I am sick to my stomach tonight.
I know. I’m making a big deal out of nothing again, right?
The issue is this video. In it, a developmentally disabled young man, the manager of his school’s basketball team, is put into the game in the last few moments. His teammates are trying to pass him the ball, but he’s missing, every time. Then the opposing team, with the score pretty much locked in, passes him the ball and he scores.
Parents are hailing it as phenomenal and “such an inspiration”.
It makes me want to throw up.
It reeks of patronization.
It reminds me of too many instances where people were nice to me, because I was weird, because I was disabled. Or maybe they were an assigned friend. It would be years before I discovered that many of my childhood friends weren’t actually friends at all.
Listen, I’m total crap at sports. I didn’t play sports, and the only thing that ever came close to sports was in 8th grade, when I tried out to be a cheerleader. This is actually pretty relevant, so let me tell you the story.
I thought it was competitive. I was told from the very beginning that only a certain number of girls would get in. It was a two week long cheerleading day camp, and we worked hard. We bonded with the other girls, we worked out, we came up with cheers. All in all, it was hard work, and I wanted to succeed. On the final day, I had my routine down, or so I thought. I completely bombed. I knew I had. And yet, my teammates told me I did fabulously.
And in the end, you know what happened?
I got in.
I wasn’t good. Not one bit. I had almost no coordination. I can dance to a beat, but I’m not flexible, and I was really too chubby even at 13 for the look of that particular squad. I still got in.
And now, it’s hard to trust.
When someone tells me that something I’ve done is good, I don’t believe them. Even when a lot of people tell me I’m good at something, I have a difficult time believing them. Because 19 years ago, I was lied to repeatedly. I was told I was good. It wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t disabled.
I get the point behind this sort of “inspirational” video. I understand. That we want to believe that humans are decent, and do things for others that are kind for no reason except to help our fellow man is a good thing. I know that the intent behind this video is good. But intent is not magic, and therefore, I’m hurt. I’m hurt that I once again have to defend my stance here, that I once again have to explain why I’m not here to be your inspiration That I don’t live my life so you can be inspired. That other people displaying the basic level of human decency is what should be expected, and is not something to be praised.
I’m sorry this isn’t as articulate as other people’s posts have been (links one, two, and three) . I’m too upset that I’m having to do this again and again and again. Sometimes advocating for myself, for my kids, for other Autistics, well, it’s tiring. Explaining why people trying to do a good thing are actually part of the problem is neverending. Forgive me for getting tired sometimes.