Let me give you some helpful advice:
Don't spit into the wind.
Don't pick your teeth with a claw hammer.
And don't underestimate Ben D. Anderson.
Ben Anderson was raised in Kenmare, North Dakota at a time when the word "cripple" was still applied to people. When it came time to measure his IQ, his cerebral palsy made it tough for him to fit the proper peg in the appropriate hole. He scored a 63, and ever since he's been a smart man trapped in the body of a label. But to Ben, a label is just another challenge.
When Ben was just 3-years-old, his Grandfather offered him the reward of a pedal toy John Deere tractor if he could learn to walk. Ben hit the ground running.
People who consider themselves "normal" seem to have abnormal difficulty when it comes to their disabled neighbors. Engage Ben in a conversation, and it can be tricky to decipher all the words. Cerebral palsy can do that to your motor functions.
Thing is, Ben's brain isn't slow. And –- like me and you –- he's a feeling, caring, capable human being who has something to offer the discussion.
He'll surprise you by telling you that one must "own" his or her disability. He'll explain why it's time to ban words like "moron" or "retard" from our cultural vocabularies, just like we laid the words "cripple" and "handicapped" to rest.
He'll quote from his book, and show off his college degree, and his many awards for motivational speaking. So much for labels.
Ben will be the first to tell you that as a society we've come a long way in valuing all people, no matter their diagnosed skill set. But don't take my word for it. Ben says it so much better.
Ben D. Anderson, In Person. Only on WQOW News 18. Always more than you expect.
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