January 7, 2008
SCHUYLER'S MONSTER: On Language
Rob: You know, one thing I have taken some heat for in the past, and will again in the future with this book, I'm sure, is the fact that I don't really have much use for "gentle" or "correct" language where disability is concerned. And I know that's very important to some people. You know, terms like "special" or "challenged" or "differently abled" instead of disabled. And I understand why that's important. It's never been a good fit for us. I refer to Schuyler as "broken" and her disability we refer to as her "monster". So I guess it's different for us.
I guess the thing that I don't understand completely is, how that type of gentle language helps the person with the disability. I suspect that it is more for the rest of us, the rest of society. It helps us integrate them and deal with it, deal with something that's hard.
And I don't know that it should be easy, actually. I don't know that it should be something that gets to be sugarcoated, because it is difficult, and the things that these people go through every day, it's not something that we should easily deal with. It should be something that we're always aware of how hard that is.
You know, in the past, people have asked me, they'll say "How do you think Schuyler will react one day when she reads that you thought she was broken?" You know, that she'll take some offense at the kind of language that we've used. I don't think she will react at all. I certainly don't think she'll be surprised. I don't think she'll feel like she's been deceived all this time.
We are very straightforward with Schuyler about her disability, and she fights it. She brings the fight every day, without any illusions, but also without any expectations that there's something that she can't do. She knows what she has to fight, and she knows that a thing that is broken is a thing that can be fixed. And a situation that requires this kind of work, she's exactly the person to do that kind of work.
So I think if Schuyler reads that one day, she's going to know that I understood, and I cared. I loved her, I loved her enough to take up this fight with her.