antiskills

You can do more when you remember that you’re disabled.

People with disabilities are often taught the anti-skill of pretending to ourselves and others that we have no disability-related limitations.

Most people (disabled or otherwise) have the related anti-skill of assuming that everyone present has pretty much the same physical and cognitive abilities. (Or, in other words, that no one present has a disability that significantly affects physical or cognitive functioning.) This often leads to the assumption that people who aren’t doing a task either haven’t been told what to do, or aren’t sufficiently motivated to do it.

These two anti-skills can make it very, very hard to solve problems when something goes wrong for disability-related reasons.

This kind of conversation tends to happen a lot:

  • Someone: You need to do the thing.
  • Disabled person: I’m having trouble with the thing.
  • Someone: “Can’t you just do the thing this way that sounds reasonable but is actually impossible for you?”
  • Disabled person: “You’re telling me it’s possible in tones of absolute conviction and are making me forget that I won’t be able to do it that way. Ok, I’ll do the thing from now on.”
  • The disabled person, predictably, fails to do the impossible thing.
  • Someone with an entirely reasonable need for the thing to get done: Why didn’t you do the thing?!
  • Disabled person: I don’t know. I’m sorry, I’ll try harder, I’ll do it from now on.
  • This, predictably, doesn’t work either. 
  • The task doesn’t get done, because it’s impossible to do things that way.
  • In these situations, disability is neither acknowledged nor accommodated, and things end badly for everyone.

Or, to give a less abstract example:

  • Aubrey has severe ADHD. She’s been fired from several jobs for failing to keep track of things and missing key deadlines, and she’s on thin ice at her current position. Blair, Aubrey’s boss, is running out of patience for the problems caused by Aubrey’s overdue work.
  • Blair: Aubrey, you’ve missed several deadlines, and it’s causing serious problems for the team. What’s going on?
  • Aubrey: I’m having trouble keeping track of everything.
  • Blair: Most of us here use to-do lists on our cubicle whiteboards. I’ve noticed you don’t have a to-do list on your whiteboard. Can you do that from now on?
  • Aubrey (who has never, ever used a to-do list successfully): Ok, I’ll start using a marker board and meet my deadlines from now on.
  • Blair believes that everyone can use to-do lists, and has never thought of the possibility that anyone might not be able to.
  • Blair is making a suggestion that from his perspective is completely reasonable and possible. 
  • Aubrey responds to Blair’s certainty, and forgets that her limitations will prevent that from working for her. 
  • She believes, in the moment, that if she tries hard and takes enough responsibility, she’ll be able to use the to-do list and meet her deadlines this time. 
  • Even though that’s never worked before, and there’s no real reason to believe that it will work any better this time.
  • Trying hard doesn’t make disability go away, and it doesn’t make impossible things possible.
  • Aubrey, predictably, fails to use the marker board, because that strategy doesn’t work for her. And she, predictably, gets fired, because the tasks need to get done and she’s not doing them.
  • From Blair’s perspective, Audrey was given a lot of patience, guidance, and multiple chances.
  • Blair has a legitimate need for the work to get done.
  • This is probably going to keep happening, so long as Audrey tries to rely on willpower to solve problems rather than honest assessment of her capabilities.

When others expect us to do impossible things, it can be hard to remember that they are impossible. Particularly if we’re told that they’re easy or that everyone can do them. Especially if we are surrounded by people who are successfully doing the thing.

All of this can be very disorienting, especially if someone whose opinion we care about is angry or disappointed. It can be surprisingly difficult to keep in mind that disability is real.

It’s also crucially important. Agreeing to do something impossible that “everyone” can do doesn’t magically give us the ability to do it. It just sets us up for failure.

We are all much better off if we face reality and spend time doing things that are possible. Everyone else does. It’s well-known that expecting people to do impossible things is counterproductive and demoralizing. Only exceptionally unreasonable employers expect people to lift 300lbs, sprout wings and fly, turn lead into gold, or decrypt 128-bit encryption keys in their heads.

It’s just as unreasonable to expect disabled people to do things that our impairments make impossible. One limitation we share with everyone is that pretending that something is possible won’t make it possible. We are much better off acknowledging reality, working with our brains and bodies rather than against them.

