Friday, April 9, 2010


Tolerance is often under represented by society as a whole. And this certainly comes as no surprise to those in the disability communities. Today words like “retard”, “schizo”, “sped” and “gimp” are used as everyday slang. It is no wonder tolerance for differences seems to be such a far away goal. But one might think that the communities would at least have found tolerance amongst themselves. That perhaps the advocates, families and those with disabilities themselves would be tolerant of others. Sadly, that is often not the case.

There are huge rifts caused by a multitude of issues between differing advocacy groups. Many disputes are over competition for grassroots funding. When there is only a little in the pot to share, groups can become extremely competitive. But probably more pervasive is the theories about what is best for those with disabilities that causes the most problems.

Ultimately, this rift can been seen in full action by watching the Autism community. Because to date, there is no valid medical test to determine what Autism is, those affected by it are left to choose sides with one of the theorists. The two most powerful groups in the Autism community are those who attribute Autism to a curable disease or vaccine damage verses those who consider Autism a neurologically diverse evolution of the species. There are extremists on both sides and many, many more folks in between.

Those in between folks are left to chose sides or remain neutral. As politics go, remaining neutral does little to help make any advancements on either side of the debate. So many pick a side just so that they have something to work with.

With both sides having dug their feet in so deeply, it is hard for either to make advancements. There is no tolerance given to either side.

How can we expect the rest of society to have tolerance for our differences when those who are living with the differences cannot even tolerate each other? How can we expect to ever advance as a species if we refuse to even acknowledge the other side is human and deserves to be treated respectfully?

While many middle ground folks can see the validity on both sides of the debate, it's not enough to bring the community together. Until we successfully bridge the gap between all those affected, it is arrogant to request that the rest of society tolerate our differences.