PSA: Disabled people’s vulnerabilities are not here for your entertainment.
As an autistic person, I spend a lot of time with social skills. I’d like to start off with some social skills that you may have learned in childhood. I’m betting that these are fairly non-controversial statements:
- Do not pull a cat’s tail. That’s mean.
- Do not kick dogs.
- Do not slam the door on your pet’s tail.
- Do not blow a high-pitched dog whistle loudly into a dog’s ear.
- Always treat animals with kindness.
Now I’m going to say another social skill, which is apparently less important to some people:
- You should treat disabled people with kindness.
Along the way, sometimes it gets forgotten or ignored that people like me also have thoughts and feelings. And people will treat actual humans far, far worse than they would treat an animal.
Hurting people is always wrong. Even if something doesn’t hurt you, if someone says it is painful to them, you need to stop it.
In praxis, this means:
- Do not grab an autistic person from behind to make them wail. That’s mean.
- Do not try to trigger unreality in a psychotic person. That’s mean.
- Do not tell your dog to jump on someone with zoophobia, do not throw fake spiders at someone with arachnophobia, and do not show a graphic injury to someone who is terrified of blood. That’s mean.
- Do not slam doors or fire guns to make someone with PTSD jump. That’s mean.
- Do not show triggering pictures to someone with a mental illness, without warning them first, to make them cry or “get over it already.” That’s mean.
- Do not mimic someone’s ticcing or try to make them do it more for your entertainment. That’s mean.
- Do not upset someone on purpose, whether they are obviously disabled, secretly disabled, or not disabled. That’s mean.
- Do respect other people’s pain. If they say that hurts, believe them. Don’t do it more to watch their reaction.
Some might say that this is the Thought Police trying to control you. It’s not illegal to think that it is fun to hurt people. You won’t be carted off to jail for intentionally making someone cry.
But people won’t trust you, any more than I’d trust an adult who pulls cats’ tails for fun. Because it’s a sure sign that you aren’t a decent human being.
And to the people who don’t do this: if you see someone else doing it, please ask them to knock it off. Bullies might not listen to disabled people, because they might not care what disabled people say. But they may listen to someone else. Please don’t let them keep tormenting their victim.
Please consider sharing this with your friends, to remind them how important it is to stand up to bullying, no matter what it looks like.