Hand wearing a black stabilising glove, pink nail varnish on nails

Image from Beth Steventon-Crinks' 'stabilised.', see the full set here

Disability History Month - International Day of Disabled Persons
Blog by DaDa x NSDF company-member, Beth Steventon-Crinks

So today is International Day of Disabled Persons, I find the phrasing of it rather peculiar - but I think a lot of people find me rather peculiar. It is also Disability History Month 2021, with its joint themes this year being’ Disability and Hidden Impairments’ and ‘Disability, Sex and Relationships’.

Invisible disabilities are forgotten about, we know this. But what I always find confusing is when medical professionals get it wrong. Example: I went for my booster jab.

Health care assistant: So your finally here for you first vaccination.

Me: it’s my booster.

Healthcare assistant: Ah I see, so what’s wrong with you?

Me: Do you mean why am I getting the booster jab?

I then explain my medical conditions and they jab away. I don’t consider my health conditions ‘problems’, and I’m left sad that they do.  

Every day I see the confusion around hidden disabilities, so instead of writing a blog about them I thought I would explore the other theme for this years Disability History Month (sex and relationships) instead – and as someone who grew up in the church, there is always something kind of novel and risqué about sex as a subject. But sex and disabled people? That’s not new to me, that is just how I have sex.

stabilised. is a six-part photography series that I curated and modelled. My friend, photographer and fellow juicy bits member, Hayley Salter, took the images.

I love the idea of playing with the rope and the idea of control, looking at how stabilising the muscles through a splint reduces my pain and provides control over own life. It is worth nothing that I am not disabled my pain, but by the fact I have to send sooooooooooo many emails and it hurts my wrists.

When friends agree to voice note, we converse happily. When its texting, slowly our conversations stop as my thumb begins to ache and I need to prioritise work emails, meaning we loose touch. With one friend, I exclusively send little videos throughout the day – this also helps with object permanence.

The series also explores the neurodivergent joy of deep pressure touch. Ah yes, Neurodiversity, my other ‘problem’.

I had some Disability Awareness (awareness? It should be Equality….) Training that said that Neurodiverse people:

-          Like putting things in rows, so are suited to warehouse jobs.

-          Like computers: so are suited to admin tasks.

-          Because we like things (like most people do…) we can be valuable member of a pub quiz team.

Apart from it being all round bullshit and ableist as hell, it didn’t talk about was joy. Ever seen a neurodiverse person at a rave? No drugs needed! I can feel EVERYTHING. The stimulation is amazing, full bodied and immersive. And so is sex…. (sorry Mum and Dad). Sometimes that stimulation is too much, if I’ve had days of meetings, typing (achy wrists) and I’m tired, I will need to stop*. Whilst other times I want a person I love to put their entire body weight on me as I decompress under their deep pressure.

My pain, tiredness, overstimulation etc. are not fun. But working from home has made me fully see that I am not a ‘problem’, instead the world and the way that nondisabled people live in it is a problem for me. Be it physically barriers i.e making me type when my wrists can’t handle it, or attitudinal barriers ‘so what’s wrong with you?’ it’s not me that is the ‘problem’.

So what can you do, dear allies?

-          Do a little google (or other search engine as preferred) into the Social Model of Disability.

-          Consult disabled people (pay them!)

-          Be cautious of consulting with organisations that work with disabled people who aren’t disabled themselves - just work directly with disabled people! Are they making meaningful space to develop disabled people into positions of leadership? Or do they think we’re ‘cute’ and need their charity? That’s like asking someone’s mum about them rather than the people themselves, oh wait, we do that with disabled people as well.

My leaving note on this International Day of Disabled Persons is that it’s not awareness that we want and neither is it charity. But rather it’s advocacy in a system designed for them, the non-disabled’s. If anything, I want their apology….

And if anyone wants me on their pub quiz team? I’m shit. Don’t ask me. But I’m a good laugh over a pint, so I’m happy to join.

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