The other day I was chatting by Social media, private messaging, with an old school friend. We had live together at Regency Park Centre for a few years in our youths. We haven’t seen each other since high school yet a few months ago we started messaging and chatting together. It has been good to catch up on their news. They have been living in another state for many years.
Seeing a post of theirs, I was concerned for their welfare, so I messaged to check up on them. They ensured me that they were ok yet, they said that they were frustrated by the agency that provides their support workers. They said it felt like being back at Regency Park Centre. Although, we acknowledge that living in the centre wasn’t too bad, she didn’t like the lack of privacy, with staff knowing your every move. I tried to encourage them to do something about their support agency, as a key part of the NDIS is to empower people with disabilities to make choices about how they live they life. I suggested they could try talking to a person at the agency or seek an alternative service.
Then my friend made an interesting statement, “I don’t want to be a part of the disability community.” I could understand where they were coming from. When I was a child and into my young adulthood, the last thing I wanted to do is to be associated with others with disabilities. I wanted to be my own person. This statement of my friend made me think. Growing up within Regency with most of my peers having disabilities I did sense continue judgement from them. We were all kids, who were all trying to fit into the “normal” that we had been set apart from because of our physical disabilities.
During my adult years, I have been able to be a part of various sectors of the disability community and have found acceptance and understanding to various degrees within them. Attending the International Ablympics in Perth, in 1995, showed me that there can be real joy in hanging with others with disabilities. Going to disability focused conferences, such AGOSCI and ISAAC, has helped me to become more comfortable within the disability community. With saying that, there is definitely a hierarchy of power within the disability community that’s based on the type of disabilities ones has.
I might come back to this over the next week or so.