This week there was not a new episode of Speechless. However, they did show a rerun of Episode 6 called D-A-T-E-DATE? The challenges of dating as an individual with a disability was featured. However, I think the challenge that stood out the most in this this episode of Speechless was the stress of the family and how they cope, whether it be healthy or unhealthy.
First I want to talk about dating as a disabled adult. Dating is a challenge for many people, but in the society we live in, where physical appearance is held in high regard, for disabled individuals it is even harder. My experience is very similar to JJ’s on Speechless, women see me as a friend or as he stated, as a “teddy bear”. This challenge was also addressed in a very humorous light in Zach Anner’s book, If At Birth You Don’t Succeed.” Zach Anner did not have a girlfriend until he was 30. There is no shortage of women who will insincerely flirt with me, sit on my lap and joke about being my girlfriend, but there is definitely a shortage of the sincere women who truly are interested in getting to know me beyond friendship and beyond my wheelchair. Rarely do I ever “blame” my disability for the shortcomings in my life, I have to say that if I was not disabled I would have a very different love life. I am a kind, intelligent, and humorous kind of guy. Some may say I am handsome and a real catch. I think my wheelchair does prevent women from seeing those characteristics. Disabilities of my nature can also be isolating. My schedule is dictated by my caregiving schedule and I don’t drive. Going on a date with a caregiver can be a bit awkward to say the least! So I can definitely empathize with JJ from Speechless. Of course, there are things I can do to overcome some of these challenges. I am quite shy and a bit of a homebody. So there are things I personally need to work on to improve this area of my life.
By Terri Couwenhoven
I think the majority of this episode of Speechless highlighted the stresses of the family. Dylan, who is usually the upbeat “easy” kid, had a meltdown, actually several meltdowns. It was clear that stress was getting to her. In one scene she told her dad she was tired of the way people treated her family. Her dad showed her his way of dealing with stress at the airport where he was employed. They laid on the ground and as the airplanes flew over, they screamed bloody murder as the engine drowned out the noise. In this episode of Speechless, Maya had a different way of dealing with her stress. Once a month she meets with a group of special need’s moms come over for “support”. By support, I mean lots of sangria! This may not be the healthiest way to deal with stress, and I certainly don’t recommend becoming a drunk, but sometimes letting loose can be a great stress reliever.
Video games is my stress reliever!