Re: Hi guys, any advice about writting about disabled people?

#41

Kiebahow Wrote: Disability, according to the Oxford Language is "a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities".

Autism: "is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.(1)".

The only reason autism is limiting is because society is composed mainly of neurotypical people. Studies have shown that information exchange on autist-autist level is equally efficient as neurotypical-neurotypical. However, it is disturbed on neurotypical-autist level.

If majority of people were autistic and neurotypicals were a minority, it's neurotypicals who would be considered disabled. Thus, being on spectrum is no different from being left handed- the only reason left handed people struggle is because they live in a society made for right handed people(thus most guns are meant for right handed, etc.)

Also, being on the spectrum myself this is something I am not willing to argue beyond providing my stance, if you're considering it a disability, fine, you have right to label reality however you want...but I won't. 

Re: Hi guys, any advice about writting about disabled people?

#42

InterestingLad Wrote:
Father Wrote:
Father Wrote: like that one veteran character struggling with PTSD I'll just ... I don't know. Him coming back from a war without any itch or scratch was unbelievable to me. Do I write him like his experience didn't bother him or just let him die on the spot so he'll never have to deal with it either way?
Gosh, Father Grim, I hate to say anything to quibble with you since I agree with a lot of what you've said in this thread, but, dang it, I'm going to address just this one, teensy-tiny point. And it's not even about you having a veteran with PTSD. They exist, although often it is a more or less, sometimes but not always and combined with benefits kind of thing. And it's the last I want to address, along with perceptions about frequency. MOST PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE TRAUMA come out of the experience stronger rather than weaker. It's called Post-Traumatic Growth. This is true for veterans of combat just as for other types of trauma. The greatest probably didn't win WWII because they were the greatest. They became the greatest because they went and won it. And it's not even the winning (though I think that's better than losing), it's the effect of how we cope with trauma, whether it is combat, a life-threatening diagnosis, criminal attacks, or whatever. Many people become stronger, more grateful, etc. So, it bothers me when I read a book that suggests (often implicitly) that EVERY veteran experience PTSD. Not true. And, some that do also experience growth.
I would hate for you to be bothered by some quibbling since I don't take that personally. I'm grateful that you've raised this point. 


PTSD in its essence is struggling with what you've experienced in my book. The past not wanting to rest to put it very simply. Now what the experience was, what the reaction is, how the healing might look like and who's the one who's experiencing it all influence that, meaning that it will look very differently for every single one who has something like that. Some will have nightmares and trouble sleeping, but once they wake up in the morning they go about their day the same way as before. Some might take up something like woodworking as a hobby where they're able to create something to balance the destruction out and feel at peace through that. Some might even grow closer to their family to feel grounded. 

It's better to show you what I mean instead of trying to explain it:
Quote:There were two sons and their single father. Their mother died early and the father started drinking because of it. He was a brute when drunk, beating his sons within inches of their life. Eventually they grew up and left their father behind, but the experience stuck with them. Years later the two brothers, so similar during childhood, had gone completely different paths. One had taken up the bottle himself and in his drunken rages revealed himself as the same type of abuser his father had been. He beat his wife in his stupor and woke up the next morning without memories but full of regret when he saw his handiwork. The guilt only drove him deeper into addiction.
His brother had become a doctor - a surgeon. Watching people die under his care when they got rushed into the operating room from accidents and disasters that had left their bodies mangled beyond repair haunted him, but the lives he saved made for a balance of sorts in his mind. He was happily married and would on occasion have a drink, though only ever in the company of friends. He'd found that he lost the taste for it. 
When asked why their paths had diverged so greatly, their lives played out so differently they both gave the same answer.
"With a father like that, what other choice was there?"
That's why I'm against focusing on the disabilities and afflictions of people above everything else. Who people are and what they make out of what they're given in life does not depend on the circumstances, but on themselves and their choices. 

I have two dear friends with similar backgrounds - an abusive mother during their early childhood. The first one remembers his childhood as the best time of his life and often gets this glint in his eyes when he talks of the past as if it had been a better time. If you push him - and I once did - he revealed how bad some of that stuff had really been and to this day he struggles in his relationship with his mother. This calm and collected man will have ugly arguments with this sweet and innocent looking woman and if you didn't know the history you could not understand why.
The other one's the opposite at first glance. You'd think he never was a child, the way he just doesn't talk about it. Instead he gets annoyed when people recall the good old times. For most that's all there is. For me, who saw him break down ugly crying when I hugged him because his mind couldn't compute that people wouldn't be disgusted by the very sensation of touching him things look different. He's got a great relationship with his mother, upbeat, funny, charismatic in how he always steers the conversation towards sunnier shores. He's never been in a relationship with a woman because they scare him to death. 

If people ask about abuse, what should I tell them? That people who got abused by the person closest to them are scarred by the experience? These two friends of mine are sweet and loveable people and nothing's further from my mind than to tell anyone they're defective, but at the same time neither can I say that it didn't leave any marks. 

