Review: “Why are you pretending to be normal?”

Like most disabled people, I acquired my impairment as an adult. It is a huge adjustment for anyone to make. In some ways it is like a bereavement – you have to grieve for your old life, for the things you can no longer do and for the dreams you can no longer achieve. Only when you have gone through the bereavement process can you even begin to start thinking about your new and different, and almost certainly unwanted lifestyle. Much of my work is around helping other people, employers especially, make life easier and more accessible for disabled people. However, attitudes towards disabled people are also influenced by disabled people’s attitudes towards themselves. The language we use. The way we see ourselves. The way we live our lives.

“Why are you pretending to be normal?”, written by Phil Friend and Dave Rees, takes a fictitious character through the journey to exploring a new life with a new impairment. The main character, Chris, talks to a range of different disabled people, learning something different from each one. Important issues such as the use of “victim” language, the social model, ways of constructing our reality, so that we don’t further disable ourselves by comparing ourselves unfavourably with what other people define as “normal”.

This short, easy-to-read book is a must for anyone newly-disabled, or anyone who lives or works with disabled people. It is a positive book, where we see that the new and different life is every bit as valuable and worthwhile as our previous life, or anyone else’s life. Different, but not necessarily worse.

I thoroughly recommend it. More here. (I’m not on commission, I’m just a fan!)

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