Letter to the Editor – May 2007

Attitudes Still Changing Thank you for reviewing the survey recently completed by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities showing […]

Attitudes Still Changing

Thank you for reviewing the survey recently completed by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities showing improved public attitudes towards this group (“Happy to Pay for Full Integration,” Access Press, March 10, 2007). Congratulations to the advocates and self-advocates whose words, actions and lives made this shift happen.

I was especially interested in the comments of JoAnn Erbes that people with cerebral palsy are “not happy being lumped with people who have intellectual disabilities under the label ‘developmental disability’ and see it as ‘a putdown’.”

I agree with JoAnn. At the same time, I see this unfortunate attitude changing, and changing a lot. Increasingly, people with intellectual, physical, and emotional disabilities are realizing we all have many things in common. We now work alongside each other to make sure public attitudes continue to become more positive toward us all, toward all people with disabilities. I, and I think many others, are not offended and do not feel putdown if associated with people who have other types of disabilities.

When people mistake me as having exactly the same characteristics and support needs as a person with intellectual, or any other type of disability that is not my own, I don’t see it as a putdown but a misunderstanding that I may need to correct. As I hold bad feelings toward other people with disabilities, I’m putting myself down. I am confident that many, if not most, people with disabilities feel this way too.

John Smith