Keeping up Hope and Desire

mushrooms on stumpI read an interesting blog post the other day. This mother used the term “ableist” and I had no idea what it meant. So I looked it up (okay, I googled it, I told you before I can’t fight it).

Here is one of the definitions: Ableism or ablism is a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities. Discrimination faced by those who have or are perceived to have a mental disorder is sometimes called mentalism rather than ableism.

Okay. But as I read what this mother had to say about her child I was very, very confused. She felt that by saying things like “I don’t care if my baby is a boy or a girl as long as it is healthy” folks were discriminating against her child.

I worked in the field of identifying disorders or weaknesses. It was my life. I didn’t do it to be prejudice against anyone. Or to measure anyone against a “better” standard. I did it to help them. To make their lives easier by introducing modifications into their school day. By ensuring that we worked with their strengths and helped them to be happy and independent. I could not do that if we didn’t have some standard – some goal – somewhere to aim.

I mulled over the mother’s words. Her criticism that her child be measured against a standard of normalcy. Her statement that she loved her child unconditionally.

And that is where the glitch lives. In the use of language to describe things. Language has become the target of all prejudice. How you label something offends someone. You can’t say anything is better, best, worse, lower, higher, bigger, smaller. After I read this mother’s thoughts I felt she was condemning those who wished for a “healthy” baby. According to her it wasn’t right to hope that your child was born without any problems because that was offensive to those who were born…um…well I can’t say different, I can’t say with problems, I can’t use any word to describe what I want to say that are not a comparison of some sort or a measure to some standard.

I’m sad about this. I’m sad that this mother thinks that if other people have dreams, goals, wish for the best, it somehow degrades her child. I’m sad she can’t love her child unconditionally, but also love the rest of us unconditionally as well. And let us have hope.


  1. Robin…what a touching, beautiful article that brought tears to my eyes. You have hit the nail on the head about what we have done about our language. We have tried to erase prejudice but using “acceptable” words but forget to look behind words for the meaning they are trying to convey. No matter how one looks at it, having a child with problems is a lot harder than having a “healthy” child. More power to the parents who not only cope well but feel blessed with the challenge. And what is actually wrong with wishing for the best in life, no matter who has less?

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