Before I used a wheelchair, I’d never heard the term ableism. I didn’t realize the privilege my physical abilities gave me. I thought, at age 18, everyone was basically like me and if they weren’t, I figured they adapted or opted out of participating.
Ableism is a form of discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities. Being able-bodied is seen as the only norm in our society. People are socialized to uphold this norm and are seen as less than, if they cannot.
Ableism is so prevalent in our youth-orientated society, that as people age they become hyper-vigilant and highly sensitive to changes in their memory, hearing, sight, continence and mobility. Some internalize feeling bad about themselves; comparing their former physically-able selves with their less physically-able current selves. Their focus is on what they’ve lost not their strengths.