This is hard. Remembering the truth often requires us to fight through shame and disorientation, or to violate serious taboos. No one succeeds at this 100% at the time, but it does get easier with practice. It’s also really, really worth it.

Whenever you are able to stop trying to do an impossible thing through sheer force of will, it makes it more possible to do things. You don’t have to overcome disability to do things that matter. You just have to find things to do that are actually possible, with the abilities you actually have. The things that you really can do are worth doing.

Honesty

When you’re teaching vulnerable kids social skills, it’s important to tell the truth.

They need skills for living in the world as it is, not as you would like it to be.

For instance: If you teach them to walk away from bullies, you have to tell them that sometimes bullies will follow them.

If you teach them to tell an adult, you have to teach them that sometimes the adult won’t care, or will take the bully’s side, or will tell them to stop tattling.

If you teach them to say “That hurts my feelings!”, you have to teach them that some bullies will laugh at them.

If you don’t teach kids that, when those things happen, they will think it is their fault. Or they will think that you don’t care. Either way, they’re not likely to be able to come to you for further support.

It’s much better to admit that your answers are imperfect. It’s much better to admit when you don’t know how to help. It’s much better if you can listen.

Sometimes the best thing you can say is “I’m sorry that people are being so mean to you. Do you want to talk about it?" 

00goddess:

Nonviolent Communication can hurt people

loriadorable:

agent-hardass:

realsocialskills:

People who struggle interpersonally, who seem unhappy, or who get into a lot of conflicts are often advised to adopt the approach of Nonviolent Communication.

This is often not a good idea. Nonviolent Communication is an approach based on refraining…

agent-hardass said:

Holy shit thank you. Someone finally said it.

00goddess said:

Dear God yes.

When I was in foster care as a teen, we were given therapy and “boundaries” and “communication rules” that (I eventually learned, as an adult) were based on NVC. There was a huge focus on “I statements.” We were literally forbidden to speak in any other way, and punished if we did so.

What no one told any of us, all foster kids with histories of abuse, neglect, or both, was that “I statements” don’t mean a damn thing or have any effect at all when the other party is either not reasonable, or downright abusive. No, they just trained us with what the author at realsocialskills very aptly calls “anti-skills” and tossed us out into the world.

NVC *crippled* me emotionally and socially. It made me even more vulnerable to abusive situations. Why? Because I had been trained, indoctrinated even, for more than two years to not ever hold anyone responsible for their bad behavior or call them out on it. So when I found myself in abusive situations, I would step right up and use my “I statements” and then when this was not effective, I would do that same thing again, and again. I was not taught any other relationship skills. NVC taught me that in any conflict, I had to figure out what *I* was doing wrong and fix that somehow. It never taught me that some people don’t respond to “I statements” by changing their bad behavior because they don’t actually care if they are hurting you, or they might even like it. It never taught me that I didn’t actually have to stick around when someone was being abusive.

In the very abusive group home and foster org in which I was placed, NVC functioned as a tool that staff used to marginalize, manipulate, gaslight, and control us. NVC did not teach us how to spot those things when they were happening, of course, because the org and the staff had an interest in keeping us marginalized, rather than in raising us to be empowered.

kyraneko:

realsocialskills:

angelrat:

Nonviolent Communication can hurt people

foxship:

agent-hardass:

realsocialskills:

People who struggle interpersonally, who seem unhappy, or who get into a lot of conflicts are often advised to adopt the approach of Nonviolent Communication.

This is often not a good idea. Nonviolent Communication is an approach…

angelrat said:

It’s also not much help if you’re being bullied. It’s like the “stop it, I don’t like it” technique that children are advised to use … the obvious response from the bully is “good, objective attained, I’ll do that again now I know you don’t like it”. I have never seen the sense in “stop it, I don’t like it” as the entire point of the bullying behaviour is to do something the other person does not like.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, exactly. I’ve been trying to write some posts for ages about why it’s wrong to teach kids strategies like that. It’s - it’s not ok to make yourself feel better about the world by teaching vulnerable people things you wish were true. They need to know how things actually work so that they can protect themselves rather than walking into greater danger.

kyraneko said:

Thank you. Openly and honestly telling kids that bullies exist and the official authorities are rarely much good at stopping them (and sometimes are bullies themselves), and then teaching them how bullies function, and then letting the kids use their own understanding of their situations to decide what to do, would work so much better than all these adultsplaining how-to’s that pretend bullies are an occasional bother with no official support that are only bullying you because you haven’t really communicated to them that it’s hurtful to you …

You make kids stronger and more resiliant to bullying by telling them that they matter with actions as well as words. You teach them that they deserve better than to be bullied by interfering with the bullying of them that you witness, and believing them about the bullying you don’t witness, and giving them whatever tools they need to defend themselves when you’re not around to do it for them.

