I wrote a post a while back about writing characters with disabilities. I said that in real life, disabled folks experience social violence regularly. In order to write realistic disabled characters, it’s important to write in social violence (and not…
It’s important to note that having been through child abuse is extremely likely (20% is a conservative estimate I’ve seen in some research). Writers should be aware of the effects of trauma, gaslighting and Stockholm Syndrome, which will all be intimately familiar to their disabled characters.
Also remember that many of us who cannot use service dogs - because no organization trains them for autistic adults, because we have traumatic memories of abuse that involved dogs and thus having one around all day would be self-defeating, etc. - are systematically disenfranchised by the fact that no one believes our service animals are trained, uniquely necessary for our needs vs other members of their species, necessary at all, or autonomous creatures with the right not to be arbitrarily violated.
For example, i cannot bring my service rats on commercial transit because there’s no enforcement of disability rights and the bus driver can just say “i don’t think so”, and boom, wedding trip canceled. So i can only travel long distances compromised. Not to mention that i can’t bring some of the medicine i use to accomplish a basic level of functioning, on an airplane, due to archaic federal and international laws. So disabled characters should not be written as cheerily breezing through your travel scenes, unless you explain how your world is different in this area.
Returning to service animals; some ‘normal’ people are always out to prove we’re not really disabled for their political project, which may involve advocating that people on disability rolls lose the right to vote. One disturbing image and attached thread going around tumblr from a contemporary US town shows a cowardly threat from a Tea Party group tacked to a tree, saying they would expose the names and addresses of people receiving disability payments, imploring “the community” to decide for themselves if they were really disabled and implying that they shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Aware that we’ll inevitably encounter someone with that much disregard for my dignity and autonomy, it’s hard to justify regularly subjecting my service rats to the risk that the person will try to throw them to some horrible fate, especially as i show more visible signs of disability.
We live these kinds of impossible choices every day, weighing lethal risks against things that will harm our health.