So let me one last time reaffirm what I've been saying from the very first post and I'll apologize for being crude:

Fuck focusing on disabilities and ignoring the people beneath them. As long as you write about people I don't care how their body looks and how their mind works. They got hopes and dreams, they live and laugh and love and as long as you can capture that nothing else truly matters. 

Re: Hi guys, any advice about writting about disabled people?

#43

Sake Wrote:
Kiebahow Wrote: Disability, according to the Oxford Language is "a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities".

Autism: "is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.(1)".

The only reason autism is limiting is because society is composed mainly of neurotypical people. Studies have shown that information exchange on autist-autist level is equally efficient as neurotypical-neurotypical. However, it is disturbed on neurotypical-autist level.

If majority of people were autistic and neurotypicals were a minority, it's neurotypicals who would be considered disabled. Thus, being on spectrum is no different from being left handed- the only reason left handed people struggle is because they live in a society made for right handed people(thus most guns are meant for right handed, etc.)

Also, being on the spectrum myself this is something I am not willing to argue beyond providing my stance, if you're considering it a disability, fine, you have right to label reality however you want...but I won't.
For the most part I agree with everything you've written here. Many people with autism are NOT disabled, including ones who struggle with every day life. Their problem is not their diagnosis, but other peoples expectations on them to be something they're not. 


But for others, autism can very much be a disability. Physical symptoms like poor muscle control often fall under the diagnosis. Not every autistic person is verbal, or able to walk on their own. Some have seizures, some have sensory overload, some have a very low IQ and need assistance. It's a very wide spectrum, to the point where I sometimes question its use as a diagnosis.. 

Re: Hi guys, any advice about writting about disabled people?

#44

Sake Wrote:
Kiebahow Wrote: Disability, according to the Oxford Language is "a physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activities".

Autism: "is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.(1)".

The only reason autism is limiting is because society is composed mainly of neurotypical people. Studies have shown that information exchange on autist-autist level is equally efficient as neurotypical-neurotypical. However, it is disturbed on neurotypical-autist level.

If majority of people were autistic and neurotypicals were a minority, it's neurotypicals who would be considered disabled. Thus, being on spectrum is no different from being left handed- the only reason left handed people struggle is because they live in a society made for right handed people(thus most guns are meant for right handed, etc.)

Also, being on the spectrum myself this is something I am not willing to argue beyond providing my stance, if you're considering it a disability, fine, you have right to label reality however you want...but I won't.
Yesterday was a bad autism day for me. 

Yesterday, I could barely talk. At least it's only a communication issue, not a real disability. 

Yesterday, I couldn't think through the noise of a quiet house. At least it's only a communication issue, not a real disability. 

Yesterday, I couldn't get my whole body in the shower because the water spray was overloading my skin. At least it's only a communication issue, not a real disability. 

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I put on headphones in the office because there was no way I could concentrate on my work. My coworkers handled all but one client for me, because the first time the phone rang I nearly jumped out of my chair. At least it's only a communication issue, not a real disability. 

Yesterday, the automatic lawn sprinklers came on, sprayed me, and I had a panic attack until I could strip off my wet clothing because they were like some sort of alien creature clinging to my body. At least it's only a communication issue, not a real disability. 

My allistic wife was just fine communicating with me and helped me through it. My allistic coworkers, who know even less about it, offered me a free day off and made sure I had what I needed. The allistic lady at the drink shop could tell something was wrong, understood immediately when I said (really stammered) that it was a bad autism day, and made sure I got something comforting to get me through the day. 

By your argument, my previous need for a wheelchair just to go get groceries or visit a bookstore -- much less participate in a social life -- was only a disability because the world is full of people who don't need disabilities. 

Autism affects people differently; if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism, nothing more. I have never in my life questioned the claim of anyone who said they were on the autistic spectrum . . . until now. 

Re: Hi guys, any advice about writting about disabled people?

#45
If you want to write about a character with a disability there are several perfectly fine approaches to take depending on your audience. 
Writing the disability however you want and having it affect your character whatever way you want is great, if your audience does not include those with the disability or their close associates. You would essentially be inventing a disability and applying it to your character under the name of a real disability. Just be sure to stay consistent in it's effects and limitations. There will inevitably be people offended but they don't matter and can't do anything about it, so long as you don't outright claim to have accurately represented the disability and its effects in your fiction.
The second approach is to appeal to the audience that knows or has had experience with the disability. You will want to research the disability and try to keep your characters actions in line with what they can do.
Last option is to appeal to both and this is the hardest, you need to both provide some background on the disability in a natural way so the less informed can follow along while keeping the interest of the affected.

However you approach the situation remember your writing about a person who has a disability not a disability that has a person. (even if said disability is blamed as the protagonist falls in a downward spiral to tragedy, the focus should be the character and their choices not the limitations.)