Response to Marshak et al.

Marshak et al. is a scholarly article which provides insight into why collegiate students with disabilities do not seek help from disability services. The researchers interviewed 16 Caucasian students of both genders with different physical and mental disabilities, and gained qualitative data yielding five target categories: identity issues, desire to avoid negative social reaction, insufficient knowledge, perceived quality and usefulness of services, and negative experiences with professors. These categories are analyzed and subject personal experience is used to pinpoint reasons for abstaining from receiving help.

It seems a lot of the problems the students have come from a broader social injustice. The students fail to get the services they want or need because they dread the social criticism they know they will receive. Recognizing this has its own category, I feel it extends beyond and invades most if not all of the categories. For example, within the expediency of service delivery subcategory the researchers present the information that the students felt anonymity was lost during the process of trying to get a note taker that they were entitled to, but did not necessarily receive. This is an injustice according to one subject, because you shouldn’t promise a service which cannot be depended on. So going through a complicated process to maybe or maybe not get a service and receive social intolerance for it puts disabled students in the mindset that they would be better off just facing the problem on their own. It is clear here that some students still want their culture to be kept hidden because of fear of social ridicule. For example, within the negative experience with professors subcategory, even instructors ignorantly accuse and confuse students’ entitled services with cheating. These negative interactions are laden with not just microaggressions but full attacks on the student. All this and more seems to be the classic case of blaming the victim.

Thoughts on “The Spoon Theory”

Christine Miserandino’s “Spoon Theory” is an idea which relates the life of someone with chronic illness and disability with the life of someone who does not have such an illness. As the author states, the idea began while her and her friends were enjoying a meal in a diner while attending college. One friend asked Christine what it was like to live with her condition, lupus, to which she replied with an elegant model of quantifying the ability a person with lupus has in the form of spoons, a utensil in excess at diners. This model was effective at conveying the hardships that she has going through her daily tasks and she still uses the model today for friends and family that struggle to understand her condition.

I empathized while reading and understanding the struggle that Christine faces. Once the reader gets passed the flowery exposition it is clear how strong Christine is and how affected her friends were by finally being able to understand her condition. Putting her friend in a position where she has to think about what she is doing and act responsibly for the sake of conserving her “spoons” bridges the gap between the abled and the disabled. The theory is put simply in a language that everyone can understand; you have a limited amount of something and by acting those limited things are taken away from you one by one. In ways this metaphor extends beyond the disabled but is a fair representation for the twisted world. A person works to preserve resources, such as wealth, and by just merely living those resources can be taken away without any regard for the person who depends upon those resources.

The emotional impact this has on the girls is really quite heartwarming. At the time when the friends finally understand how difficult life can be for Christine is when the girls have a genuine moment of humanity; empathizing and relating to one another. As someone who has never had to deal with chronic illness the spoon theory was a reading I wanted to experience to educate myself about what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes.

Response to Dolmage “Disability Myths”

Dolmage’s “Disability Myths” is a list of eleven stereotypes or rather preconceived notions that society has about how disability is showcased. As the author says himself, “these myths works to mark or construct disability as surplus, improper, lesser, or otherwise other . . .” (Dolmage 31). The main points are that normal has just as much of a nonexistent origin as the myths covered, and that “The key ‘lesson’ here is that disability representation can never really be narrowed down to a ‘test’ or an inventory of tropes or myths” (Dolmage 60).

Humanity has an average rate of improvement, meaning that things are always getting better. It seems that this would be true when applied to disability. People with physical disfigurement were estranged from society not too long ago. These myths are still alive in 2017, but with legislation and service technology, life for disabled individuals seems to have improved. By no means is life perfect for disabled individuals. A lack of representation and inequality are still prevalent for the disabled, but with the installment of handicapped accessibility it seems like an improvement on what life was like not half a century ago.

I strongly disagree with the angle at which Dolmage argues the myth “Disability as Pathology” (Dolmage 37). On a foundational level, I agree with Dolmage when he writes, “disabilities have been historically labeled, sorted, and arrayed on scales according to deviation from standardized norms” and that this led to “their institutionalization” (Dolmage 37). To suggest however that a scientific and medical understanding of disability can “never be understood as something positive” and that it takes away a, “generative aspect of one’s subject position” is both undermining the goal of science and severity of disability to personal health (Dolmage 37). It is only due to the advancements in science and technology that individuals with disabilities can walk again, take medicine which subsides delusions and illusions, or have the ability to communicate. The argument that, “Science, medicine, therapeutic and even pharmacological discourses and practices cast disability as a personal deficit or deviance to be cured” I think is an oversimplification of the actual goal of the practices, to help those afflicted understand so that it can be made manageable.

Dolmage, Jay T. Disability Rhetoric. Syracuse University Press, 2014.