sinisterporpoise: (Default)
 Everyone who knows me knows that I'm quite adept at putting my foot in my mouth. I can say I've learned from this behavior, but it's not something I'd recommend. It seems that a few times on Dreamwidth, I've told people that they can do something with a little more practice. I usually said it when there was something that should have been clear from their previous statements that this was not possible for the writer.  My response has bugged me for sometime, and it comes down to how people view disabilities.

Now, I know I am intelligent. I believe I can write well, and it helps I've had other people tell me the same thing.  I can write, so I am  not going to make my point here. Instead, I'll go back to my own past. I know that my coordination is poor, and has been since I was a child. My elementary school made me go through a special program designed to improve it.  Even now, I can still remember one hated exercise which involved using your hands to spin two wheels in different directions.  

In adult life, I tried factory work at one or two points. Given my depression and social anxiety disorder, I switched jobs frequently. Usually depression or anxiety would set in and cause me to act in a way that would eventually get me fired.  Factory work, however, was a different story. I never lasted more than a week or two. At one place, I didn't even last a night.  The problem each time is that my coordination also means I have to do things more slowly in order to do them to correctly. If I am allowed to practice the motions, I might become proficient. (This is something that can take months and years. People see I can type quite quickly and assume I should be able to work in factory just fine. They forget I've been typing two-handed since the 7th grade.)  However, no factory setting would ever give me this time. It's not a reasonable expectation.  Factories need to meet their production goals to make a profit.

When I tell other people that I can't do factory work because of my poor coordination, they tell me all I need is practice. No, they forget something. I need to practice the specific skills over and over again for years. No factory manager wants to give me that time.  Unskilled workers are easily replaced. Why give me the time to catch up when they can let me go and find someone else willing to do the job who doesn't have this issue?   The "you just need practice" answer always annoyed me. They had assumed because it worked this way for them, that it should work this way for me.  It never has, and I know I can't do factory work. Everyone else just assumed it was laziness or a dislike of manual labor on my part. (My dislike of manual labor does exist, but it is a separate issue.)

After going over the more recent events when I did the same thing to others, I've revised my position. It's not that the people who knew me who told me I needed practice didn't believe I had poor coordination.   It's that they thought I should be able to overcome it. That all it took to overcome this particular problem was practice. (No, this has dogged me for years. The fact that I am not as good at video games that require coordination as the rest of them is a clue.)  But they all thought that this particular disability of mine is something that I should be able to overcome. Society seems to think the same way about people with all disabilities, and this is, I think, one of the problems with inspiration porn.  It gives able-bodied people unrealistic expectations of what disabled people should be able to do.   No amount of practice is going to resolve my overall coordination issues, which are likely related to Asperger's Syndrome and possible EDS.  (By possible, I mean undiagnosed by a medical professional. I'm damn sure my physical therapists have suspected this for a while just by the questions that pop-up from time to time. After compiling some family stories about my early life, it seems highly likely that I do have it.)  Asperger's Syndrome -- now folded into Autism -- is something that is going to be with me my whole life.  EDS is something I've likely had for a long time as well, but from what I've read, loose joints predispose someone to developing fibromyalgia.)   And if I found it annoying when people did this to me, why wouldn't someone else with a similar problem find it annoying when I did this to them?

It seems that I suffered from an ableist attitude and did not realize it. Even the first correction didn't help. I probably still hold this attitude. Now that I recognize that I still see some disabilities as something that everyone can overcome, I will be on the lookout for it more.

sinisterporpoise: (Default)
I chatted with an old supervisor at Sam’s Club today.  Such a conversation would have been quickly forgotten under most circumstances, had she not brought up a new employee who called off due to foot and leg pain. The former supervisor quickly speculated that the new employee was too young to have such pains.  She probably didn’t catch the look in my eye until I reminded her that she might want to be careful before continuing this conversation.  The former lead tried to brush it off by saying I had a medical reason for the pain.