Authorities often refrain from interfering with bullying because “they’ve got to learn to defend themselves,” but no one tells an airplane that since it has wings, it doesn’t need a runway because “you’ve got to learn to fly on your own.” And it only gets worse when they engage in such distortion of reality to make dealing with bullies sound like such an easy thing. The victim goes out with the wrong information, fails, and then gets chided for hir lack of success at such an “easy” task, while the authority figure goes on blissfully believing the world is that simple and that the problem will be fixed once her wayward charge “gets it” and makes the bully stop by “standing up for hirself” in the approved nonviolent fashion, which will totally work once it gets around to happening. No hurry.

Fuck that. Get the kid an understanding of how bullies work and how the rest of the world works, sparing no illusion about teachers who make excuses to let bullies bully or punish their victims instead, and then let the kid decide what’s the best course of action to take.

angelrat:

Nonviolent Communication can hurt people

foxship:

agent-hardass:

realsocialskills:

People who struggle interpersonally, who seem unhappy, or who get into a lot of conflicts are often advised to adopt the approach of Nonviolent Communication.

This is often not a good idea. Nonviolent Communication is an approach…

angelrat said:

It’s also not much help if you’re being bullied. It’s like the “stop it, I don’t like it” technique that children are advised to use … the obvious response from the bully is “good, objective attained, I’ll do that again now I know you don’t like it”. I have never seen the sense in “stop it, I don’t like it” as the entire point of the bullying behaviour is to do something the other person does not like.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, exactly. I’ve been trying to write some posts for ages about why it’s wrong to teach kids strategies like that. It’s - it’s not ok to make yourself feel better about the world by teaching vulnerable people things you wish were true. They need to know how things actually work so that they can protect themselves rather than walking into greater danger.

dephinia:

Stop romanticizing neurotypicality

realsocialskills:

When I hear people, autistic or otherwise, talk about autistic social difficulties, they often say things along the lines of:

  • “You and I just know all of these rules intuitively, but people with autism find them mysterious and have to learn them explicitly”
  • “All of these rules that you…

dephinia said:

A lot of neurotypical people also wind up learning social anti-skills, like passive/covert aggression, by learning them from other people, as we typically learn social skills – or disingenuousness, manipulation, impulsiveness, and treating others as unequal. These can all be passed along in the same way as social skills and can be subtle enough and effective enough in the short term of achieving the desired results that they can seem like social skills. I’ve been in groups that normalize poor social skills, relational aggression, and discrimination, and it can be hard to learn and practice better skills in those situations.

It pays to pay attention to what you’ve picked up, and make your own choices about how you want to treat others, and then practice skills that reflect those choices. Everyone can benefit from learning more about interaction, where it goes wrong and how it can work better for everyone. One of the many reasons why I so appreciate realsocialskills and Captain Awkward.

Other resources I like are Dialectical Behavioral Therapy’s interpersonal effectiveness module, the Non-Violent Communication module, and Suzette Haden Elgin’s books on the gentle art of verbal self defense. These have at their core assertiveness and respect for self and others, something the whole world needs more of.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, neurotypical people can definitely end up learning anti-skills. Particularly it they are gay, trans, disabled, poor, people of color, or women. Particularly if they are several of those things. But even if they’re not any of those things. Life is complicated, and there are many ways people can end up acquiring anti-skills.

That said, I would advise extreme caution with Non-Violent Communication. Non-violent communication is often harmful to marginalized people or abuse survivors, and it can teach powerful people to abuse their power more than they had previously. Non-Violent Communication has strategies that can be helpful in some situations, but it also teaches a lot of anti-skills that can undermine the ability to survive and fight injustice and abuse.

