Author: Sheri Denkensohn
No, the caps lock did not get stuck on my keyboard. I meant to have the first 3 letters stand out. Why? Because I’ve had some experiences where I still shake my head over an assumption and it kind of makes the person who made the assumption seem like the rear end of a donkey.
I’ve been thinking about writing about this topic for a while, and I was moved to finally do so after reading a blog in the Huffington Post (from 2015, but still relevant). In the blog, the writer, an individual with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, relays to the reader that most people assume that his girlfriend is his caregiver. His name is Shane Burcaw and he has a book coming out at the end of April.
I know that some people have had limited exposure to people with disabilities, but why make an assumption like that? We are not freaks who don’t experience the joys of the human condition, like love and marriage.
On a trip to Richmond, VA, my husband Tony and I were checking into a hotel and we went up to our room in one elevator while the bellman (with our luggage) rode up in a separate elevator with my personal assistant. He delivered our baggage, but after he left the room, my assistant told us that he asked her if I was Tony’s mother. Yes, mother!!!! Not even sister!! My mouth was on the floor! Even though we all laughed, it really hurt to think that this person could not envision Tony and me in a loving relationship as husband and wife.
Honestly, I believe that he came to this conclusion because he could not conceive of the fact that two individuals in wheelchairs would be married to each other and not related in some other way. I don’t think he was a bad man, I just think that his experience and exposure to people with disabilities limited his own ability to envision a loving relationship between the two of us.
What is the solution? Quite frankly, I don’t think there is one except for the fact that I would encourage everyone to have a broad mind. Think and not assume. Believe that people of all shapes, sizes, colors and gender have loving relationships. And don’t make assumptions that are rooted in past societal norms and beliefs. If you do that, those 3 capitalized letters won’t apply to you.