"Family Guy" is known to portray a lot of subjects in an off-color fashion, but I actually feel like they got special needs right -- this time.
Ellen S.: I have a lot of friends who love "The Family Guy." I've never gotten into it, but I watched the recent controversial episode after Bristol Palin berated it for supposedly mocking her baby brother, Trig, who has Down syndrome.
Sure, the teen girl with Down syndrome in the episode sounded like someone who has a disability. But that's reality, not ridicule. And she came off as smart and confident; she was even demanding on a date with a guy. In other words, she acted just like lots of other teen girls. And that's a great message: People with disabilities can be just like everyone else.
I know firsthand that a lot of people don't get that. Strangers tend to treat my little boy, Max, in one of two ways: Either they talk to him like he's an infant (he's seven), or they're hesitant to approach him at all. They're just not sure how to deal with a kid who's handicapped. I sometimes feel like shaking them and shouting, "HE IS STILL A LITTLE BOY! Who loves toy cars and ice cream and the sound of farts! Just like your kids!" -- something I recently wrote about here.
I'm not blaming them for their behavior. They think they have to treat people with disabilities differently because they assume that people with disabilities are very different from others. Perhaps that's how these people were raised. Perhaps they've never had a kid with special needs in their family, school or circle of friends, and just don't know any better. But people who have disabilities are people first -- people just like everyone else, even if they look or sound different. And that's what the "Family Guy" episode portrayed.
What's so wrong with that, Sarah Palin?
If you've seen the episode, I'd love to hear your thoughts. If not, go check it out on Hulu and come back and share!
|Ellen S. is a mother of two, an editor, a writer and a professional snacker. She blogs daily at To The Max, a blog about raising a child with special needs.|