The other day, I was waiting for a friend at the station, when I found this lady staring right at me. To cut the awkwardness I smiled and said: “Hi there.” To which she replied with something like, “oh hi, you little BabygirlCutiePatootieSugarPieCoochiCoo.”
As funny as it may sound, just as weird it felt. Mind you, this wasn’t the only time I was treated as a child. I can’t even remember the number of times it has happened to me now. And it feels weird each and every time. I am 21 now. Yet, people baby talk to me after realizing that I am disabled. Random people come up to me and literally start talking in gibberish/pull my cheeks/pat my head and “bless me“/go “Awwwww“, treating me as a baby.
Every time I make a decision, there are people who hop out of nowhere only to remind me that I’m ‘not capable enough’ and that my decisions should be “made for me” by OTHERS. That I’m just a disabled “child” and making my own decisions apparently wouldn’t be a smart thing to do. On the days when I’m allowed to make decisions, I am also asked to think a hundred times before it.
I was in the metro with some of my friends. we were casually talking when some uncle came up to us and asked my friend “Are you with her? “What happened to her?” “Is she a student?” As if it were already not awkward getting asked questions like these, that on top of it, they were asked to my friend and not to me (even though they were directed at me).
At parties/events, or when I’m casually hanging out with my friends/family, people do this a lot of times. Instead of directly talking to me, they end up asking questions about me, to the person who’s with me. Perhaps assuming that the person who’s accompanying me will be better able to understand and communicate with them.
One may not even realize when they’re infantilizing a disabled person and, in turn, are also oblivious to the harm they’re doing while they’re at it. While it may come from the intentions of treating me (and other disabled people) with respect, what it really does is, end up making me feel small and disrespected.
For the hundredth time, I AM 21 AND NOT 2! You don’t have to be extra hesitant, extra sweet, extra careful. Just treat us with the same respect you would with others!