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Language Log

Friday, Jun. 14, 2019 - 8:14 a.m.

The visit has been fine. Had a nice time at the children’s museum, then U and E went with J and his dad to a baseball game and seemed to have a fine time.

Tomorrow we get back on the road again. We’re skipping Bloomington after all...we agree that while we’d love to be there for a week or a month, one afternoon would be more frustrating than anything.

This silly t-shirt mend I posted on IG must have been blessed by the gods of the algorithm and gotten a turn on the front page or something because it keeps getting likes from people completely unconnected to me— like, almost 200. Few profile views and no new followers to show for it. Weird. Well, glad people like my tshirt I guess.

Surprisingly long digression:
I think living independently is a western culture criterion for worthwhile and fulfilling life that should be yeeted without further adieu. MIL and I discussing autism and other disabilities...she tried to throw a pity party for their cleaners who have 3- autistic children in their family. “The oldest is still in diapers! She doesn’t communicate at all! Her mother said she would love nothing more than to hear her say “mama”!”

Waaahhhh cry me a River, Autism Mom.
Of course these folks don’t have access to anything other than that narrative. And I do have compassion for them. Their challenges are a level or two up from mine. I’m really privileged in comparison. Just a sign of how much work there is to be done.

I was trying to stress that verbal ability and toilet use aren’t necessarily that tightly correlated with intellectual ability. When you don’t assume competence you deny people opportunities to thrive.

But it kept coming up...this or that person ”never able to live independently”...the relative with Downs Syndrome who “his parents will always have to take care of him, and when they’re gone, his brothers”. And it’s sad that siblings depending on each other is considered a burden. What if it was expected, to some degree? How much more comfortable would everyone be admitting when they need some kind of help/interdependence? Why not focus on what disabled individuals bring to the table instead (and not in an inspoporn, consolation prize sort of way— not, “well, EVEN THOUGH she has an intellectual disability she is very helpful and kind, isn’t that wonderful that she isn’t a shitty human even though her speech isn’t totally clear?!” Just yeah, she’s helpful and kind. Also, if you must know, she lives with a lot of supports.

I mean, I don’t want my kids living with me forever either (because I too have been socialized to value independence and it isn’t that easy to shake that value) but the measuring stick should be whether that person is living their best possible life. “Independence” may or may not be a part of that. If they want it and would thrive under those conditions, as is the statistical norm, sure. Work toward it.

I’m just really over cultural narratives that pity caregivers and place one’s ability to earn wages at the center of one’s value as a human.

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