Tuesday, 13 November 2012

I have a problem with the social model of disability

That's not to say the social model of disability is flawed, it's just that there's one particular aspect that doesn't work for me.  Quite possibly I'm misunderstanding it, but either way it's giving me some pause for thought.

This model argues that we're not disabled by our condition, but by the society and infrastructure of the world around us.  People who use wheelchairs, for instance, aren't disabled by the condition which has affected their mobility, but by the stairs, crap footpaths, old buses, and the other things that prevent them from getting around using their particular mode of locomotion.

Applying this to Aspergers, we'd be talking about things like shopping centres that seem to be set up to deliberately cause sensory overload, about social convention regarding small talk and eye contact, and the odd situation whereby shouting "squee!" at a picture of a cat on a computer screen is considered normal but having a little flap when you're happy isn't.

But I'm worried that there could be a progression argued from "we're not disabled by our bodies, but by the way society's set up", to "we're not disabled".  And I think that's a dangerous path to go down.  Because, for some of us, it just is.  And whether that disability's caused by our own bodies or the way society responds to those bodies, that disability's still there.

It's a worry when it comes to ASD stuff because there are so few services for adults in the first place.  Most services that do exist are aimed at children, and dry up when their clients reach 18.  I'm concerned that anything that sounds like it's putting distance between ASD and disability could make it even harder for us to get the services and help we need.