Editor's Note: Why We Removed a Story

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On Sunday morning, The Mighty published a story from one of our contributors entitled “Introducing: Meltdown Bingo,” which made light of the meltdowns many autistic people experience on a daily basis. It was written by a mother on the spectrum about her child on the spectrum. She shared a part of her private life with the online world and meant no harm. The post has since been removed. That’s something we don’t do often. I want to explain this decision. 

Basically, we messed up and hurt the exact community we aim to serve.

Our goal on The Mighty is to give people a platform to share their stories. It’s a simple objective that’s proven challenging for everyone on our staff because we host thousands of perspectives and opinions, from both disabled and able-bodied writers. We don’t expect everyone to agree on every post. In fact, we like when our contributors’ stories start important, respectful conversations. What we don’t want is to cause harm. Here is where I missed the mark when deciding to publish this submission.

That’s on me. I personally apologize to anyone we hurt with this post. It was not our intention, but we need to take responsibility for our actions. Our community called us on this post almost immediately. Thank you. 

This isn’t the first time The Mighty has been rightfully accused of ableism.

And to deny that we’ve been ableist would be, well, ableist. 

I’m able-bodied. I’ve grown up in a world designed for able-bodied and “typical” people. In my journalism training, I was taught not to write words like “disabled” or “autistic.” It wasn’t until I edited a post from a potential contributor named Tonia (you can read her blog here) that I realized how truly ableist my thinking was. Tonia respectfully called me out for changing “disabled” to “person with disabilities” in her submission, therefore telling her how to identify herself. That’s not our job as editors; our job is to help you tell your stories. Because Tonia spoke out, The Mighty made a positive shift. I don’t think I ever thanked her for that virtual (and necessary) slap in the face.

After we ran “Meltdown Bingo,” another Mighty contributor asked me this: Who is this helping?

When I realized I couldn’t answer her properly, we made the call to remove the post. While there’s room to find humor when facing challenges, when the attempt at humor ends up not being funny, we cross into offensive territory. That’s hurtful. That doesn’t help anyone. That’s not our purpose. We missed the mark. We’ve run posts in the past that people did not agree with, but in this case, I felt we actually caused harm. This is why the post came down.

What we are thankful for is a community that lets us know when we don’t get it right. When a small team of people are editing submissions from thousands of writers, all with different perspectives and opinions, we rely on you to tell us when we’ve done wrong.

If you don’t see your voice represented on The Mighty, send us a post. Tell us when we’ve generalized your experiences. Give us and others a new point of view to learn from. Share your story. 

We have a growing platform, one I’m proud of. I’m asking you all to use us.

In an attempt to get better, I’d like to ask you three questions that will help our team. If you have the time, please send me your thoughts at [email protected] Don’t hesitate to ask me questions, too. Here’s what we want to know:

What improvements do you want to see made on The Mighty?

Which websites and writers are covering this space the right way?

What are we doing right? If we know this, we can do more of it.

Please know this: We’re listening, we’re going to learn from our mistakes, and we want more than ever to get this right.

Update: If you’re interested in having a conversation with us, head here.

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Dove Recalls Holiday Chocolate Because of Unlisted Allergens

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On Friday, Mars Chocolate North America issued a voluntary recall of Dove’s seasonal “Chocolate Assortment Snowflakes” candies after a customer found a piece of a Snickers in one of the assortment bags.

The recall affects an estimated 6,700 cases of the product. The 24 oz. bags were sold in Walmarts in 35 states in the U.S. between Sept. 19 and Dec. 1, according to ABC.

“People who have allergies to peanuts, wheat and/or eggs have the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products,” the company said in a statement. “We are fully cooperating with the FDA on this matter. Food safety and product quality are of paramount importance to Mars, and we are committed to the highest standards for all of our products.”

According to ABC, no injuries or reactions have been reported at this time.

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Hotel to Open First Program of Its Kind in the U.S. for People With Disabilities

Make a plan to stay at this soon-to-be open hotel.

The Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center in Muncie, Indiana, will open with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 22. The hotel, developed by The Arc of Indiana, will provide essential job training for people with disabilities. Its program is the first of its kind in the U.S., according to a press release from the organization.

Members of the Erskine Green Training Institute, which provides vocational training for those in the hospitality, food service and health care industries, will be housed at the hotel. After going through the training program, participants will take on internships at the Courtyard, the Thr3e Wise Men restaurant at the hotel, and the nearby IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.

At least 20 percent of the hotel’s 129-person staff will be people with developmental and other types of disabilities, Sally Morris, Assistant Director of Advancement with The Arc of Indiana, told Disability Scoop.

hotel at night
Image courtesy of Arc Innovations

“With the opening… we start a new chapter – one we believe will significantly change employment opportunities and postsecondary education options for people with disabilities,” Kim Dodson, executive director of The Arc of Indiana and Arc Innovations, said in the press release. “This project is only possible because so many people have come together to achieve this dream. We are making history that will forever change the lives of people with disabilities.”

