On Disabilities And The Need For Social Acceptance


Just recently, there’s been quite a reaction to the news regarding an autistic girl who was barred from a school trip because she was autistic. Reading up on the incident, I learned that what really happened was that one student refused to share a room with the poor girl because of her condition. Apparently, the other students even went on defend their classmate and claim that the autistic girl shouldn’t be allowed to join them on their trip at all as she may need more attention than say, “normal” kids like them. The parents of the autistic girl felt offended by this gesture and complained to the faculty about the other students’ behavior.

I’ve already written an article with a theme similar to this but, this time, I’m going to focus more on kids with disabilities. Thing is, the incident mentioned in the paragraph above took place in Italy, a country considered by many to be progressive and is even a place chosen by many of our countrymen to be an ideal place to make a living. Now consider a place like the Philippines, a land wherein outdated beliefs and prejudiced thinking seem to be all the rage, and one can only imagine how nightmarish it must be for special needs and disabled children in our country.

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In the previous article mentioned in the second paragraph, I described a conversation I had with a vendor at our school. She was rather perplexed why a seemingly normal teenager would want to associate with mute teens simply because they were different from them. Granted, if you’re a person who knows me personally, you might learn soon enough that I’m not normal at all but that’s beyond the point. The thing is, what I didn’t like about the vendor’s question was that, for her at least, being “different” was grounds enough not to hang out with someone. For people like her, “normal” people shouldn’t watch movies with deaf people simply because they can’t hear. For people like her, “normal” people shouldn’t have lunch with mute people simply because they can’t talk vocally. For people like her, “normal” people shouldn’t make friends with mentally or socially handicapped people as they have little to offer to society in general anyway.

Ladies and gentlemen, I find it deplorable just how prejudiced a lot of our countrymen are to the less fortunate in our society. It’s more than a little sad that there are still those of us who see handicaps or disabilities as punishments from the Lord (which is one reason I’m very disappointed in many of our narrow-minded fellows) rather than as a challenge from God for us to be more tolerant and kind in the way we treat those not as blessed as ourselves. As a matter of fact, I find it both infuriating and depressing that there are a lot of self-proclaimed “normal” Pinoys who don’t even see the handicapped as fellow human beings at all.

If we truly want to be seen as a “progressive” people then I think it’s time we behaved progressively. Let us treat handicapped people as fellow citizens of our beloved country who, while they might not experience the world like we do, are still our countrymen all the same. Let us learn to see one another not just for what we are in society but also for who we are as human beings.

12 Replies to “On Disabilities And The Need For Social Acceptance”

  1. It will take a long time, for most Filipinos, to accept people with disabilities. If you are disabled; you are not a “Normal” human being to them.

    It is in educating Filipinos, that , they can accept people with disabilities. Disabled people are human beings, also.

    Anyway, people had elected, a President who is mentally retarded. That maybe a progress, in the accepting disabled people. Another candidate, Mar Roxas,who is also slightly mentally retarded and fully incompetent, is running for President. Enough is enough for disabled people…we have gone too far enough…

  2. If we are not an over populated country with a population of over 110 million including OFWs in a land area of 300thou square kilometers ( compared to Sweden with a a little over 9 million people with an area of 450thou square kilometers or New Zealand with 6 million population with an area as big as the Philippines) fiercely competing for scarce resources and opportunities, I think the average Filipino would be like the Swedes and the Kiwis.

    In Philippine society, the gentler kinder citizens are usually those who have the best education nurtured by understanding parents who are blessed financially. The great majority are so busy for their survival that the PWDs are forgotten.

    Blame it on the religiously dogma of the Roman Catholic Church heirarchy with their altar boys like Senator Sotto who think there is nothing wrong with Filipinos mulriplying like rabbits.????

  3. It might help when ‘great’ institutions like IOC will start allowing all athletes compete with each other. Meaning, those from the Para-olympics with the ‘normal’ Olympics. Except for maybe the Blade-runner what we will see then is a circus-act. And thats what IOC doenst want. Hence, they will have 2 seperate Olympics.

    BTW: we all are different. We are not the same. Even the ‘normal’ ones are different. And thank god, we are different.

    1. Your “olympics” scenario is not the same as a school trip event. In a sporting event, these kinds of abilities do matter. But, a simple school trip can be shared even by people with mental disabilities such as above.

      1. Felipe,
        I know. But when we see how ‘normal’ athletes mix together with those with a disability it may trigger the same in daily circumstances.
        Although our famous Blade-runner (Pistorius) killed his own girlfriend. So there are rolemodels and there are rolemodels.

  4. While progressive cultures continually explore various approaches to practice “inclusivity” by incorporating their more vulnerable & mentally disabled members into their “normal” activities & way of life, many in our own Pinoy society still display a lot of this ignorant attitude towards folks who have this condition.

    Unless it’s highly probable that this arrangement would pose a risk to either the autistic girl or the roommate, I don’t see why a few accommodations could not be done so as not to deprive her (as well as roommate) of this learning experience.

    Now, what is the faculty doing to educate the rest of the batch on compassion, understanding, or humane treatment toward this marginalized individual (who didn’t ask to be born this way)?

  5. Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.

  6. We fail to mention what is done in a lot of other countries like the USA. They tried to include the special children in all activities, but first make a decision based on three questions. 1. how does this benefit the child? 2. how will this benefit the child’s classmates. 3. Will the feelings of either the child of the classmates cause a negative experience that can cause long term bad effects. This case has caused the 3 question to come full bearance. The classmates and their family are now going to have resentment and bad feelings towards all disabilities now. The child is going to have the same feelings also.

    1. I remember reading about things like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the U.S., which so far has no equivalent in the Philippines. I’ve also read about “deinstitutionalization,” where the U.S. closed a lot of mental institutions to “save money,” and it resulted in a lot of patients becoming homeless and destitute because their families are gone or don’t want to take them in. I’m also of the impression that right-wing elements in the U.S. want to get rid of benefits for people with disabilities and just leave them to their devices, using the reason of protecting their “way of life.”

      Sadly, people with disabilities will be seen as pariahs in many countries because of the extra effort needed to accommodate them and them become productive members of society. And other people hate these accommodations for PWDs, and prefer that money spent for these should be spent for other things – which the haters don’t reveal as enriching themselves.

      1. Chino F you are kinda of right but under the wrong impression. many mental health facilities that were religious based were closed down. The laws also changed now to move mental health people to what is know as group homes so that they including children can now have as close to a family experience as possible. If you look on job forecast. The home mental health aide has been the biggest growing profession in the last few years, because of the laws to move PWD away from hospital living into family based living. There are even special jobs for people with disabilities and companies like Wal-Mart who hire these people.

        1. Thanks for that explanation, William. I did get the idea that “deinstitutionalization” was a mixed bag, and the focus was now on helping families provide care for their own. I wonder though about for those whose families are rejected or absent. I’m sure there are steps being taken to address those, though perhaps some gaps in care still remain. Part of the territory, I guess.

      2. It’s not so much as preserving their way of life as it is just a twisted form of “practicality.” Why waste tax dollars to care for people who are pretty much “needless baggage” in society?

        In a way, it makes sense, but when the US spends more money on frivolous things like trying to parade their military around the world, it’s rather hypocritical.

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