Books to start discussing the social model of disability!
Quick Things You Need To Know:
- I’m trying to make my articles accessible off Facebook. So I’ll include that below. But first- books!
Quick & Messy Book List:
- Not Quite Narwhal – Sima – this is perfect and i love it. Cute, funny, and simple enough for 3 but entertaining for adults and older kids. The challenges the little unicorn faces trying to do narwhal things feels suuuper validating. Simple story but a sense of adventure – a lot packed into a very short book. Additional keywords: unicorns, narwhals, validating for neurodiversity & invisible disabilit. I’ve seen a lot of these pop up as books for coding transracial adoption, but it eels…wrong. So don’t use it for that.
- Quackers – wong – Quackers thinks he’s a duck just like all the other ducks, until he meets a cat. he hates getting wet, all the food ducks eat, and can’t communicate with the ducks, but is way better at doing cat stuff. still misses and loves his duck friends and family, so goes back to them, but becomes a part of both groups. This is similar to Not Quite Narwhal but less memorable. makers of color. AAPI maker
- Bunnybear – same idea, but clumsier and not as entertaining
- Normal Norman – lazar- junior scientist tries to use normal gorilla as example of normalcy, but he keeps doing abnormal stuff. she finally gives up and joins him. Additional keywords: STEAM
- The Tiny Tale of Little Pea – how he didn’t see it as a bad thing to be tiny until he started school (social model of disability) and his teachers worried about how he would grow up. turned out he became a stamp artist, which felt like an underwhelming ending and the kids were like “uhh,so?” but the overall message of social disability, and the stress of adults when he ends up as a perfectly happy adult so long as accommodations are made for him work well. he has a great and fun adventurous childhood because his size gives him opportunities bigger kids can’t get. “It wasn’t until Little Pea started school that he realized he was too small. Too small for his chair… Too small to play flute [recorder]… too small for gym class… even too small for his plate!” “Poor Little Pea. What will become of him? his teacher wondered. And then Little Pea grew up. (But not much bigger.) He built himself a cozy house and now grows tomatoes in his yard. He rides his car to work every day. Everything in his studio has been custom-made just for him.” “One can never be too small to be a GREAT artist!” we see how in school because he has trouble keeping up with the big kids he spends his time drawing – and then it circles back around to the end on how that gave him skills to be a good artist. illustrations made 4 & 6 giggle, but didn’t want to read it more than a couple times. 4 liked it more than 6.
- The Fox And The Stork – mcDermott – fox invites stork to dinner, but serves stork on a plate so he doesn’t have to share. Stork gets retribution by serving soup in an urn with a tall narrow neck. while it works well for inclusion and the social model of disability, I’d love to find it from an author who didn’t blatantly rip off the story from another culture. Still searching for an #OwnVoices version. Very simple beginning reader. Additional keywords: cultural appropriation, tricksters
- The Boy Who Loved Math (Paul Erdos)- Did an article about this book when discussing interdependence. That’s over here.
- Odd boy out (Albert Einstein)- brown & I Am Albert Einstein (Meltzer) – Einstein would be a perfect example for this list, but still haven’t found a great book about him. Prefer the one by brad meltzer. Boh are fine, but not great. Neither are stories, lean toward didactic. Both contain narratives of how he’s odd/weird/whatever, but in the end he’s remembered not for those things, but for being a genius. Which is fine, I guess, but not worth reading. Ages 4+ disability history, jewish history
Before we talk about lofty stuff like disability rights and autism acceptance (not bewareness), we need to understand the social model of disability.
WELCOME TO THE SOCIAL MODEL OF DISABILITY
Imagine, for a moment, we lived in a dystopian nightmare world where something about your body or identity was deemed ‘unhealthy.’
(hahah no I’m just kidding you don’t have to imagine that dystopia, because we’re in it right now. Something about your body or brain is considered a bad way to be here. It feels super shitty, doesn’t it?)
By the MEDICAL MODEL OF DISABILITY, a disabled body or mind (as well as a fat one, a short one, a non-white one, an intersex one, basically anything that doesn’t conform to movie actor shape) is an inferior vessel.
Unhealthy = ew. Bad body! Bad brain! Emergency!
It needs not just tending to, support, and accommodations, it requires FIXING.
By the SOCIAL MODEL OF DISABILITY:
Disabilities don’t make a person lesser.
We are not inferior, we are not to be pitied.
We are a normal variation in humanity. Like having green eyes or being lefties.
So what do we do when our kids fail to conform? When they don’t fit our view of ‘normal?’
What happens if our children destroy our dreams for a perfect family by being born ‘the other?’
(Hint: do NOT start a mommy blog about how much you hate your child. Seriously. F-ing stop it.)
In many cultures, we try to brute-force lefties into writing with their right hand.
We put fat kids on liquid diets, submit intersex infants to medically unnecessary reassignment surgery before they’re old enough to consent, refuse to teach deaf kids sign language, and give autistic kids bleach enemas and compliance training.
So we can make them ‘better.’ For their own good. So they can rise to ‘normal’ levels.
Living in a world not designed for you IS dangerous, it IS stressful, and traumatic. Struggling constantly, frantically, to fit in – all of this takes a toll.
Also we die younger. Beyond physical ailments. Stress is a great pathway to an early grave.
Does it HAVE to be though? What if instead of constantly pressuring a child to be something they are not, we accepted them and made reasonable accommodations so they can live?
Of course we know what happens when a group of folks fails to comply and pass – we just don’t count. We don’t get equal rights, because we’re not trying hard enough to ‘earn’ them.
It’s easier to warehouse us institutions, neglect and torture us. To ignore us whey we cry out and scream that you’re hurting us.
WHY TO FIGHT FOR THE SOCIAL MODEL OF DISABILITY
Forcing lefties to pretend to be righties makes them clumsier and much more likely to have an accident with a power drill.
So what if we just…made power drills that can be operated with either hand?
What if we defaulted to ramps instead of stairs?
What if we normalized inclusive learning practices in the classroom?
What if we stopped calling the cops just because we saw a teenager flapping their hands?
The question is – how much of the burden to change do we put on the individual to conform and comply, and how much do we confront our own bias?
What obligation do we have to fix a broken system that marginalizes and targets people who don’t move, think, or behave like we do?
Obviously forcing our children with disabilities into compliance is EASIER than changing the world. And likely, you’re a parent with your own invisible challenges to handle, and you just CAN’T do anything but shame and stigmatize your child into submission.
But is that actually true?
Most parents have the power to push back in some way. If you’re here – you’ve got an internet connection, you’ve got a voice, you’ve got the time to scroll through a facebook feed, to call your reps, to stop centering your own voice and listen to actually-disabled adults.
You’ve got the power to push back against the medical model of disability. To raise holy hell in demanding inclusion, accessibility, and equal rights for ALL children and adults with disabilities, for all people who fail to – or radically refuse to – comply.