Letter to the Editor: What are YOU staring at?


People with disabilities are everywhere. So why do you have to stare at them? I have been dealing with an “invisible” disability nearly all my life. I can usually walk into a grocery store or go to the mall to buy a new pair of jeans without being treated differently from those around me.

However, I started this semester with what you could call a “visible disability.” I have a feeding tube.

I have had some horrible experiences because of it.

I have had people stare to the point that I stand there waiting for them to walk into a wall. They look at me as though I am going to give them some sort of disease.

I have had people come up to me and ask me what it is. For some reason my answer is never enough. The questions keep coming. Why do you have it? Are you going to die? How long do you have to have it? You name it, I have been asked it. I even had a “medical student” come up to me and ask if I could hear! Why would I be deaf just because I have a feeding tube?

At the beginning of the semester, I went home every night feeling sorry for myself and feeling great anger toward those who offended me.

However, I soon realized I had been given a gift. I now have an idea of what it is like to be visibly disabled.

Your ignorance has enhanced my tolerance and compassion for those who have to live like this the rest of their lives.

I thankfully get to have my tube removed in a month or two. I will no longer have to deal with your

ignorance. I take that back. I will be on a constant look out for those who do have to deal with you and I

will be there by their side in case someone like you decides the disabled should be treated differently.

I am writing in hopes some of you will wake up and see what you are doing to those around you. Take a look at yourself. You could be in an accident in 10 minutes and be wheelchair-bound the rest of your life. How would you like to be treated?

Andrea Olson

Junior, Psychology