The disability hierarchy. It sounds like a new type of psychological babble doesn’t it? But in fact the disability hierarchy has been building up for many years now.
Some say it began after World War 1 and 2 with the return of wounded war heroes who were well respected and glorified. Others say it was much later when people were trying to gain more civil rights. Perhaps it was a mix of both? Only time and research can tell.
What is the disability hierarchy? The placement of a person on the hierarchy depends entirely on the impairment or impairments. The list goes as follows: The blind or deaf are at the top of the list because they have no serious visually seen impairments. The most obviously disabled are next in “the list”, such as people with spinal cord injuries rank higher than those with congenitally-caused conditions such as Spina Bifida, what I happen to have. Those with intellectual or developmental impairments, and mental illnesses unfortunately are at the “bottom of the pyramid”.
Christopher Reeves may have created another angle to build up the distance between certain groups in the disability hierarchy. There were numerous reports that he felt like he was burden, which many disabled feel like from time to time. He took it further though by constantly whining about his problems and apologizing to people far too much. He failed to realize that along with finding a cure he needed to also be fighting to obtain more rights for those with disabilities. Also He failed to make people recognize those with disabilities need to have better access to many public areas, which includes sidewalk and building access. All this aside, he complained so much that it knocked those with spinal cord injuries down another notch. No one wants to sit around complaining after all.
How can those with disabilities put down others in the “same wagon” as them just based on the type of disability they have? The simple truth is, we’re all human, even those of us with untold amounts of metal inside our bodies, we’re still human. Those who are physically disabled may avoid being around those who are mentally challenged, because of the idea some able bodied have. That idea being that those with physical disabilities must be mentally challenged as well, and I have unfortunately encountered that stance many times and indeed it does make things much more difficult. Those with disabilities have to try even more to prove to the world that they are just the same as anyone else because of the able-bodied who are uninformed. Therefore some end up distancing themselves from anyone who may appear to be mentally challenged, which is truly a shame and another notch down on the disability hierarchy.