An odd experience today. To understand this, you need to know that I don’t have a visible disability. You would never guess I’m disabled or even sick, unless you saw my insulin pump. Even then you would wonder how diabetes can be disabling. I get it. You can’t see the hundreds of little ways my life has been affected by illness. And, since I don’t wear a flashing neon sign either looks can be deceiving.
Today, a stranger wanted to know why I had a service dog. Not being in the mood to disclose information, I answered because my dog mitigates my disabilities. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have used the word mitigate. It confuses people. The next words were “You can’t be disabled. My cousin is disabled and she doesn’t look like you.” I sure hope not. I have many cousins, but none live near me. There is absolutely no way this woman’s cousin could be related to me.
And I said as much. A bit snarky, I admit. I am tired of people thinking all disabilities “look” alike. Please, tell me what a diabetic looks like. Tell me what someone with vascular disorders looks like. Tell me what someone who can’t eat looks like. Tell me what someone with PTSD looks like. Tell me what someone with Autism looks like. Yeah, you can’t. Because we are not our disabilities. We are people who look just like you.