Disability Related Microaggressions

Contents

  1. What are Disability Related Microaggressions?
  2. What do Disability Related Microaggressions look like?
  3. How to recognise Disability Related Microaggressions
  4. Disability Micro Affirmative Behaviours

1. What are Disability Related Microaggressions?

Disability related microaggressions are a form of discrimination and ableism.

To get a better understanding of disability related microaggression it is important to understand ableism...

What is ableism?

Ableism is discrimination and social prejudice against people who have disabilities or who are perceived to have disabilities. It can take the form of ideas and assumptions, stereotypes, attitudes and practices, physical barriers in the environment or larger scale oppression. 

Ableism is often unintentional, and most people are completely unaware of the impact of their words or actions.

Ableism devalues and limits the potential of people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities.

Examples of ableism

Belittling the need for:

  • Mobility devices
  • Accessible parking
  • Assistive technology or interpreters
  • The need to take medication
  • Doctor’s appointments

Or any other considerations that people without disabilities typically don’t need to think about, but people with disabilities do.

Knowing someone with a disability or living with a disability yourself does not make you immune to ableism.

2. What do Disability related Microaggressions look like?

In addition to the behaviour highlighted above, Disability related micro-aggressive behaviours can be verbal, non-verbal or environmental.

RPS-Microagressions-Quotes


3. How to recognise Disability related Microaggressions

We've collected some examples of verbal Disability related Microaggressions, with an explanation of why these comments or questions can be offensive, insulting or insensitive

Asking someone who is neurodivergent to Example of a microaggression: Asking “Why don't you understand? it's easy! Example of a microaggression: Saying “I'm so OCD about my desk Example of a microaggression: Saying “They're definitely on the spectrum Example of a microaggression: Saying Example of a microaggression: Asking Example of a microaggression: Asking Example of a microaggression: Saying “OH, wow, you’re such an inspiration, look what you’ve achieved” or “You’re so resilient, despite your disability you’ve achieved something!” - patronising and condescending, assumes a person is no normal and was not considered competent enough to overcome hardships. Example of a microaggression: Asking “Oh, you can do that, too?” - assuming someones capabilities due to their disability. Such as assuming someone with a physical disability also has a learning disability. Example of a microaggression: Saying “I don’t know how you do it” or “I could never deal with that” or “I would hate to be you” - assumes someone is ‘suffering’ with their disability Example of a microaggression: Saying “Oh you look so normal” or “You don’t look disabled!” - should someone with a disability look unwell? You do not decide what counts as a disability. Example of a microaggression: Asking how do you cope? Life must be difficult for you” - makes assumptions about individuals health and wellbeing Example of a microaggression: Asking “Shall I help you with that? Here let me do it for you” - assumes helplessness or incompetence, as well as impatience at a slower pace. Applies to both physical disabilities and neurodivergence. Example of a microaggression: Saying “Oh she’s off again. Probably because of her condition - you know what she’s like” - minimises someone’s disability. Example of a microaggression: Saying “Oh you have Aspergers syndrome - so you don’t have a real disability!” - minimises an individuals’ disability and experiences. Example of a microaggression: Asking “Can you check prescriptions accurately when you’re dyslexic?” - assuming people with a learning difference are incompetent. Example of a microaggression: Asking “Are you drunk again?” - assumes about someone’s behaviour; however, unsteadiness can cause staggering gait. Example of a microaggression: Asking “Oh, sorry am I boring you?” - some medications can cause yawning. As pharmacists, we should recognise drug side effects and behaviours. Example of a microaggression: Saying “She’s really stand-offish” - assumes someone is deliberately ignoring you. However, Neurodivergence takes many forms and face-blindness makes social recognition more difficult. Example of a microaggression: Saying “They’re so rude” - introversion or characteristics of introversion are not uncommon in neurodivergent people. Example of a microaggression: Speaking negatively about disabled people in front of someone with a disability and then saying “Oh I didn’t mean you” Example of a microaggression: Asking “Have  you tried this remedy or medication exercise - it worked fro a friend family Example of a microaggression: Asking Example of a microaggression: Asking “But you can walk - why do need a wheelchair? assuming someone is being lazy or using it as an excuse to help mobility if they're able walk Example of a microaggression: Saying “They're different

4. Disability Micro Affirmative Behaviours

You have a duty to ensure that you’re not acting in a discriminatory manner, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Take positive micro-affirmative actions to be disability inclusive and prevent microaggressions. Encourage an inclusive culture which is understanding and open to education. Provide support and comfort for individuals and create new positive behaviours.

Everyday micro-affirmations

  • Be considerate of how information is processed and received by a neurodivergent person and adapt appropriately
  • Be more considerate in the language you use to describe disabilities. Use terminology such as “Neurodiverse” or “Neurodivergence”, and “learning differences” rather than “learning disabilities”
  • When considering an adjustment for an individual, ask could this adjustment be applied to all or benefit the whole room? For example, if someone needs arms on their chairs could all the chairs have arms?
  • Be mindful of how neurodivergent individuals or someone with learning differences respond to or understand the world; adapt your behaviours accordingly
  • Have a greater empathy for someone with a learning difference or neurodivergence, and how they undertake tasks
  • Have a better understanding about stressors for neurodivergent staff. For example, last minute ward rota changes can disrupt coping mechanisms and place individuals under unnecessary pressure
  • Be considerate of how information is processed and received by someone who is neurodivergent; adapt appropriately
  • Consider accessibility or adjustments for staff members across all abilities when considering workflow changes.

Download our posters

In addition to the behaviour highlighted above, Disability related micro-aggressive behaviours can be verbal, non-verbal or environmental.

Download our posters below, on recognising Disability related Microaggressions, and examples of Disability related Microaggressions.

A thumbnail of the RPS A3-sized Disability-Related Microaggressions poster A thumbnail of the A3-sized RPS