I have never met the employee in question. I also understand that supervisory staff tends to be suspicious of new employees calling off for any reason.  However, the core assumption was that someone has to be older than their late 30s or early 40s to experience that kind of pain.  If I’ve only learned one lesson from my own experiences, it’s that people who are my age certainly can experience chronic pain conditions.  People who are much younger than I am have fibromyalgia, and more severe conditions like Lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not a single one of these conditions cares about someone’s age, although middle-aged women are more likely to suffer from them than people of other demographic groups.

It seems that I am at the awkward stage of life where I am both too young to have the problems I am having, and I’m having the same problems because I’m getting older.  Some of these pronouncements have come within a few days of each other.  Either I have a great idea for a new Chronic Illness cat meme, or people really need to make up their minds.

sinisterporpoise: (Default)
 I have not wanted to complain about how unfair life is since High School, if I recall correctly.  This past year, however, has made me want to cry out to the heavens accusing some higher power of picking on me. Being forced out of my job for a condition over which I had no control, and later being forced into a work program because the state didn’t know about the condition has soured my mood general. Few things have gone well this year, but as I write this, I have to wonder how many other people have been forced into the same situation.

A number of conservative friends and relatives post about the moochers or about how people who have not earned their benefits should just get a job. One person even suggested cutting the meager benefits such people get in order to pay for Veteran’s benefits.  No one wants to cut Veteran’s benefits, but she assumes that people getting benefits either haven’t earned them or would not love to be off of them. Most people receiving food stamps – who are generally working – would love to not need them to get by. They work and their tax dollars help support the SNAP program. 

The people who are targeted the most by the programs designed to get the people described as  moochers off of these programs generally target a category of people known as able-bodied adults without dependents.  Indiana’s most recent change to its SNAP program forces people they have identified into a work program. The program only offers gas cards or job passes and job leads. It can also place someone into a Community Work Experience Program, which is unpaid. Somehow forcing someone to do free labor for a private firm or organization counts as helping people find a full-time job.

Perhaps I would be less annoyed if I were not forced into such a program myself. A few years ago, I would have applauded these programs for getting people off of welfare, but these programs are based on the idea that people who get benefits too long are lazy. Indiana assumes that its economy is booming, and the Republican-controlled legislature is rolling back expansions of some of the safety net programs. Many Red States are enacting similar regressive reforms. Perhaps I resent this program even more because I lost my job through no fault of my own.

The letter telling me I would be inducted into the job search program, called IMPACT, was followed up with a letter informing me of the orientation session.  When I went to the orientation session, I got the immediate sense that someone made a huge mistake, and it might have been me. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the people who just got out of prison and were forced into the same program. However, when they tried to come up with a plan for me, the person who tried to come up with my plan informed me that I could apply for jobs and it would not be held against me if I couldn’t do them. Rather than telling me how to get around this particular issue, she probably should have told me more about how to get out of this program.

(Note to self: Get doctor's note to get out of this program.)

Editing notes:
 Moochers probably should be changed.

