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.