By Guest Blogger Brian McMahon, a Philanthropic Liaison and Business Development Consultant for We Are Lions
In the special needs community, we are often faced with disheartening statistics. A couple examples being the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January 2015 report that just 17.3 percent of individuals with disabilities were employed or the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ survey showing 45 percent of parents reported their children with learning disabilities were bullied in the past year. The list gets grimmer the deeper we dig. One thing is clear, there is an unfortunate lack of opportunities and understanding for people with disabilities in modern society.
However, I’m not here to discuss statistics. The beautiful people (not numbers) that make up this community deserve much more than that. What I am here to discuss is how silence is the root cause of many of these problems—and a new conversation that is capable of ending it.
The disability community is silenced on a variety of levels. Some, not only in the literal sense because they may not communicate the way someone without a disability would, but also in the way that they are marginalized by society. People with developmental disabilities are often so detached from mainstream society that those with no exposure to the community are unaware of how creative, and even relatable, these individuals are. It is stigma and indifference caused by this silence that leads so many individuals with disabilities to unemployment. We also see silence for mental illness; people afraid to speak out, to ask for help and sadly, the consequences can be very morbid.