Respectfully Connected: The Lady on the Plane [Repost]

“I’m hopeful that maybe that woman slept a little bit more soundly, more restfully than she has in many years. Because she now knows that her grandson is exactly who he is supposed to be, and that it isn’t anyone’s fault, but just life as it is meant to be.”

I fly alone at least twice each year. Sometimes I focus on my music or my laptop during those flights. Other times, I strike up conversations with seatmates. Usually these conversations are brief and inconsequential. But as this post reveals, sometimes a chance conversation with a stranger on a plane can change that person’s life.

Even in todays “information age,” misinformation about disabilities abounds. In fact, the ready availability of answers with a single Google search allows misinformation to spread without its credibility being questioned. Much of the misinformation about disabilities surrounds their causes, fueling the centuries-old notion that family members are to be blamed for a child’s disability. Sometimes, the best people to correct such myths are those of us who live with disabilities and see them as a natural part of the human condition.

The author of this week’s post, Morénick, is an autistic woman in a multicultural, neurodiverse, serodifferent family of color. She describes a chance conversation on a plane, where she assured her seatmate that immunizations didn’t cause her grandson’s autism, but more than that, that her grandson is OK as he is. By briefly presenting correct information and the wisdom of lived experience, she interrupted a cycle of guilt and fear that was based on misinformation.

Sometimes I feel discouraged when I look at the depth of ableism around us, and wonder what I, just one person, can do. Perhaps the answer is in those chance meetings that pop up when we are just out living our lives. We never know how much a stranger might need our wisdom.

The Lady on the Plane

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