When I need to stop thinking about caregiving, I sometimes turn on the television to see what can distract me for a while. I find myself reading an awful lot about coping, managing, cooking, health, benefits, news, research…so seeing pictures instead of words is a welcome change for my brain.
Flicking through the channels one evening last year, I caught an ad for a new show: Switched at Birth, which immediately caught my attention. One of the main characters was deaf! I found this exciting, as not too many shows or movies feature persons with any sort of disabilities.
When I mentioned this observation to my daughter, she informed me of another show that is popular among students in high school: The Secret Life of the American Teenager. In that show, Luke Zimmerman, who has Down’s Syndrome, plays the role of Tom Bowman.
Yet another popular show is Glee. You guessed it: Artie Abrams uses a wheelchair and cheerleader Becky has another disability! In total, 6 characters in 3 shows playing over 3 consecutive days portray persons with disabilities. What I found wonderful was that their characters all blend in with the cast and story seamlessly. I have heard no mention of impairment or inability to carry out any task. What I have seen is everyone going on about their business, normally.
Is this a reflection of how the younger generations view disabilities today? How about adults?
I hope so!
I found it especially wonderful that in the shows, these characters were seen solely as friends; as they should be! Everyone had the same issues as anyone else – falling in love, falling out of love, self-confidence, rivalries, going after your dreams, defining oneself and all of the teen angst-invincibility-sensitivity that comes with that age. I watched the shows and got into the stories without distraction of any disabilities. They were all simply people!