Thanks to Brooke Faison for sharing her thoughts on how important it is for society to change its view on people with disabilities.
Why is it so important to accept people with disabilities?
I’ve grown up with an older sister named Brittany who has autism, and I’ve never thought anything of it. I loved her for who she was, and her mannerisms were always completely normal to me. But I learned from a very young age that she wasn’t viewed as being “normal” by many other people.
Whenever I would go out in public with her, I noticed how people would always stare at her with weird looks. I noticed that so many people would look like they were scared of her. It was almost as if people did not see her as being a person which is not okay at all.
As a society, we need to start accepting people with disabilities. We need to not shoot horrified looks in the direction of people who might not be able to control the sounds that come out of their mouth or the way they move. We need to treat them like we treat our friends, as human beings. But even more, we need to take the time to get to know people with disabilities, not because we feel bad for them, but because we realize their worth. We need to see that each person, regardless of their level of ability, has a unique story and a unique perspective on the world.
I have learned so much from my sister, Brittany. She is the happiest person I know, and I have had the opportunity to learn from her what happiness can look like and how not to care what other people think of you. Because of her, I am a much better person.
As the co-coordinator of Special Olympics, I am able to help bridge the gap between those with disabilities and those without. I feel lucky to be able to help address the misconceptions that exist. I encourage you all to learn more and rethink the way you view those with disabilities.