People with disabilities are already employed in all areas of the operation including at the front desk, in housekeeping and at the on-site bistro and restaurant, Morris told Disability Scoop. “As others look at this model, and word spreads about the quality of the workers at the hotel, as well as the individuals who leave the institute and gain employment in their hometowns, we believe other businesses and industries will realize the value added of hiring people with disabilities,” Morris added.

The first class of trainees is set to begin Jan. 11.

Earlier this year The Mighty reported on Albergo Etico, or “Hotel Ethics” in Asti, Italy, which is staffed by people with disabilities. The staff at Albergo Etico follow a similar approach to the Courtyard hotel with a career training course, so clearly this strategy is working all over the globe.

For more information, visit The Arc of Indiana on Facebook and its website.

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I Shouldn’t Have to Work on Christmas Just Because I Don’t Have Kids

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A co-worker went on a rant on Facebook, complaining that she has to work on Christmas despite being with her company for 15 years. This led into a rant that basically translated to, “If you don’t have kids, you should work on Christmas for those who have them.”

Well, that just stabbed me in the remaining ovary.

Since when did we, the childless by circumstance or choice, become second class to those who have the opportunity to get pregnant and have children? More importantly, how did Christmas become a special holiday only those with kids of their own can celebrate?

Two summers ago was a scary time for me. One minute I was up at 3 a.m. in extreme pain; the next, I found myself on an operating table in preparation for emergency surgery to have a grapefruit-sized tumor and half my baby-making bits removed, making it difficult and almost fatal for me to have kids. My goals to get married and have that “soccer mom” life turned into bigger goals: moving up in the company I work for, making new friends and enjoying life the best way I can.

But even that comes at a cost, since working on a holiday at the world’s largest theme park has its not-so-magical quirks. But I have to take it with a smile and work the best I can while thousands of miles away from the ones I love.

But to create a war on Christmas based on whether or not my lady bits can make babies is an all-time low.

Be mindful of those who view family differently. Just because I haven’t had a kid doesn’t mean Christmas shouldn’t be a holiday I can celebrate. Christmas is a time of year for all to enjoy, babies or no babies.

I have a family in the form of my friends from the comic convention circuits. I have family I call my co-workers, who, like that person complaining, have to work that day, too. I may not have a conventional family down here while my real one is on the other side of the country, but I have a right to enjoy the love and magic of the season like everyone else.

To those who only think about themselves, I urge you to take a look on the other side of that picket fence and minivan and reach out to everyone with an open mind.

Merry Christmas to all, no matter what your baby-making skills are.

Author’s note:

The Mighty published this piece recently under a straightforward title, which led to some questions and comments. I am low on seniority, yes. I know I must work holidays; after all, I signed up to work here. The funny thing about this company is that no matter if you’ve spent one year or 40 here, there’s a good chance you’ll be working the holiday, given the nature of the business. I don’t believe anyone is entitled to anything, but everyone has a right to celebrate Christmas. I know I’ll be making the most of it with just a few close friends over the course of a few days. It was my co-worker’s words specifically I took as a personal attack on those without children, which is why I wrote this story. It is less about working on the holiday for me.

Whether you are with or without family, working long hours or have the day off, I wish you the best this holiday season.

Follow this journey on Legally Blind Bagged.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness during the holiday season, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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14 Perfectly Imperfect Holiday Photos From Our Mighty Community

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The holidays are just around the corner, and whether your kids are sitting in Santa’s lap or you’re attending a party, odds are plenty of pictures will be snapped over next few weeks.

Many of our readers have told us how difficult it is to get that “perfect” or “classic” holiday photo of their special needs family. But aren’t the kind of imperfect ones really the best? We think so. From priceless faces to creative setups to unconventional backgrounds, here are some of the holiday snapshots our Mighty readers shared with us:

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“In our autism home we like to keep a sense of humor in our Christmas cards. And seriously his facial expression in this picture (by accident and luck of course) couldn’t have been more perfect.” — Brittany Van Arman-Miller

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via Jennifer Steele

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via Allyssa Rose

4.

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“My son has had a hard time sitting still for photos, so a family friend staged this Christmas photo a few years ago so my son could still move around. This ended up being my favorite Christmas picture that my family has ever had!” — Marybeth Mitcham

5.

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“Usually we get a semi blurry picture of one of the kids standing by the tree while Santa hovers as close as he dares to get in the background while the other kiddo is hiding behind my husband or I crying. This time they were excited to get their picture taken and the only tears were my happy ones. My son still isn’t about to sit on someone’s lap but hey next to is just as good.” — Mika Clardy

6.

