Do disabled people’s own attitudes make them disabled?


I have always been a big believer that “can’t” is not a word, certainly in my world. My life has been an endless series of problems to be solved, both large and small, and in one way or another, I have managed to solve everyone of them. And here I hear the cries of ‘how lucky and fortunate I am’, from those who wish to dismiss my positive attitude as something special that only a minority of people, especially ‘disabled’ people, can have.

Let’s get a few things straight here and now. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I was instead written off by the doctors at birth as a cabbage. I have endlessly fought the system to get a decent mainstream education, to have the funding to employ my own personal assistants, and to make the contribution I have without the salary my non-disabled peers receive for the same work I do. I do not contribute to the Huffington Post because I am somehow privileged, but simply because I asked, after another contributor made an implied remark aimed at me, and I then made the most of the opportunity provided to me, in the manner I have always done.

I do not allow people to get away with discriminating me, and I stand up for what I believe in. I also feel I understand who I am and where I exist, in a way many people have not thought about, especially in terms of my emotional awareness. I do not feel disabled, although I know I have impairments, and I see disability as a hat, or rather helmet, I need to wear outside the comfort of my home as a tool to getting things done. I have always understood I had a platinum card when it came to the advantages of being label disabled!

While I can say I understand most people in many ways are not like me in terms of being positive, deep down I do not understand why people can not share my positive attitude to their situations. If I could understand what makes me positive, I would bottle it and make a fortune mass producing it, and in many ways, this has always been my aim. If I and other positive disabled people, as I am not as alone as some people wish I was, can support more disabled people to have a more positive attitude, what a wonderful place our world could be?!

The problem is many organisations support disabled people are dependent on dependency, and unwilling to support people to be empowered to no longer need their support, as the financial culture of the third sector discourages success. This means that freeing disabled people from their own disabling attitudes requires a new way of motivating them, and supporting them to be empowered as individuals. But the power of individualism deeply threatens the establishment that relies upon disabled people feeling disabled, including many so-called disability campaigners and activists locked into the culture of collectivism.

While I can try to sympathise with the difficulties other people face, and accept that this is justification for just giving up and being a victim, I don’t and I won’t. While it may be deeply buried inside people, I strongly believe everyone has the ability to feel positive and not be disabled by their own attitudes. So how do we help people find their positive side?

– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74

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