For marginalized or abused people, being judgmental is a necessary survival skill. Sometimes it’s not enough to say "when you call me slurs, I feel humiliated” - particularly if the other person doesn’t care about hurting you or actually wants to hurt you. Sometimes you have to say “The word you called me is a slur. It’s not ok to call me slurs. Stop.” Sometimes you have to say to yourself “I’m ok, they’re mean.

You can’t protect yourself from people who mean you harm without judging them. Non-violent communication works when people are hurting each other by accident; it only works when everyone means well. It doesn’t have responses that work when people are hurting others on purpose or without caring about damage they do. Which, if you’re marginalized or abused, happens several times a day. NVC does not have a framework for acknowledging this or responding to it.

NVC also values saying things in a really specific way very highly, and judges people less on the content of what they’re saying than how they are saying it. And generally, abusers and cluelessly powerful people are much better at using NVC language than people who are actively being hurt. When you’re just messing with someone’s head or protecting your own right to do so, it’s easy to phrase things correctly. When someone is abusing you and you’re trying to explain what’s wrong, and you’re actively terrified, it’s much, much harder to phrase things in I-statements that take an acceptable tone.

Further, there is *always* a way to take issue with the way someone phrased something. It’s really easy to make something that’s really about shutting someone up look like a concern about the way they’re using language, or advice on how to communicate better. Every group I’ve seen that valued this type of language highly ended up nitpicking the language of the least popular person in the group as a way of shutting them up.

tl;dr Be careful with Nonviolent Communication. It has some merits, but it is not the complete solution to conflict or communication that it presents itself as.

Toward A Behavior of Reciprocity -- Morton Ann Gernsbacher (2006)

youneedacat:

This is the article by Morton Gernsbacher that references that teaching nonautistic children social skills improves autistic children’s social skills better than teaching autistic children social skills.  And other very interesting stuff along those lines.  This is one of my favorite of her examples of how everything we think we know about autism is wrong.

The link to the article is a PDF file.  I’ll paste the abstract below:

Abstract: Toward a Behavior of Reciprocity

GERNSBACHER, M. A. (2006). Toward a behavior of reciprocity. Journal of Developmental Processes, 1, 139-152.

It is frequently believed that autism is characterized by a lack of social or emotional reciprocity. In this article, I question that assumption by demonstrating how many professionals—researchers and clinicians—and likewise many parents, have neglected the true meaning of reciprocity. Reciprocity is “a relation of mutual dependence or action or influence,” or “a mode of exchange in which transactions take place between individuals who are symmetrically placed.” Assumptions by clinicians and researchers suggest that they have forgotten that reciprocity needs to be mutual and symmetrical—that reciprocity
is a two-way street. Research is reviewed to illustrate that when professionals, peers, and parents are taught to act reciprocally, autistic children become more responsive. In one randomized clinical trial of “reciprocity training” to parents, their autistic children’s language developed rapidly and their social engagement increased markedly. Other demonstrations of how parents and professionals can increase their behavior of reciprocity are provided.

Stop blaming teenage girls for body image problems

As kids raised as girls grow up, they get tremendous pressure from almost everyone to fight their bodies: 

  • They get pressure to diet (“You don’t really need that cake, do you?” “Why don’t you start coming to Weight Watchers with me?”)
  • They get pressured to exercise to stay thin, but to avoid growing visible muscles
  • They get pressured to dress within a very narrow range
  • Show too little of your body and you get tons of ~helpful~ suggestions both from peers and adults about how to be more attractive/presentable/adult
  • Show too much, and everyone tells you that you have no self respect (and treat you as though you deserve none)
  • They get pressured to wear makeup and to have time consuming hairstyles (“You’d be so pretty!”)
  • But, at the same time, wear too much makeup or the wrong makeup, and people (including parents and other adults) will react with disgust

Some well meaning people have discovered that girls often feel bad about their bodies, and sometimes develop related eating disorders. They often address it in a counterproductive way:

  • They lecture teenage girls about body image
  • And they tell them to feel good about themselves
  • In a way that suggests that it’s their own fault they don’t
  • And that they’re just being shallow by worrying about their makeup, weight, skin, hair, and clothing. Because “true beauty is on the inside, not the outside” and “there’s more to life than beauty”
  • Or they attribute girls’ body image to peer pressure, while ignoring all the things adults do that make girls feel bad about their bodies (eg: if you talk about girls pressuring girls to wear short skirts, but not principals who scornfully send them home, you’re missing the point. If you talk about pressure from teen beauty magazine to be thin, but not the posters in the gym class and cafeteria; you’re missing the point)
  • This is not helpful. If you pressure girls to feel good about their, all you’re doing is adding just another body-related task they’re failing at

