A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Her invisible disability

"but you don't.....
-A Perfect Circle

An invisible disability is considered an umbrella term to connote any disability that is "hidden". Most of these are primarily neurological in nature. It can be anything from epilepsy to bipolar disorder to ADHD and Autism (ever heard of it?). Basically, they're disabilities that can't be detected just by looking at a person. Early on in our journey people would say things like, "she doesn't look funny" or "you can't even tell...."  

Since it's not "obvious" by just looking at the bird (as long as she's not scripting talking or flapping spinning moving), some people don't get it and think she's just ignoring them or not listening or misbehaving. It's especially awesome when she walks up to a kid and squeezes their arm because she doesn't quite get "Hi, I'm the bird, let's play!" 

People with invisible disabilities are definitely treated differently and usually aren't given the amount of patience and tolerance they need. I feel like I often have to justify the bird's behavior so people understand she's not being a bratty, disrespectful kid (although....).

When we went to Disneyland last month, we used the ha-ha suckers special access pass to avoid long lines and meltdowns. As we entered the Mad Hatter's Tea Party (aka the vomit-inducing spinning teacups), a man shouted at me, "that's the exit! why don't you wait in the line like everyone else?!" I walked up to him and said, "yeah, ummm, we are with a child with a disability." Douchey Doucherstein replied, "oh, I'm sorry." "Yeah me, too, dude. Me too."

Here's my bird having a great spin on the teacups, completely oblivious to the d-bag behind her
It's an interesting dichotomy since I spend so much time and effort helping her reach her potential and blend in a little bit better. I do worry about people punishing her for not behaving the way they'd expect her to based on how she looks. Although, apparently D-bagitis is also an invisible disability and you can't really tell if someone has it just by looking at them. Unless, of course, their collar is popped and a huge medallion is swinging around their necks- and as soon as they open their mouths, it's totally obvious. 


Jen said...

We used the disability pass at Disney World. Loved it. We thankfully didn't have anyone be a d-bag about it, although one guy asked me where we got it, thinking it was some cool fast pass thing, and then he felt like a d-bag when I had to explain why we had it. Not as cool as he thought. We find that even telling people Katie has autism doesn't help sometimes. People just have no clue about it and still expect her to be totally normal. I also hate when I read fb statuses where people complain about some screaming kid in Target and how they would set them right, then tell me they KNEW the kid was just a brat and didn't have special needs. I can only imagine how many think that about K.

Heather said...

Great post Dani- I completely get it. Josh had Brian in the store the other day and he was crying, because he has become a hermit and hates to go anywhere but home and school. According to Josh there was one lady in particular who kept staring at them- I told him to look her straight in the eye and say "he has autism"- that usually embarrasses them enough to utter some sort of apology... but Jen (above) is right- sometimes even that explanation doesn't tell them anything if they have been hiding under a rock for the past decade.

dotcomkari said...

LOVE this post! love love love! I do not know how many times I have had people stop and stare at Kai during one of his melt downs thinking I just had a horrible kid without asking questions and talking behind my back. And the remarks from people when I tell them he has Autism , "but he doesn't look retarded" (yeah I love that one...). Yeah, people have no brains sometimes. Kai looks just like everyone else, hey he may even be cuter then some ! *giggle*.. and he just happens to have Autism..
Look past his little vocabualry, behavior issues, OCD with trucks and cars and other issues and you will see a little boy who just wants to be accepted and loved.


Oh and I did not know about that special pass thing at Disney! that is freakin cool! If we ever make it there with our 3 kiddos I will have to keep that in mind!

Cheryl D. said...

It's really sad actually. I don't think the have support groups or anything for people who are d-bags.

Big Daddy Autism said...

Griffin is almost always stimming and has an odd gait, so he is not really that invisible. But I know what you mean. Nobody would give someone in a wheelchair a hard time for using the disability pass at Disney.

We use that pass everytime we go and have never had a d-bag problem. Maybe because I am 300 pounds with a shaved head and a ton of tattoos?

Dani G said...

so you're saying I need to gain 200 pounds and shave my head??

Lynn said...

We are going to be fast-passing it up about a month from now..I will have to report back on any d-bagginess. You're right that the open shirt and medallion takes the invisible out of his disability.

Patty O. said...

This is so true. I have mentioned in the past that having a kid with an invisible disability definitely makes for some unique challenges. And it seems to bring out the douche bags in droves!

Big Daddy Autism said...

Wait! Popped collar, open shirt and medallion is d-baggish? Um, gotta repack for my Disney trip.

And, yes. Gain 200 pounds and shave your head. You will be amazed how the d-bags seem to keep their mouths shut.

JennieB said...

My friend needed a disabled person's parking sticker for a while, but she didn't "look" disabled. People often gave her a hard time about how she got the parking pass. Like it was their business. A-holes.

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