Contributed by Odera Tait
This is a humanities moment because I think we have a habit of labeling normality which can be helpful in some cases (e.g. diagnosis) but on the other hand when we label what is “normal” we have a tendency to equate that with respect and thus what is not normal is undeserving of that respect (e.g. Quasimodo). I think we often do that with disabled people. Whether it's infantilizing them because we think they're a burden/can't take care of themselves or ostracizing because we’re not used to interacting with differences in a positive way. I am grateful for the years I spent with that girl because she made me realize that to idealize a certain perspective is to dent humanity to those who do not fit and there will always be those who do not fit because it's our differences that color the world and connect us.
It's not often that we interact with people that have disabilities. When I was in elementary school my mother worked in homecare and took care of a young girl. She was the same age as me but she didn't have the ability to communicate, walk, or even feed herself on her own. I would often frequent her house after school and I remember the first time I had met her. I was very awkward. I didn't know what to do with someone so different from me. Over time I became more comfortable around her. We would watch TV and play around. There was one day in particular that I remember with particular clarity. My mom had taken the her to see me perform in a choir at an event. I went to a performing arts elementary school so there was also a performance from the orchestra. I don't remember what they played. All I can remember was her contorted face streamed with tears. My mom went on a walk with her outside to calm her down and I remember a couple days later asking my mom what happened to the girl and she told me “the music made her sad”.