimal that – at best – it might lessen the depression but won’t make us happy.

I’m a bit OCD too.

OCD / Obsessive Compulsive Disorder / Mental Health Condition

dust pan and brush

You also get intrusive thoughts about whether your scissors are sharp enough to cut your fingers off?  No, you’re just fussy with how you want your desk to look or your kitchen to be cleaned.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – not Obsessive Cleaning Disorder.
OCD isn’t a quirky, fun little cleaning mental health condition. It’s a condition that causes intrusive thoughts, poor sleep, and habits that – if not done – can cause severe panic attacks. Many OCD sufferers don’t even have cleaning as a central part of their OCD…

Just eat normally.

Bulimia / Bulimia Nervosa / Eating Disorder

Easy to say when you have a good relationship with food. But as someone who binged then purged for thirteen years… It’s not that easy.
After year three, I was involuntarily sick every time I binged – as if my body was programmed to do it on demand. And even when I tried to get the binging under control, trying to eat a normal amount of food is impossible when you no longer know what is normal for you – because everyone has different nutritional needs. 

Just be on time.

ADHD / Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder / Neurodivergency

white clock

ADHDers suffer from Time Blindness – we get engrossed in whatever we’re doing, and time flies by whether we like it or not. Telling us to just be on time is like telling a bus company to just be on time, no matter the traffic, accidents, or road works in the way.

You don’t look Autistic.

ASD / Autism Spectrum Disorder / Neurodivergency

woman behind glass items

People say this a lot when they find out that I’m Autistic, and apparently, it’s common for Neurotypicals to say. So, let’s unpack it. 
Firstly: what neurotypicals mean by this is – we don’t look like a high-support Autistic [someone who has low mental capacity and requires 24-hour care/assistance].
Secondly: only 1 in 5 Autistics are considered to need high-support. So, why would I look like a high-support Autistic when I’m low-support? Suggesting that all Autistics should look and act like the smallest minority of Autistic people is incredibly ignorant.
The majority of Autistic individuals are low-support – a total of 54%. That doesn’t mean we don’t need support or are smarter or better than high-support and medium-support Autistics, but to think Autism only looks a certain way is ableist.

FND is all in your head.

FND / Functional Neurological Disorder / Neurological Condition

human brain anatomical model on a plate

Only in the same way that Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Epilepsy are all in someone’s head.
There is a large misconception that FND is a psychological condition, and that’s just not true. It’s a myth that has been busted over the past twenty to thirty years.  FND is a Neurological Condition – like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Epilepsy. Neurological conditions can and do cause physical symptoms. 
Alzheimer’s allows for complications leading to physical symptoms due to infections.
Parkinson’s causes pain, stiffness, sleep problems, and tremors.
Epilepsy causes seizures – limb stiffness, jerking, losing awareness, and collapsing. 
FND causes seizures, paralysis, and pain – among many other symptoms.
And, yes, these symptoms can be worsened by psychological conditions and symptoms – but so can Epileptic seizures. 

But you can usually hear what I’m saying.

Deaf / Hard of Hearing

a grayscale photo of a woman in hearing position of her hands

I am hard of hearing – on top of my auditory processing issues accompanying my Autism – so when you’re talking to me, I will only be able to hear you if I can see you talking. 
If you’re mumbling, and I’m not looking at you, I’m unlikely to hear you – for two reasons:

  1. I can’t hear you when you’re mumbling since that frequency is out of my hearing zone.
  2. I can’t lip-read if I’m not looking at you.

You shouldn’t use a wheelchair if you can walk.

Ambulatory Wheelchair User – someone who isn’t always in a wheelchair.

woman in orange tank top sitting on black wheelchair

There are hundreds of reasons for someone to use a wheelchair, and paralysis is just one. I’m an ambulatory wheelchair user – I use my chair due to severe pain and fatigue. It’s also the easiest way to keep myself safe by strapping myself in so I don’t collapse and hurt myself during a seizure. And let’s not forget the regular limb paralysis that comes with my major seizures – which happen up to 10 times a day.
Wheelchairs are mobility aids – in the same way, a walking stick is a mobility aid. Mobility aids are used to be mobile, whether by relieving pain, assisting balance and fatigue, or allowing movement for a paralysed individual.
In other words – if you see someone in a wheelchair move their legs, don’t instinctively HIT THEIR LEGS TO TEST IF THEY CAN FEEL IT [this is something that happened to me, in public, on a bus].

I could make another ten points for my conditions and requirements, but honestly – I don’t have the energy. 

If you want to hear more about this kind of stuff, but for a specific condition of mine (ADHD, Alopecia, Anxiety, Autism, Depression, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, FND, Hard of Hearing, OCD), let me know! Because I could do so much more.

If you’ve ever had this kind of ableism flung at you, I want to remind you that you survived it, and I’m proud of you. And if you want to share what ignorance was thrown at you, let me know in the comments below. 

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