This is what I’d like to say to teenage girls, since I know some of y'all are listening

  • It’s not your fault that you’re facing sexist pressure to fight your body
  • Our culture is really hard on women in this regard
  • This is a way in which it’s really, really hard to be a woman
  • People put all kinds of pressure on you to fight yourself and your body at every turn. It’s relentless, and it’s from any number of angles.
  • It shouldn’t be that way. It’s not your fault that people are being mean to you. There’s no amount of weight loss that will make them stop. There’s no outfit range that will get them to stop. You’re being treated badly because sexism, not because of anything you’re doing.
  • It doesn’t ever get better exactly, adult women face all of these pressures too, but it’s not always as overwhelming
  • It’s harder when you’re young and just learning how to cope, and everyone is constantly yelling at you
  • Women learn strategies for coping with this sexist pressure, and they all have upsides and downsides
  • There’s a huge range of different approaches. These are very personal choices, and no one’s business but yours. Deciding that you’re going to spend a lot of time working on makeup and clothing doesn’t make you shallow. Deciding that you’re not going to do that doesn’t mean you’re lazy or immature. And there are any number of combinations, it’s not a decision you have to make the same way for every aspect of expected femininity. It’s personal.
  • As you figure out what works best for you, it can become much, much more bearable
  • It is not your fault if you feel bad about yourself or your body. It’s not a personal failing. Most women and girls feel that way at some point; many women and girls feel that very intensely for years or longer. It’s hard not to.
  • (Also, not everyone who grows up socially perceived as a girl grows up to be a woman. It’s possible that your relationship to your body and your gender is difficult for reasons other than misogyny and sexist pressure on girls. Some people who grow up treated as girls are men or nonbinary. Some people have body dysphoria that is neither caused by misogyny nor relieved by feminism. If you’re dealing with that, that’s not your fault either. It’s also not your fault if you’re unsure or confused. Some people know that they are trans; some people take a long time to figure things out; neither is your fault.)
  • (I want to acknowledge here that this issue affects trans girls, people raised as boys who are nonbinary or unsure about their gender identity, and others. I don’t know how that dynamic works well enough to describe it, but I don’t want to imply that everyone raised as a boy is immune from all pressures directed at girls and women)
  • It helps to build relationships with people you respect and who respect you.

Some resources that help some people:

  • You Get Proud By Practicing  is an amazing poem by Laura Hershey about the deepest kind of pride and self-respect
  • Body positivity blogs can help. So can fat acceptance blogs (even if you are not fat). Fat Girls Doing Things is a good one
  • Blogs by people who are joyfully into makeup and nail art as an end in itself

tl;dr Teenage girls get pressured to feel bad about themselves and their bodies, and then get shamed for feeling bad. If you are responsible for supporting teenage girls: don’t do that. If you are a teenage girl: it’s not your fault. This is hard.

youneedacat:

soilrockslove:

realsocialskills:

altimetres:

realsocialskills:

fourloves:

realsocialskills:

When people say “I can’t” I’ll sometimes encourage them to say “I decided not to” or something instead. Nobody can predict the future, so maybe nobody can know for sure whether somebody would be able to do something if they tried some more times. However, a person has a right to decide to stop. They may judge that it’s so unlikely they would succeed that it’s not worth trying; and doing it may not be worth a tremendous amount to them. I also have a right to my opinion that maybe they can.
realsocialskills answered:
You have a right to your opinion, but you don’t have the right to have them respect your assessment of their abilities. You especially do not have the right to have them take your opinion into consideration when they’re deciding what they can and can’t do.
Inability to do things is real. And yes, I may sometimes be wrong about my inability to do things, but taking it seriously when I think I can’t do something matters. Even if I’m wrong.
There’s a difference between deciding I don’t want to do something, and deciding that I think I am incapable of something, or that doing the thing is unacceptably risky for me.
Even if other people think I’m wrong - I still have the right to assess what my limits are and act accordingly. And even though I will sometimes mistakenly think that I am unable to do something I am actually capable of, “I can’t” is still a vital part of my vocabulary.
There’s a difference between not wanting to do a thing, and reaching the conclusion that I’m probably not capable of doing the thing and that trying is hurting me.
I need to be able to acknowledge that I have limits in order to manage them correctly, and do what I can instead of pretending that enough willpower makes everything possible.
So does everyone else. In particular, people with disabilities who have been taught that we’re not allowed to take physical limitation seriously. But being disabled and physically limited isn’t a moral failing. It’s just a fact of life that sometimes needs to be accounted for.

