A Credo for Persons with Disabilities

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Persons with Disabilities

I come, first, into the world as

a human being, a person.

Whatever condition I may “have,”

developmentally and emotionally,

is added to me.

But the condition is not identical with me.

Being a person is not the same as being disabled.

Thus, there are not any disabled persons.

Rather, there are only persons who are disabled.

A person’s being is always much more

than the condition he or she “has.”

Nor is being a person equivalent to being mentally ill.

Thus, there are not any mentally ill persons.

Rather, there are only persons with mental illness.

A person is always greater

– infinitely more –

than what he or she “has.”

Nor is being a person the same as being schizophrenic.

Thus, there are not any schizophrenics.

Rather, there are only persons with schizophrenia.

A person’s “who” is primary,

valued first.

A person’s “what” is secondary,

describing his or her disability or limitation.

Nor is being a person equivalent to being autistic.

Thus, there are not any autistic persons.

Rather, there are only persons with autism.

Nor is being a person the same as being bipolar.

Thus, there are not any bipolar persons.

Rather, there are only persons who are bipolar.

My person is always more than any medical or psychiatric diagnosis.

A diagnosis is about a person,

what a person “has.”

But it is not to be confused with being a person.

A person,

while describable and analyzable,

always remains mysterious, elusive.

No disability

— whether it be of the brain or any part of the body —

can ever remove from a human being

the fact of being a person.

Thus, there are not any developmentally

and emotionally challenged persons.

Rather, there are only persons who are developmentally

and emotionally challenged.

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