sinisterporpoise: (Default)
The State of Indiana realizes that anyone may develop a chronic illness that affects an individual's ability to work. If this happens to you, the  Family and Social Services Administration is ready to provide the tools such individuals need. The state legislature developed the following safety net programs for people who do not qualify for unemployment, TANF, or other safety nets . The following document provides the resources that Hoosiers disabled by chronic illness need to continue living.   Indiana residents can choose from one of three options: mooching off of friends or relatives, living on the streets and begging, or becoming a meth dealer.
Mooching Off  of Friends or Relatives
If you have friends or relatives willing to take you in, the Family and Social Services Administration recommends this option. Mooching off of friends or relatives places no additional burden on the taxpayers, does not increase the rate of homelessness in the state’s urban areas,  and does not violate Indiana code.   We recommend that you have rich relatives or a large family to support you for an indeterminate amount of time. Having a large family increases the chances that you will survive until social security disability payments start.  After alienating a relative or friend, you can move on to the next one.
Living On the Streets and Begging
This may seem like a drastic option, but it provides benefits that mooching off of friends or relatives does not. Many faith-based programs are available to help homeless adults who are not Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender.  Churches and soup kitchens provide meals to people without permanent residences, and clothing drives help keep people warm during the colder months. Occasionally, local police officers will help homeless individuals with a place to stay that provides free meals and medical care. Many local ordinances prohibit panhandling, but individuals who can make legible signs can support themselves if they do well. Shelters exist to take in non-LGBT homeless adults during the harsh Midwestern winter nights.
LGBT Adults should consider changing their sinful life-style if they wish to be worthy of receiving these benefits.
Becoming a Meth Dealer
Technically, this violates federal and state laws. The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration recommends not getting caught. Getting caught dealing drugs results in  a lengthy prison sentence,  but being sent to prison can be beneficial for unemployed individuals.  While in prison, you do not need to worry about food, housing, or medical care in many circumstances. (Some people might fall through the cracks if the guards believe you are too disabled, a member of a minority, severely mentally ill, or simply faking an illness.)  You will meet meet interesting people during your prison sentence.  If you manage not to get caught, you have a career that can provide you with a great deal of wealth while helping to reduce the surplus population. You are also contributing to one of the state's largest industries.
The State of Indiana wants to make sure all Hoosiers succeed, and it has provided this pamphlet to you free of charge. Good luck in your future endeavors.
sinisterporpoise: (Default)
People frequently say that they are not the people they used to be in online fibro chat groups. Sometimes, it is easy to dismiss this is a product of the complaining that goes on in these environments. Sometimes,  the people there just need to vent about how things are for them at the moment. I'm not any better than anyone else at this.  

However, the topic of mourning the people we used to be came up several nights ago. I must admit that I had difficulty with this at first. After all, I was still the same person, even if I had a new challenge to deal with. I still did many of the same things I did before, including go to work. Sure, I switched my exercise routines and I avoided standing for long periods of time when possible, but at first these were solutions to a problem I hoped to be temporary.

But if it were not for the magical effects provided by denial and sheer stubbornness, I doubt I would have been able to continue as long in my job as I have. Most people would have quit when I experienced severe leg pain on a daily basis. I, on the other hand, persisted. I knew how hard it was to get disability benefits, and I doubted I'd qualify. (There's also the problem of me not knowing what was causing the problem at first.)

I'm still trying to cling on to how things used to be, rather than finding the proper balance for what my life has become. I want to believe I'm still the person who can go into noisy environment without the quick energy drain.  I felt surprise when someone described three people in the LARP group as handicapped. (I named two right away. I had a hard time thinking about the third one. When she uttered the phrase, "Lara is handicapped." I finally realized who the third person was.)

I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to think of myself in this way. I'm not sure that I want to. I know I've encountered something similar as a transgender person before. For the longest time I didn't want to identify as queer.  All of the social stigmas that went with it frightened me. A good dose of internalized transphobia and homophobia went with it. It was easy to blame this on my religious background. A similar excuse cannot be used for my own fear of having a disability.

Even when I went through the disability process the first time, I had the attitude that the term really didn't apply to me. After all,  I thought I functioned normally, although most people who knew me would question this. (They suspected that I suffered from some form of mental illness long before I told them in most cases.) When the administration denied benefits, I did not fight it too long. I just returned to the work force as best as I could.  The environment for people working for the content mills was much better at the time. My writing didn't make me rich, but it did provide money for basic necessities.  The new problems have physiological causes, and I still feel like I'm somehow cheating the taxpayers, even though the system was set up for people who could no longer work.   

I know I should not feel guilty, and I know that I am lucky that it wasn't something much worse.  Some part of me keeps thinking that others will see me differently during the times I use a walking stick or a cane.  

I should probably stop rambling. Anxiety, as usual, makes the problem worse. I need to get over my own fear of what admitting that things aren't what they used to be might mean. I also need to be less concerned about what other people think. After all, I'm probably the only one who sees myself all that differently. (Well, except for my employer who seems to be sending signals that I'm a less valuable employee than I used to be.)
sinisterporpoise: (Default)

You know, I get why this wouldn't occur to me, but you think it would have occurred to the Netflix executives that Daredevil *would* have a large visually-impaired following. At least in this one case, they might have wanted to put descriptive items in the show.


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