fourloves said:

anon needs to go away

who else gets chills when special ed teachers say “the word ‘can’t’ is not allowed in my classroom”

realsocialskills said:

Yes, teaching kids with disabilities not to recognize their own limits is a *major* anti-skill, and it does serious damage to people with disabilities.

altimetres said:

This. This. THIS.

I cannot tell you how many times in my early education I was told I am not allowed to say “I can’t” by special education teachers. At such a young age, that is dangerous. You are telling someone that they are not able to say “I can’t” to a variety of situations which can lead to very bad endings, and it is never the students fault.

One thing I remember clearly is one of my physical education teachers doing this. I have had joint problems my whole life (at 14, my knee joints were filled with micro-fractures, and that was not enough to get me out of PE), and it was never respected. One particular day, the teacher was putting harnesses on us to climb this indoor rope net. I KNEW I would not be able to manage it, as it requires a lot of work from your lower body. More importantly, your fucking knees. 

I told my teacher “I can’t do this” and she gave me the same speech that anon gave. “You CAN do it, we can’t tell what’s going to happen. You’re not allowed to say you can’t.” And even when I fought it, even when I went to walk away, I was threatened with a failing grade for the day. And since all my special education (well, 97% of it told me I couldn’t say no), I ended up on this net.

And what happened?

I made it four feet up, my knee popped out of it’s socket, and I was taken down crying as it popped itself back in. As my joints did.

And my teacher said “See, you CAN. Even with pain you CAN, you just don’t want to.”

This landed me on crutches and in doctors offices for 2 weeks.

So yeah, I wish I would have had more teachers with the guts to tell me “You can say no and mean it”. 

Fuck ableist teachers, get a new job.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, this.

This is what it does to people when you tell them “You’re not allowed to say I can’t.”.

soilrockslove said:

All of this!

And besides all this, if someone says “I don’t want to” and you force them to do it anyway - that’s no good either. O_o  And most people who I know who have said “don’t say can’t” aren’t that good at respecting “won’t” either.

youneedacat said:

This attitude is extremely popular among nurses, LNAs, and physical therapists and my local hospital.  And I’ve seen it do serious damage, both to me and to roommates I’ve had.

There’s a particular, really seriously awful, trick I’ve seen them pull on people multiple times.  Including me once, at which point I refused to ever get in a position where they could do it to me again.  (Which involved at one point firing my physical therapist.)

So here’s an example:

I was in really, really bad pain.  Not the worst pain I’ve ever felt, but bad enough that I couldn’t make myself sit up.  And I’m good at making myself do damn near anything.  This turned out to be because my feeding tube hadn’t been inserted properly, but they treated me like I was just being a wuss and complaining too much.  Like my roommate at the time would get them rushing into the room and giving her five different kinds of pain meds for every twinge, while I was actually frequently delirious from pain and they only grudgingly gave me pain meds, and only one kind.  It was really frustrating.

But here’s what they pulled on me:

They wanted to get me to get up and transfer to a bedside commode to use the bathroom, rather than being rolled and using the bedpan.  I don’t know about you, but if I’d been able to get up and use the commode, I would have:  I hate bedpans.  But they seemed to think I was being lazy.  They said they had people with much worse surgery than me up and moving on the first day, and therefore that I was just being lazy.  Nobody thought to check and see why I was still having excruciating pain so long after the tube was placed, when it shouldn’t be doing that.  No, they just chose to doubt that the pain was really that serious.  The pain had to get to a nine on the pain scale, after I got home, before anyone even checked the position of the tube, only to find that a piece of it was lodged in a really horrible position.

