By: Daniella Jade Lowe
Danny was a young Para-Superhero. Nobody had seen or even heard of a neurodiverse superhero. He had an adaptive costume for all occasions. His wheelchair was faster than the speed of lightning.
Being born as a Para-Superhero, made Danny quite the ‘oddball.’ He was birthmarked to defy genetic dispositions. He demanded respect wherever he went.
As a Para-Superhero he always wanted to prove people wrong which made him ambitious.
‘A superhero is supposed to save the day,’ he thought.
‘How can I save the day as a Para-Superhero?’ Danny thought to himself.
Unfortunately he inherited the nickname, ‘supercrip.’
As Danny got older he could not tolerate the stigma that came with being a Para-Superhero. Too many titles from society caused him to lose who he was. As a result, he suffered an ‘identity crisis.’
Danny already dealt with physical limitations. He didn’t want people’s labels too. It brought intersectionality to his personality.
The mainstream world saw Danny as ‘privileged’ but ‘abnormal’ when all he wanted was ‘acceptance’ which often led to discrimination.
‘What is normal?’ Danny would think to himself.
‘Normal is the setting on a dryer!’ he concluded.
This one stereotype has repeated itself so much that it resounds like a broken record to Danny.
His mother reminded him, ‘It’s not about what they call you, it’s what you answer to!’
Stereotypes were his handicap. Danny had two options, either take life lying down or be motivated to live up to his own goals and expectations. So he started a war on stereotypes with archetypes.This war included fighting against exploitation of disabilities, deformities, misconceptions, and negative portrayal of disabilities. ‘Disability is not a taboo!’ he said. Inclusion is not a delusion.
- Heroes don’t need to overcome their disabilities.
- Wheelchairs aren’t exclusively for older people.
- We are not “inspiration porn”.
- Who said you need to walk in order to be a hero?
‘Stereotypes exist, definitely, but that’s why we should listen to the individual voices of disabled people over non-disabled charity voices’ Danny said!Danny says, ‘Let me tell you how to deal with the terrible power of stereotypes.’ ‘Disable the label!’ Assumptions are lazy. Statistics should not affect status.
- Change the stereotypes. Challenge the ‘status quo.’ Upset the fruit basket. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
- Buffer the stereotype threat through shifting self perception to positive self affirmation.
- Reframe the stereotype threatening task as a challenge. See a stereotype as a chance to prove people wrong instead of getting offended over it.
- Reinterpret the anxiety that comes with stereotype threats. In other words, ‘don’t take it personal’ and make bold steps to overcome them.