I remember when I was a little girl, I was interviewed for some local TV station’s show that I think was called Mike and Maddie. Or something like that. The segment was about local kids with Spina Bifida and if my memory serves correct, it was one of those “rah rah isn’t this cute handicapped kid darling” kind of shows.
It seems like most of the time when we see a person with a disability being interviewed or cast on a TV show, it’s all about their disability. The story is disability related or somehow they are being cast as the “person in a wheelchair.” The roles tend to be very stereotypical and not very full. I can think of a few examples where this wasn’t the case, and I appreciate those shows.
The latest issue of Parent Magazine changes all that and I’m incredibly excited. There’s a little girl named Emily with Spina Bifida who was interviewed about something completely unrelated to disability. She is on the cover and it’s not about “look at the cute girl with a walker” it’s “look at the cute kid.” She is depicted as a “normal” child that has interests, dreams and a fantastic personality. Oh, and she has a disability.
Laura Tellado, a blogger who writes about Spina Bifida (and who lives with herself) recently interviewed Emily’s mom about the Parent Magazine cover and how important it is that society is seeing kids with disabilities as people who fit into society, not who are just “special needs.” Read that interview here.