So what they did:

They badgered me and cajoled me and forced me until I finally put forth a phenomenal amount of effort to get up.  This involved gradually rolling over and creeping along the bed, taking frequent breaks in which I was crying and screaming from pain.  (It takes a lot of pain for me to do that.)  It was painstaking and horrible.

Then, after getting some help and getting to the commode, they showered me with praise and told me “See, you can do it after all, you just have to try.”  They told me how great I was for trying.

It was horrible.

Doing that to someone is a violation.

And it wasn’t a one-off thing, I saw them do that to a roommate with myasthenia gravis who was terrified of falling, forcing her to walk across the room and then showering her with praise at the end.  She had some cognitive disabilities that made it hard for her to see that as manipulation, and they were able to talk her into endangering herself regularly.

If you’ve never been in that situation, maybe you don’t know what a huge violation it is.

But to push someone into doing something that is painful or dangerous to them, to badger and cajole and threaten and harass them until they do it, and then shower them with praise when they can do it after all… it gets into their heads.  It tells them that they’re wrong about their abilities, that some nondisabled person has to show them their real potential.  And it puts them in grave danger, a lot of the time, because it overrides their own ability to judge what is safe for them and what is not.  It’s awful and it should never be done.

After the incident above, I fired my physical therapist and refused to get out of bed until the pain went away some.  I was told that if I stayed in bed for even a week I’d get deconditioned and horrible things would happen.  I told them I’d single-handedly brought myself back from months worth of deconditioning and that a week wouldn’t kill me.  But I had to fight them every step of the way.  It was worth it, though, because pushing through pain that bad is never a good thing.

wildoakcrafts:

altimetres:

realsocialskills:

fourloves:

realsocialskills:

When people say “I can’t” I’ll sometimes encourage them to say “I decided not to” or something instead. Nobody can predict the future, so maybe nobody can know…

wildoakcrafts said:

You know, I don’t have any specific memory of people telling me I’m not allowed to say “I can’t”, but that was the impression they gave; I still grew up thinking I’m not allowed to say “I can’t” when a teacher or boss tells me to do something. So I kept doing what was asked, and fucked up my feet, knees, and lower back. I was 26 when I finally realised that it’s ok to say no to a superior’s unreasonable requests.

And what’s really sad is that workplace safety training includes things like “You’re allowed to say no to requests that put you into an unsafe situation,” but all the examples are things that would be unsafe for ANYone. They don’t allow for disability; the subtext is that if other people can do it, then you should be able to do it too. It just never occurred to them that something that one person has no trouble doing might be harmful for someone else. And because of this, it never occurred to me to refuse work which is unsafe for me, because none of it was things that would be considered unsafe for people in general. I really wish I had figured this out sooner.

I hope this posts the way it should; I’m new to tumbler and not sure how everything works.

altimetres:

realsocialskills:

fourloves:

realsocialskills:

When people say “I can’t” I’ll sometimes encourage them to say “I decided not to” or something instead. Nobody can predict the future, so maybe nobody can know for sure whether somebody would be able to do something if they tried some more times. However, a person has a right to decide to stop. They may judge that it’s so unlikely they would succeed that it’s not worth trying; and doing it may not be worth a tremendous amount to them. I also have a right to my opinion that maybe they can.
realsocialskills answered:
You have a right to your opinion, but you don’t have the right to have them respect your assessment of their abilities. You especially do not have the right to have them take your opinion into consideration when they’re deciding what they can and can’t do.
Inability to do things is real. And yes, I may sometimes be wrong about my inability to do things, but taking it seriously when I think I can’t do something matters. Even if I’m wrong.
There’s a difference between deciding I don’t want to do something, and deciding that I think I am incapable of something, or that doing the thing is unacceptably risky for me.
Even if other people think I’m wrong - I still have the right to assess what my limits are and act accordingly. And even though I will sometimes mistakenly think that I am unable to do something I am actually capable of, “I can’t” is still a vital part of my vocabulary.
There’s a difference between not wanting to do a thing, and reaching the conclusion that I’m probably not capable of doing the thing and that trying is hurting me.
I need to be able to acknowledge that I have limits in order to manage them correctly, and do what I can instead of pretending that enough willpower makes everything possible.
So does everyone else. In particular, people with disabilities who have been taught that we’re not allowed to take physical limitation seriously. But being disabled and physically limited isn’t a moral failing. It’s just a fact of life that sometimes needs to be accounted for.

fourloves said:

anon needs to go away

who else gets chills when special ed teachers say “the word ‘can’t’ is not allowed in my classroom”

realsocialskills said:

Yes, teaching kids with disabilities not to recognize their own limits is a *major* anti-skill, and it does serious damage to people with disabilities.

altimetres said:

This. This. THIS.

