IDD

Why Disability Pride?

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Why ‘Disability Pride’? The question has a clear answer when you consider the opposite of pride: shame. People experience shame when they suffer social rejection; when they are bullied; when they are insulted or taunted; and when they seek to belong but are, instead, criticized and demeaned.[1]

Our society is full of the markers of disability shame. People with disabilities experience oppression through low employment rates, minimum wage exemption, higher likelihood to be victims of abuse & bullying, exclusion from education, social isolation, under-representation politically and in the media, higher rates of poverty, homelessness, incarceration, and poor access to wellness and healthcare.[3]

When [people] are successful and feel proud, they instinctively look to others. When they fail and feel ashamed, they look away. This is in the nature of pride and shame. The universal behavior associated with the emotion of shame is concealment; we all attempt to hide or cover up what we are ashamed of. Pride is the antithesis of shame. The feeling of pride is accompanied by an outward movement and a desire to show and tell others, to exhibit or show off. Pride is expansive, both in action and in our imagination. (Barish, 2012)

 A person’s expectation of feeling proud or ashamed influences their choices. Shame lowers our hopes and causes us to avoid opportunity. Pride raises our hopes and encourages us to seek opportunities. Evolutionary psychologist, Glenn Weisfeld, told us, “We anticipate pride and shame at every turn and shape our behavior accordingly.”[1] Therefore, the social and internalized experience of disability shame is stealing opportunity from people with disabilities. This is our society’s systemic oppression of the largest and most diverse minority group in our country.

The Disability Pride Movement works against this oppression by promoting the belief that having a disability is a natural part of human diversity and seeks to boldly celebrate and value that diversity. Disability Pride is about embracing disability identity as a valued part of who a person is; it is about rejecting the concept that some groups of people are less valuable than others. Pride is about, not only the acceptance or “inclusion” of difference, but about the celebration of difference.

 For this movement to take hold, the “pride” has to be because of disability, not in spite of disability. Therefore, we cannot ignore or minimize the disability-identity in the person. We cannot euphemistically sweep it under the rug with words like “special needs.” When we tout about how people with disabilities are just the same as everyone else, and we should focus on abilities, this is shoring the idea that a disability is something to be ashamed of. This is a building block of an ableist culture. “The women’s movement does not emphasize the “maleness” of women. The LGBTQ+ movement does not emphasize the “heterosexual-ness” of gay men and women. But the disability movement does very much emphasize the “ableness” of people with disabilities” (Parsons, 1999). This ableist view of total independence and perfection not only harms and shames people with disabilities, but every person who asks for help or does not meet the ideal of perfection.

Over the course of history, we have learned two key lessons from other rights movements: The power of the collective (including allies) and the motivating force of pride. Like other minority groups, people with physical and developmental disabilities are beginning to speak up about the pride they feel within their community.

People with disabilities are emerging as artists, comedians, and vloggers with new perspectives to share about the experience of having a disability. This is the beginning of Disability Culture. If you have a disability or don’t have a disability, you can help build the momentum of Disability Pride. Share photos, tell stories, be visible and bold about disability, be loud about your humanness, diversity, and imperfection, and most importantly, celebrate one another.

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 Take a look at these videos celebrating Disability and share them everywhere!


What exactly do we mean by IDD?

March is recognized as Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, so we thought this would be a great time to explain what we mean by “Intellectual/Developmental disabilities (IDD).” Because the definitions of IDD can vary state-by-state and federally, we will talk about IDD here in general, practical terms. If you are interested in the specifics of statutes and rules, you can follow these links to read more about Colorado’s definition, Colorado’s rule change, and the Federal IDEA definition for a child with a disability.

Intellectual and Developmental disabilities refer to two disability groupings. “Developmental disability” is the broader, umbrella term and includes (but is not limited to) “Intellectual disability.”

 Developmental disabilities (DD) are a group of conditions due to a delay or impairment in cognitive ability, physical functioning, or both.

These delays begin during the developmental period (in utero until end of adolescence) and will likely last throughout a person’s lifetime. These disabilities affect the path of the individual’s physical, learning, language, or behavioral development and may likely affect day-to-day functioning. [1]

 Some Developmental disabilities are:

1) solely physical, such as blindness from birth;

2) some are both cognitive and physical, often true for people with Down syndrome;

3) and other developmental disabilities only affect cognitive abilities. In some cases, this is termed “Intellectual disability.”

Because of the diversity of ability under the umbrella of Developmental disabilities (DD), not all Developmental disabilities are considered Intellectual/Developmental disabilities.

 Intellectual disability (ID) is the most common developmental disability. Children and adults with an ID have significant difficulties in both intellectual functioning (communicating, learning, problem solving) and adaptive behavior (everyday social skills, routines, hygiene). [6] Originally, this type of disability was identified through the use of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) testing. It was generally accepted that an IQ score of 70 or lower identified a person as having an intellectual disability.

 As with most things in life, Intellectual disabilities are on a spectrum. The disability can be mild or more severe. Most people with ID (85%) have mild intellectual disabilities, live fairly self-sufficient lives, and may be difficult to identify in everyday life. While this may help with the idea of inclusion, it also can cause additional problems such as lack of access to resources, unemployment, and problems with law enforcement due to being misidentified or misunderstood.

 So why do we say “IDD”?

When we try to label and diagnose human beings in nearly any situation, it quickly becomes apparent that people don’t fit into boxes. Since there is a significant overlap between Developmental and Intellectual disabilities, and IQ tests are notoriously unreliable and biased against marginalized populations, legislators added an eligibility criteria called “adaptive behavior testing.” By looking at a person’s daily life challenges in a practical way, doctors and other diagnosticians can help identify people living with mild intellectual disabilities who may not have otherwise been identified. Therefore, we communicate about this diverse group of people as people who have Intellectual/Developmental disabilities (IDD).

Prevalence and Facts

  • 1 in 6 children in the United States have some type of developmental disability. [3] This includes ADHD and learning disabilities. [4]

  • When the definition of Developmental disability is more refined and does not include ADHD or other learning disabilities, the rate of DD in the United States is around 6%. [4]

  • 2-3% of Americans have some form of an Intellectual disability when the determination is based on an IQ score of 70 or lower. [5]

  • Cerebral Palsy (CP) is the most common motor disability in childhood. [7]

  • Intellectual Disability is the most common developmental disability. [3]

  • Males are more likely to be diagnosed with a developmental disability. [3]

  • Developmental disabilities occur among all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. [1]

  • Males are twice as likely to have any Developmental disability (DD) than females. [3]

  • Children living in poverty are more likely to have a Developmental disability. [3]

If you or someone you care about is wondering if you may have an Intellectual/Developmental Disability, read more here and let us know if you’d like to talk with an ACL Advocate to explore your options.

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