The Problem With Those Viral 'Good Deed' Disability Stories

Every day it seems like I see a deluge of “newsworthy” stories about a typical person and the amazing “good deed” the person has performed for a child (or sometimes adult) with a disability. These astounding efforts are usually simple:

Popular Teen Takes Girl With Down Syndrome to Prom

Coffee Shop Makes Boy With Autism  His Favorite Off-the-Menu Drink

Child Invites Classmate With Wheelchair to Birthday Party

You get the idea, right? While yes, these stories are positive and sweet, how are they news? When did just being a human being become so astonishing? The girl with Down Syndrome is a person — she wants to celebrate at her prom. If the coffee shop made the “special” drink for the boy with autism, the coffee shop already had the ingredients. So isn’t that simply providing for a paying customer? And what is the big deal about inviting a person with a wheelchair to a party?

People with disabilities are people first. People with disabilities are human. Treating people with disabilities like everyone else is called being treated humanely. I am not saying don’t celebrate the good… I am simply asking you to see the person first.

When people or places go above and beyond to make sure inclusivity and justice exist, that is newsworthy. For instance, after I requested it, our local movie theater worked together with me to institute monthly Sensory Movies that are very accommodating for children with autism and sensory issues. Our local city Recreation Department goes above and beyond to create programs for disabilities.

Again, I am not saying not to celebrate the good… I am simply asking you to realize that by putting these stories on such a pedestal, it makes it easy to only see the disability, rather than celebrate the person with the disability. Being nice isn’t — or shouldn’t be — news.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo by RawPixel.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Disability

The Invisible Dance of Chronic Fatigue and Cerebral Palsy

Growing up with spastic cerebral palsy, I was unaware that I used more energy than others to do the simplest tasks. I didn’t know any different. To me, it was perfectly normal. As with any child, I had an abundance of energy, and I took all of the challenges cerebral palsy brings, head on, and I [...]

3 Things I Can Do to Help My Sister Who Has Kids With Disabilities

My sister is raising two sons with disabilities. We don’t often get the time to hang out with one another without a list of things to do and places to go. We live hundreds of miles from one another. So our time together is precious. She recently came to visit without her children. She needed a break. [...]

5 Ways to Work Towards an Inclusive Education System for All

The needed supports for students are often too briefly discussed between teachers, testing bodies and students and their parents. There needs to be a more thorough and systematic way of approaching a student with a disability, along with their parent/guardian when negotiating what the student needs in order to succeed in their studies. 1. The teacher or [...]
A mother wearing a blue dress holding her baby daughter who wears a pink sweater and teal dress.

To the Mom With a Child Who Uses a Wheelchair, I Apologize

To the mom pushing her daughter in a wheelchair, I apologize for what it has taken for me to see you. I apologize for the times I looked away from you, for the times I had pity on you, for the times I saw your daughter as “less” because of her differences, for the times [...]