I cannot tell you how many times in my early education I was told I am not allowed to say “I can’t” by special education teachers. At such a young age, that is dangerous. You are telling someone that they are not able to say “I can’t” to a variety of situations which can lead to very bad endings, and it is never the students fault.

One thing I remember clearly is one of my physical education teachers doing this. I have had joint problems my whole life (at 14, my knee joints were filled with micro-fractures, and that was not enough to get me out of PE), and it was never respected. One particular day, the teacher was putting harnesses on us to climb this indoor rope net. I KNEW I would not be able to manage it, as it requires a lot of work from your lower body. More importantly, your fucking knees. 

I told my teacher “I can’t do this” and she gave me the same speech that anon gave. “You CAN do it, we can’t tell what’s going to happen. You’re not allowed to say you can’t.” And even when I fought it, even when I went to walk away, I was threatened with a failing grade for the day. And since all my special education (well, 97% of it told me I couldn’t say no), I ended up on this net.

And what happened?

I made it four feet up, my knee popped out of it’s socket, and I was taken down crying as it popped itself back in. As my joints did.

And my teacher said “See, you CAN. Even with pain you CAN, you just don’t want to.”

This landed me on crutches and in doctors offices for 2 weeks.

So yeah, I wish I would have had more teachers with the guts to tell me “You can say no and mean it”. 

Fuck ableist teachers, get a new job.

realsocialskills said:

Yes, this.

This is what it does to people when you tell them “You’re not allowed to say I can’t.”.

a shorter version of the last post

sakhara-i-gra:

realsocialskills:

As disabled people, we learn early that it’s our job to protect abled people from ever having to notice either the logistical problems or the hate we face. And especially, we learn not to show that it hurts us. And double especially, we learn that we are not allowed to tell friends or caregivers or ~nice ladies~ or others that they are hurting us. And triple especially, we learn that we are not allowed to be angry because that’s ~just the way it is~ and ~people don’t understand~.

I think that protecting abled people from having to notice disability and ways we are harmed as disabled people goes so deep we do it automatically and without noticing most of the time. And abled people *really* don’t notice, because they think it’s normal and natural and have not had any need to challenge it. They feel completely entitled not to have to deal with disability, and the entitlement feels so natural that they don’t even *notice*. And we don’t notice how much we protect them, either.

I’m not sure what to do about that. I would like to start unlearning it, but I’m not sure how. Have any of y’all found ways?

sakhara-i-gra said:

Hey, I’m not the owner of this blog but I thought I’d speak here since this is relevant to me and I’m too lazy to log ‘im out and go on my own Tumblr. I’m on the autism spectrum and for a while lived with symptoms that mimicked chronic fatigue syndrome and part of what helped me was just taking it slow, and around friends and trusted people most. I have a friend who loves walking and I used to grit and bear it (ending up wiped out for the rest of the day) till one day I just thought: Is this healthy for me? What am I getting out of this? This sucks, why am I still doing it? So I just after talking it over with my therapist and a couple of other friends told him no, I can’t walk, I don’t have the energy. And some days I’d walk, some days I wouldn’t and eventually I felt safe telling him that I just have a limited amount of energy and I’d rather just sit and talk or something.
When it comes to my mental mess, it was again doing it slow and bit by bit around trusted people. I see a therapist and she already knew/knows my background so we slowly worked together to where I was in the place to not be scared of what I am (I come from an abusive background where stuff like that wasn’t okay). Then I (with a lot of support mostly from online friends) took that again to my friends offline who were for the most part fortunately accepting and okay with the fact that I can’t handle lots of noise, can’t go to parties, need lots of rest, can’t run or jump around some days, etc etc.
So yeah in short just finding people who are supportive and taking it step by step helped me some. I’m not all the way there yet but it’s a bit better than where I used to be. -E