Wednesday, June 9, 2010


We all know They. We live by They's rules, or we fight They with the weapons we have, which are almost never as effective as the ones They carry and which They often use with such little regard for the consequences.

As I look through my blog and the comments left on it, I can see that while my daughter would appear to be the most frequent subject of my writing and of others' responses, there's also a clear antagonist.



"They said my son would never walk."

"They told us that our daughter would never be capable of writing her name or reading."

"They never allowed him to sit with the other kids because They didn't see any educational benefit to him or his classmates."

"They never expected her to live, much less thrive."

"They've denied our claim… again."

"They objected to their kids being compelled to attend classes with mine. They don't want resources being moved to special education."

"They were pointing at me and making fun of how I walk. They didn't think I noticed, but I did."


They aren't all the teachers and doctors and therapists that our kids encounter. Hopefully They don't dominate our families or our communities. Indeed, in the best of times, They are in the minority, and their voices can sometimes be drowned out by those who do get it, who do believe.

But They are always there somewhere. They tell us what our kids can't do. They attempt to predict the future, one in which disabilities call all the shots. They look at our kids and see what can't be done. They withhold their resources, and their optimism. They set expectations low, and then They work to make those expectations a reality. Our reality.

Sometimes They are right. Perhaps They are right much of the time, at least on a technical level. And They certainly are very good at documenting their opinions and actions and creating the paper trail to protect themselves. They are smart, and They are omnipresent.

But if you, gentle reader, are a doctor or a therapist, a teacher or a family member, or even just a citizen, I have but one thing to ask of you. Just this one simple request.

Don't be They. Just don't.

Robert Rummel-Hudson is the father ten-year-old Schuyler and the author of Schuyler's Monster: A Father's Journey with His Wordless Daughter (St. Martin's Press, 2008).  He is also a contributing essayist for My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities (PM Press, 2009). His work has appeared in Good Housekeeping and Wondertime.  Robert's adventures with Schuyler can also be found at his blog, Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords.



  1. As if this eloquent plea isn't enough, consider this: They don't often have a name. It's They said we couldn't, but Dr. Suchandso showed me how I could. It's They teased her on the playground, but Alice and Bob are her friends. If you need another reason not to be They, consider that They are, in the end, forgettable.

  2. My daughter has had seizures for fifteen years, and it always cracks me up when people ask, "Can't They give her anything for those?"

  3. I was going to post something profound and erudite, but I think I'd rather second what Charmingbitch said.

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