• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal


Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.

How to Help Someone With a Disability: Listen to Them

I’m 39. I have lived most of my life with a disability.

I’m not sure when it truly started — probably early childhood, but it got severe when I started high school. I began having migraines every day, and the root cause of my migraines was a mental health issue.

One of the hardest parts of having a disability is dealing with other people. There’s the actual problem itself — that I can’t do certain things and my head hurts all the time — and then there’s the extra problem of other people having no idea how to deal with a person with a disability.

Some people take sympathy to an extreme. They act as if I am breakable and ask if everything is OK, even when I assure them that entire categories of things are always OK for me. I’ll tell them that natural light is always fine for me, and they’ll keep asking if the light from the window is giving me a headache.

When I explained my needs to one person, she began “awww”ing like she was talking to a baby, or a dying person, or a dog. Or maybe a dying baby dog. I’m still an adult, and I’m not stupid. I’m just disabled.

Some people think that I have a disability in order to inconvenience them. And, yeah, it’s inconvenient. Trust me, it’s a lot worse for me than it is for you, and I hate inconveniencing others. I hate asking for special accommodations, even the ones people with disabilities are entitled to by law.

A few even asked me, “If you could get better, would you want to?” Uhh, let me think. No, I enjoy my head hurting every day.

Some people deal with the problem by pretending it does not exist. Or they want to explain to me why it’s not good that I have the problems I have, as if I’m not aware. Some people think it’s my fault. Some suggest I go to the doctor (as if I haven’t) or try simple cures that don’t work (like Advil).

For the record, I’m well aware that my disability is inconvenient and it limits my life.

I am doing my best. I have a lot of experience living with this problem, and loads of detailed knowledge about what caused it, how it affects me, and how to handle it. The best way to deal with it is by asking me and listening to me and working with me to find mutually acceptable solutions.

I’m already doing everything that can be done to get better. I don’t need suggestions for other cures. I’ve probably already tried them. And it’s not helpful to tell me my mental health problems are irrational.  If it were rational, it wouldn’t be called mental illness.

My mental health problems are very sensitive to my trust, communication, and relationships with other people. If someone isn’t listening to me, or if I feel I can’t trust them, my behavior gets weirder and worse. Then it becomes a bad feedback loop in which they are reacting to me, and I am reacting to them. If you’re worried about my symptoms affecting you, remember that you can also affect them.

If you know someone with a disability, the best thing you can do is listen to them. Let them tell you about their strengths, and weaknesses, and needs. Be present. Empathize. Don’t scold them for their problems or try to explain why they’ll have to suck it up.

Assume they are already doing everything in their power to get better or improve their ability to function. And remember that an inability to do certain things doesn’t translate to an inability to do all things.

More articles by:
June 02, 2020
Zoltan Grossman
Deploying Federal Troops in a War at Home Would Make a Bad Situation Worse
Nicholas Buccola
Amy Cooper is Christian Cooper’s Lost, Younger Sister 
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming is Nuclear War
Patrick Cockburn
An Unavoidable Recognition of Failure: Trump’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan
John Feffer
Is It Time to Boycott the USA?
Kathy Kelly
Beating Swords to Plowshares
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Urban Riots Revisited
Sam Pizzigati
“Failed State” Status Here We Come
Ron Jacobs
In Defense of Antifa
Cesar Chelala
Bolsonaro and Trump: Separated at Birth
George Wuerthner
The BLM’s License to Destroy Sagebrush Ecosystems
Danny Antonelli
The Absurdity of Hope
Binoy Kampmark
Sinister Flatulence: Trump Versus Twitter
John Stanton
How Much Violence and Destruction is Enough for Depraved American Leaders and Their Subjects?
Richard C. Gross
The Enemy Within
Thomas Knapp
Trump’s “Free Speech:” Doctrine: Never, Ever, Ever Mention He’s a Liar
John W. Whitehead
This Is Not a Revolution. It’s a Blueprint for Locking Down the Nation
June 01, 2020
Joshua Frank
It’s a Class War Now Too
Richard D. Wolff
Why the Neoliberal Agenda is a Failure at Fighting Coronavirus
Henry Giroux
Racial Domestic Terrorism and the Legacy of State Violence
Ron Jacobs
The Second Longest War in the United States
Kanishka Chowdhury
The Return of the “Outside Agitator”
Lee Hall
“You Loot; We Shoot”
Dave Lindorff
Eruptions of Rage
Jake Johnston
An Impending Crisis: COVID-19 in Haiti, Ongoing Instability, and the Dangers of Continued U.S. Deportations
Nick Pemberton
What is Capitalism?
Linda G. Ford
“Do Not Resuscitate”: My Experience with Hospice, Inc.
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Who Are the Secret Puppet-Masters Behind Trump’s War on Iran?
Manuel García, Jr.
A Simple Model for Global Warming
Howard Lisnoff
Is the Pandemic Creating a Resurgence of Unionism? 
Frances Madeson
Federal Prisons Should Not be Death Chambers
Hayley Brown – Dean Baker
The Impact of Upward Redistribution on Social Security Solvency
Raúl Carrillo
We Need a Public Option for Banking
Kathy Kelly
Our Disaster: Why the United States Bears Responsibility for Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis
Sonali Kolhatkar
An Open Letter to Joe Biden on Race
Scott Owen
On Sheep, Shepherds, Wolves and Other Political Creatures
John Kendall Hawkins
All Night Jazz All The Time
Weekend Edition
May 29, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Tim Wise
Protest, Uprisings, and Race War
Nick Pemberton
White Supremacy is the Virus; Police are the Vector
T.J. Coles
What’s NATO Up to These Days? Provoking Russia, Draining Healthcare Budgets and Protecting Its Own from COVID
Benjamin Dangl
Bibles at the Barricades: How the Right Seized Power in Bolivia
Kevin Alexander Gray - Jeffrey St. Clair - JoAnn Wypijewski
There is No Peace: an Incitement to Justice
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Few Good Sadists
Jeff Mackler
The Plague of Racist Cop Murders: Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Joshua Frank
In Search of a Lost Socialism