I Am Differently Abled, Not Disabled
When a loved one is diagnosed with a medical condition, there are many questions that emerge. What does this mean for their future? Will they cope in the real world? How will your life change after this revelation? How do you deal with someone who is different from others? The term 'disabled' is often associated with people diagnosed with different kinds of mental and physical conditions. The term isn't exactly incorrect - these conditions that often restrict normal functioning in social situations.But are we right in calling them disabled?
Disabled vs. differently abled
The first thing that comes to mind when labelling someone as 'disabled' is the action itself. People aren't and shouldn't be labelled as anything, least of all disabled. When someone is diagnosed with a condition (like autism), they aren't autistic, they HAVE autism. Who they are as a person is not impacted by a medical condition and it surely doesn't contribute to their identity. While the labelling aspect is important to some, it isn't to most others.
The term disabled has not been favoured in recent times with several alternatives cropping up. One of these is seeing more favour than others - 'differently abled'. This term is inclusive and offers an equal platform to those who fall under it.
What does it mean to be differently abled?
People with mental or physical conditions are differently abled because they possess a unique set of abilities and perspectives. Everybody has ability and everybody matters, it's all about acknowledging it. 'Differently abled' doesn't hide the fact that your loved one has been diagnosed with a condition, but continues to empower them despite it. Oftentimes, differently abled people see what we can't, hear what we can't and think what we can't. This makes their ability different - not inferior, not superior - just different.
The term differently abled recognises talent and value in everybody and treats them equally. While mental conditions like autism can affect certain everyday functions, it need not stop them from enjoying a fulfilling, enriched and loved life. Many differently people are known to flourish and rejoice in life with the right opportunity, support and love.
How can I help?
If you personally know someone with mental or physical conditions, the best way you can help is to provide them unconditional love, support and patience. Get in touch with experts at APD India to understand the conditions and how they can affect their life. Knowledge is the best way to help those around you. You can also help by spreading the word and sensitising people on the matters of mental conditions. Alternatively, you can also help substantially by volunteering as an individual or a group with NGOs like APD and making the lives of the differently abled easier and happier.
Several non profit groups in your area are relentlessly working to facilitate a better life for the differently abled and you can contribute your time, money or labor. Even the smallest donations or a few hours every week can improve hundreds of lives around you. Take action.