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via Dan Bethke

7.

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via Erin Nichole

8.

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via Nikki Pizza

9.

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“This was on our Christmas card along with a separate shot of each of our boys. After a year filled with diagnosis after diagnosis, it is the only picture that all four of us are in, the entire year. And I love it.” —Mommy’s Marble Madness

10.

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via Penny Tait

11.

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“We have participated in the Caring Santa at our local mall for 2 years now. Our Santa realized last year that my son would not tolerate sitting in his lap, or even in the chair next to him. So he improvised. He asked my son to play cars with him! They played and we were able to get a picture that i feel is totally Ian! We were never rushed and the staff were wonderfully understanding and helpful. This year our Santa was back and remembered Ian. He immediately asked Ian to play cars and trains. He sat down on the floor, on my sons level and played patiently with him. It made my heart happy…” –Jamie Heustess

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via Lyndse Marie Ballew

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“They didn’t want to leave their little brother out that had passed away in October 2014.” — Lisa Blackstone

14.

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via Julie B.

Do you have a perfectly imperfect holiday photo you’d like to share with us? Send it to us at [email protected] and we may feature it in an upcoming post on The Mighty.

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Mom Who Lost Son Days Before Christmas Wants Other Parents to Do This

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Arlene Clark lost her son Jack exactly three years ago this week, just six days before his birthday, which fell on Christmas day. Jack passed away from sudden complications from an adenovirus, which attacked his heart and caused severe brain damage.

A year after losing her son, Clark, from Renfrew, Scotland, started the organization Brightest Star, which offers support to other grieving families. On her charity’s Facebook page, Clark shared an emotional message on the third anniversary of her son’s passing. In it, she made one request of parents whose children are still alive:

In the midst of the Christmas rush, the busy shops, the festive nights out, take some time to make small but special memories with your children, watch a Xmas movie together, play a game, make cards or read a Xmas book…

Don’t forget to take some pictures of the memories along the way. I didn’t know that true value of a photograph until they were all I had left of my son.

This time 3 years ago, my life was like many of yours. I was a mum to a handsome 5 year old little boy who was excited…

Posted by Brightest Star on Monday, December 14, 2015

 

Read Clark’s full post below:

This time 3 years ago, my life was like many of yours. I was a mum to a handsome 5 year old little boy who was excited for Xmas. I was doing all the things that you will be doing with your children just now, decorating the house, writing letters to Santa, visiting Santa, watching xmas movies, xmas shopping, planning xmas day and trying to do everything to give my son the best Christmas. Little did I know that my life was about to change forever, my son was never going to see that Christmas or any Christmas after that. I would never see him run down the stairs desperate to see if Santa had been, I would never get to see him open his presents, play with his toys and do all the Christmas things that most families do.

Nobody knows what tomorrow might bring and sadly tomorrow is never guaranteed for any of us. I like everyone else could easily get caught up in the Christmas stress, worrying about money, worrying about presents, stressing out in the shops, rushing here, there and everywhere, and worrying about pleasing everyone else. Was it really a big deal that I wouldn’t what I needed from the shops? Was it really a bug deal that the shops were busy and I had to wait in cues? Was it really a big deal that I couldn’t get a parking space? Or that I didn’t send Xmas cards? Or that I didn’t know what to get people? Or that I couldn’t get to see everyone on Xmas Day? Or that people didn’t agree with my decisions?

With hindsight, none of the Christmas stress was really worth it. All that was important was the time that I spent with Jack and the memories that we made together along the way. I am so thankful for all the things that I got to do with Jack on the lead up to that Xmas as I know so many people never get the chance to experience the gift of being a parent. Christmas really is about the kids and the memories that you make with them, not the money that you spend on them.

In the midst of the Christmas rush, the busy shops, the festive nights out, take some time to make small but special memories with your children, watch a Xmas movie together, play a game, make cards or read a Xmas book. One of the things that Jack loved to do that last Xmas was have me sing the 12 days of Christmas book to him in funny voices. During his last phone call to me, he said “mum we sang that song in school today” when I asked what song, he replied with “the one you sing in the funny voice, 5 golden rings”. It was something small but now it’s a special memory.

Don’t forget to take some pictures of the memories along the way. I didn’t know that true value of a photograph until they were all I had left of my son.

Arlene, Jack’s Mummy xx

In another post on her charity’s Facebook page, Clark added that she hopes her story will encourage other parents to not only spend more quality time with their kids, but that they will also pay attention to warning signs when it comes to illness.  “I still can’t believe that my son died of an everyday cold and flu virus,” she added. “I want to raise as much awareness of possible of the fact that a virus can, at times, be deadly.”

For more information, visit Brightest Star’s Facebook page and website.

h/t Daily Mail

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