Why does society have such harass views when a person does fit their ideal picture of how we as a whole should look and act? Rachel Simons does the remarkable by turning her life upside down to be able to experience for a year on what her younger sister Beth life is like. Beth is a colorful independent woman who was born with an intellectual disability and spends her time riding buses every day. By taking this novel and analyzing it with concepts about the sociological views of disability gives a better understanding of how the concepts connect to real life.
Thus we will look at the parental first encounter when finding out your child is disabled to the neurodiversity depiction of being disabled and lastly how disabilities and culture coexist. The parental first encounter when finding out that your child has a disability is a tough fact to process. What makes it worse is that parents often have a negative experience with the medical staff when learning the diagnosis. It’s called professional dominance when the parents are viewed as the “cause” of the disability and are expected to obey the professional’s order without objection.
In Beth’s families’ case, they had to send Beth away to get the test done when they realized she was developing as fast as the “normal” child would. When the doctor finally got the result he went start to the point saying “We know she’s retarded, but we don’t know what caused it. I’m sorry. There is nothing left that we can do. ” (Simon p. 28) They then were told that Beth would have a limited intellectual, emotional, and physical capabilities. Which was expected to come in since they had already expected that they’re daughter had a disability.
But like most cases, doctors also tell the parents that there is a high possibility that from a current state of the child they could be bedridden for life and only be able to communicate in grunts and groans. Parental first encounters because the parents to believe that there could be possibly no hope. Though I wonder by having the doctors be so short and brutal with the parents if that makes them want to prove them wrong. Every parent goes through the stages when receiving the news. This is when the parents separate in comparison.
Beth’s dad went through all three stage yet her mother did not. The mother went through the primary stage of shock and the secondary stage but never stage three. She never re-organized her priorities when it came to Beth focusing more on her love life and not her children needs. Beth’s parents were very strong on never putting her in an institution or a group home. They wanted their kids to know that they will have to be there for Beth and support it. To never look down on her. Beth’s mom even force the school to put Beth in the educable and trainable class.
Trainable being the students that need 24/7 help who had a low IQ and the educable students with the like hood that they could learn how to read and write. Though Beth should be in the educable class I think that they deserve to be in a normal class setting. Ingratiating children with special needs into regular classrooms causes them to gain more skills, improve self-esteem, and desire to go to school (IDS p. 79-111). Which in turn would help other students have a better understand and be used to students who are disabled.
Rachel talked about how her classmates would make fun of the trainable and educable class. This could all change if they were all ingratiated together. Thus giving them the extra help in order to make it easier for them at school. However, coming from the neurodiversity perspective might have helped people like Beth’s family in having a better understanding of her. Neurodiversity is the diversity of human cognitive abilities that infinite variation in the human brains and minds. From the description of Beth would be considered neurodivergent.
This is the cognitive functioning that falls outside of the norm movement. After spending some time with her sister, Rachel, starts to what to know more about Beth’s disability and what makes her different. This causes her to see what it is really like for Beth. That the social adjustment of a person with the mild intellectual disorder often approximates that of the adolescent, although they tend to lack the normal adolescent’s imagination, inventiveness, and judgment (Simons p. 173-176).
Thus making her understand so of Beth’s traits that tend to cause her frustration. From her communication being every time she said “I don’t know” Beth truly had no idea to her self-care where she eats whatever she wants and the why she dresses. After researching Rachel gained the neurodiversity perspective fully. Where they what to change attitudes toward people who are different so that they are respected, valued, and made to feel part of the community (Robinson). Beth is always stubborn to her was but she is her true self.
Rachel learned that Beth’s difference didn’t need to be changed or made better, they needed help and accommodation. Beth lives in a society that careens between bullying her to seeing her as a perpetual child. When no one is “normal” or the “best” type of mind. Beth is different but she certainly is not defective. Nevertheless, disability and culture go hand in hand with the mindset of our society today. Culture is the way of thinking, behaving, and material objects that shape the way of life for a group of people.
Culture helps deter the values, deviance, norms, and what we consider to be normal. Right away when Rachel describes Beth’s appearance she goes against the norms of what are the social expectations. She dresses in a mixer of colors, wears flip-flops in colder weather, and no bra. But what makes it harder for people that know Beth from the buses is that she doesn’t have a job. It goes against everything and can even be seen a deviance. Though when looking at the criteria of the age group who frown upon Beth riding the bus all day and not holding a job are the older residents.
When focusing on that aspect they just view it as bad since they had grown up in a time where if someone was disabled they were hiding away and put in an institution. But if they ever took the time to get to know Beth like Rachel was during this year it makes sense that Beth didn’t have a job. In away her job was riding the learning the route and helping out the newbie drivers. The idea of norms is that it divides the population into standard and nonstandard subpopulation (Davis). Just by reading how people react to Beth you can tell that they view her as being in the nonstandard subpopulation.
Though Beth doesn’t view herself as being considered standard let alone someone with a disability. Yes, Beth is an extremely independent but people can take her version of valves to get her to respond to the social expectation. Whether it was convincing her to go to the doctor or important decision like getting her tubes tied. Though they can view the family wanting to eliminate Beth possibilities of having kids as eugenics to eliminate the defects. It made them worried that since she couldn’t properly take care of a child when she barely took care of herself.
People have different values or incompatible thresholds for intent or contrasting ideas on what it takes for people with an intellectual disability to understanding the consequences. Rachel and her family used how much she valued going on the bus every day. During this time selfdetermination movement which is the respect for individuality for disabled people was becoming very big. Rachel went to a conference on the movement and people had mixed conversations about if this way was good or even saying that we should encourage social norms still.
Disability rights advocates challenge ideologies behind the imposed identity (Longmore). Beth is a perfect example of challenging society’s ideology. As she proves people who are even close to her were wrong and keeps moving to the beat of her own drum. “Riding the Bud with My Sister” has been an eye opener on giving us a realistic depiction of what it would be like to be a person with an intellectual disability. For the parental first encounters when finding out the news of Beth’s disability, the neurodiversity of one’s mind, and how disability if perceived by culture.
If only we could change the society views on disabilities, especially since no one really does fit in what we define as normal. Ending with a quote about what it should really be like: “Maybe we are all Beth’s, boarding other people’s life journeys, or letting them hop aboard ours. For a while, we ride together. A few minutes, a few miles. Companions on the road, sharing our air and our view, our feet swaying to the same beat. Then you get off at your stop, or I get off at mine. Unless we decide to stay on longer together. ” (p. 215)