I was chatting with my Gran the other day about a book that we’d both loved and I mentioned, as part of a discussion, that I believed one of the characters thought that their husband was bipolar or had a mental illness. My Mum said to me later that it wasn’t right to bring that up, because my Gran is apparently bipolar. Now, I knew that she was taking medication for a mental illness and I’d helped her with depression in the past, but I think it would have been useful to have been aware before now. Not that labels help, but my Gran had been given this label and living with it. I once lent her my high school biology textbook, because it’s amazing the things that I take for granted that I’ve been taught, so what might she have been thinking about being called bipolar? My Dad asked why shouldn’t we talk about it and that’s my stance. I think things need to be talked about and aired. Disabilities, be they mental, physical, or otherwise, don’t need to be hushed up. The more open we are, the more we all learn, the better.
So, if anyone would like to talk to me or ask me questions about disabilities: my Gran is bipolar, my sister has Downs Syndrome, I have spent a lot of time with kids and young adults with disabilities, I’ve had a friend with cerebral palsy, a cousin in a wheelchair, and I’ve spent time with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Personally I just wear glasses and learnt sign language; I’m mostly an outsider and regardless everybody’s experiences are subjective anyway. However, if you want to chat, about your experiences or living with people with disabilities, here’s a chance :)
And this is me, so I’m going to throw some recs at you as well *grins* and feel free to throw recs back:
As It Is Written by hoosierbitch (Avengers, Gen, PG13, 3924 words, triggers/warnings: negativity about learning disabilities, verbal abuse) and Things Ain’t So Lonely Anymore by arsenicjade (Avengers, Gen, R, violence and torture) set in the same ‘verse tackle Clint having dyslexia.
One hears clearly with the heart by katheirif_fic (Avengers, Clint/Coulson, Teen and Up, 2380 words) features Clint dealing with becoming deaf after a mission.
If It Ain’t Broke by whisp (Avengers, Gen, no rating but I’d say PG13) features the fact of Clint being deaf being revealed to the team. The summary is Clint blames this solely on R&D. You think they’d remember to make his hearing aids freaking waterproof. Idiots..
Five Times Synaesthesia Was a Problem For Tony Stark by Sonora (Avengers, eventual Bruce/Tony, Teen and Up, 7008 words, triggers/warnings: misunderstandings and miscommunication, verbal abuse) is not a perfect fic, but highlights how miscommunication and misunderstanding can be damaging and the struggles of being different, as well as that being different doesn’t mean being stupid.
Under The Ivy by coffeejunkii (Harry Potter, Harry/Draco, PG13, one-shot) remains one of my favourite stories featuring disability. After the war Harry suffers from aphasia and Draco is physically disabled. It’s beautifully written and illustrates how people don’t have to be fixed, just understood. Quote: Until now, Harry thought that if he only tried harder and worked more on his speech, people would eventually understand him, but now it occurs to him that maybe those around him need to learn how to listen differently.
How The Leopard Changed Her Spots by Minisinoo (also as an ebook here) (X Men, Scott/Jean, T, 38,000 words) was a series written for a powerswap challenge and as such is AU. This Scott Summers has Cypher’s powers of being able to understand and translate any form of communication, but as Scott originally had brain damage that didn’t allow him control of his beams, this Scott also has a disability. He’s deaf. He also has a job, a complicated love life, and, well, you’ll see. He’s still Scott Summers. And since this is Minisinoo, it’s well researched and deals wonderfully with living life without hearing.
Minisinoo also wrote Finding Himself (Harry Potter, Cedric/Hermione, M, 352,724 words) and its sequel Dulce Et Decorum Est (Harry Potter, Cedric/Hermione, M, 138,512 words), AU in that instead of dying Cedric is struck by a curse that renders him physically disabled – he’s on crutches, uses a wheelchair, is in pain, and it’s degenerative. He’s also a teenage boy with a life to be living and there’s a war on.
Too Much To Hold by Sparkle_Free (Sherlock BBC, Sherlock/John, Teen and Up, 60,142) has the summary John becomes guardian of an old friend’s autistic son, and learns something about Sherlock’s diagnosis along the way. There are a number of fics in the Sherlock fandom dealing with Sherlock having a mental disability, often Autism or Asperger Syndrome, but I think that this is one of the best.
I had some X Men recs of Scott dealing with blindness and some links to rec lists, but they seem to have gone walk about, apologies :S
In published works, Deenie by Judy Blume is a classic YA novel. The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan is an adult novel written from a child’s viewpoint dealing with mental illness. Grace Williams Says It Loud by Emma Henderson is a story written from the viewpoint of a girl whose disability was exacerbated by polio when she was six about her life in care from age eleven, all the complexities, and handles wonderfully the fact that Grace’s story is a life and not a case. Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho is quiet, powerful, and uplifting. A shout out for The Shipping News in which a love interest has a son with Downs Syndrome. And I’ll direct you to Great Characters With Disabilities in YA and MG by Sarah Heacox.
On the film and tv front: Inside I'm Dancing and Snow Cake are two wonderful films. There's Daredevil, which has it's problems, but points for a blind superhero, the X Men have Charles Xavier in a wheelchair, and we musn't forget The Bone Collector. My sister loves Glee and I give them points for hiring an actress with Downs Syndrome, but I haven't watched much of it myself and hear it has faults. Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye is somewhat corny, but based on the experiences of a deaf woman who worked for the FBI and the main character is played by a deaf actress.