We are very pleased to share the following article with all of you written by Laura Palka.
Laura lives in Canton Ohio; she is not only a writer, but she also creates handmade jewelry and cat toys which she sells at various stores including here on Crafted Elegance.
Laura's passion and love of creating shines through in all she does and we feel blessed to have her as both an artist and contributing writer to Artsy Crafters.
We hope you enjoy her article and we welcome everyone to comment on her article below.
One subject of outrage for many Americans is the unfortunate level of fraud to be found within the many government assistance programs. There is no lack of people who are more than willing to float through life on the taxpayers' dime. Ironically, they work just as hard finding loopholes and trying not to get caught as they would having a regular job.
In the month of July, 2012 the number of citizens receiving Social Security disability who are under the age of 65 numbered 7,826,000 (Social Security Monthly Statistical Snapshot, July 2012). How many of these almost 8 million people are legitimately disabled? Of course, that is impossible to establish. Certainly, we must be confident that the vast majority of these recipients qualify.
But our outrage and suspicions of who is and who isn't disabled can carry an even bigger social stigma. That is, one of a harsh moral judgment to those who simply do not look disabled.
Ask yourself ... what comes into your mind when you think of what a disabled person looks like? Is that person you're imagining in a wheelchair? Are they "speaking" in sign language? Are they walking with a cane? Do they seem severely mentally challenged? Are they missing a limb?
Many people believe that the term "disability" only applies to people who use a walker or a wheelchair. This is simply not the case. In fact, in a 1994-1995 survey, it was found that while roughly 26 million Americans qualified for severe disabilities, however only 1.8 million Americans needed to use a wheelchair or a walker. This means that the vast majority of disability cases are known as "invisible disabilities." These include such disabilities as chronic fatigue, chronic dizziness, chronic pain and mental illness.
Think of this scenario. Have you ever seen someone get out of a car parked in a space reserved for the disabled, who did not LOOK disabled? How did that make you feel? Did you give them a dirty look or in some way show your disapproval? I'm ashamed to admit, I have done this before in the past, many times - out of complete ignorance.
Many get very upset by the sight of a seemingly mobile person taking the space of someone who is truly in need of it. However, in our efforts to help those who deserve these parking spaces, we actually may be hurting someone who has a legitimate need to park there. How can this be true, you ask? Isn't it obvious who does and who does not have a disability? The answer is ... no.
As we can see, people with a diversity of disabilities may qualify to park in these spots. As previously noted, not all impairments are readily noticeable to an onlooker. The severe challenges they face may not be conspicuous at a glance, but their pain, limitations and inability to function normally can be debilitating.
We can remember this as a cautionary tale before judging any individual as to whether or not we feel they are disabled. Who are we to judge? And what is the danger of judging them in error? Do we really want to add emotional pain to their physical pain?
Instead, let's be supportive, reach out a hand if someone needs it, and if that person chooses not to accept it, then no harm done. Either way, the world will be a better place.
Author, Laura Palka