It doesn’t take “a saint” to love someone with a disability.

A harsh, short essay about something I could write a whole book about.

As the sister of a child with Down syndrome, Ethan and I have had our fair share of tough moments. Many of these tough moments have been in public, perhaps during one of his temper tantrums or sensory overloads. I’ve seen the staring and the pointing from onlookers, and I’ve definitely heard the concerned murmurs from the crowd.

I’ve even heard “it” –– the one phrase I loath and despise more than any other.

I’ve been called ”a saint”.

I’ve heard “you’re a saint” while helping him during a temper tantrum at the zoo. I’ve heard “you’re a saint” while helping him get off the play gym at the park when he was too scared to go down the slide. But am I really being “a saint”?

Right away, I can tell you that I am absolutely not. I am aware of my own humility enough to guarantee you that I am not even an above average human being. 

So why do I seem so special to those onlookers and passersby? Do they believe I’m “a saint” for showing another person compassion and kindness? Do they think I’m “a saint” for being patient and supportive of a child?

Or am I “a saint” to them because they don’t believe they could do the same? Maybe they don’t believe they could ever act as normal as I do around someone they believe to be “not-normal”? 

Well, that’s the kicker isn’t it, because Ethan is a completely normal, average boy. When I interact with my brother, I am just a normal person treating another normal person how a normal person should be treated. I treat him with the same basic respect that all other human beings deserve. 

If you believe I am “a saint” for giving him that respect, doesn’t that mean that you’re…just a bad person? 

Maybe you don’t like people with disabilities, or maybe you don’t like people in general. But I can gaurentee if you believe I’m “a saint”, either your standards for how society treats people with disabilities are extremely low, or your standards for how YOU treat people are at absolute rock bottom.

I’m not “a saint”. You just might be a bad person.  

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