ALL NEWS

Opinion: Looking at disability differently

Jul 26, 2021, 2:17 PM | Updated: Aug 30, 2022, 3:20 pm
disability differently...
KSL NewsRadio host Amanda Dickson with her daughter Laurel. (Amanda Dickson)
(Amanda Dickson)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

It was on this day, July 26th, in 1990 that then-President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act, the ADA is an equal opportunity law for people with disabilities. I suppose I feel more emotionally invested than some in this topic because I have two children with disabilities. My oldest daughter has Down Syndrome and my youngest son has a condition called Noonan’s Syndrome.

I write today, 31 years after the passage of the ADA, to ask the question – what is a disability? I’m sure there are legal definitions for purposes of the law, like what kind of impairment would qualify for social security disability coverage, etc. But that’s not what I’m asking.

As I look at my children, their disabilities are visible, Laurel’s more so than Aiden’s–but they are visible. You can tell they might have trouble reading or speaking. You can see something in the shape of their eyes or their height that “looks off.” Other people may need a wheelchair or a service dog to get around. Their disabilities are similarly visible.

But what about the person who cannot forgive? Is that a disability? Or the person who cannot love with her whole heart? Cannot say “I love you” easily? Or the person who cannot hug without feeling pain? Are these disabilities? They certainly aren’t likely to be listed in any DSM, but I wonder if they prevent a whole life as much or more than some of my children’s disabilities.

Does a person who hurts others purposely, whether in word or deed, suffer from a disability as much as a person who struggles to read? I would argue “yes.”

As I’ve watched my five children learn and grow, there have been times when I’ve thought one or another of the three without a diagnosed disability were disabled, usually because they struggled to forgive or let go of resentment.

Laurel is not capable of resentment. She does not hold a grudge. She cannot hate. I can remember a few tense dinners when someone was mad at someone and you could cut the tension with a knife, and Laurel would say in her happiest tone, “So – how is everybody doing?” We had to crack up. We had to let go of our misplaced anger. How can I call such a talented human being disabled? And yet she is the one society considers less than.

I ask you to reconsider how you think of the word disabled. We all have abilities, and we all have disabilities. What are your yours? How can we engage more meaningfully with our disabled brothers and sisters? How can we learn to speak with them and not over them? I consider myself richly blessed by both Laurel and Aiden. I wish you could know them both. Their purity of spirit blesses my life in ways I’m sure I don’t deserve, but I will always cherish. 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

Lehi City officials have closed a portion of westbound 1500 North to repair a large sinkhole. On it...
Simone Seikaly

Large sinkhole shuts down portion of westbound1500 North in Lehi

Lehi City officials said the sinkhole formed on 1500 North due to a water leak.
15 hours ago
Five former Memphis police officers who were fired for their actions during the arrest of Tyre Nich...
Eric Levenson, Melissa Alonso and Chris Boyette, CNN

Five former Memphis police officers indicted on charges of murder

The former officers were each charged with second-degree murder and aggravated assault among other charges.
15 hours ago
FILE: Taylorsville High School is pictured on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020....
Simone Seikaly

Lockdown lifted at Taylorsville High, no injuries after shots fired

Shots were reportedly fired in the parking lot of Taylorsville High School on Thursday afternoon, leading to lockdown and lockout procedures.
15 hours ago
UDOT traffic cam around 11:50 a.m.
(Utah Department of Traffic)...
Elizabeth Weiler

Elk stopping traffic on Foothill Drive near I-80

SALT LAKE CITY — Westbound Interstate 80 is experiencing delays of up to 18 minutes because a large herd of elk is attempting to cross into the foothills.  On Thursday afternoon, Salt Lake City Police tweeted that they, along with the Utah HighwayPatrol, were helping the Division of Wildlife Resources wrangle this elk herd. Our […]
15 hours ago
A new service called Cottonwood Connect could address parking problems at the ski resorts in Big an...
Kate Davis and Simone Seikaly

Cottonwood Connect offers a new way to get up Cottonwood Canyons

The goal is to fill gaps left when UTA limited ski bus service. The shuttle will run Thursday through Sunday through mid-April.
15 hours ago
White carnations representing each of the 1,746 unborn babies that were aborted in Utah in 2022 are...
Allessandra Harris and Simone Seikaly

Speeches, silence, during Pro-Life Utah memorial at the Capitol

About 100 people including Utah lawmakers and religious leaders attended the memorial on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
Opinion: Looking at disability differently