Thursday, 26 March 2015

The Power of Words by Sarah Evans

It's no secret that there are stereotypes everywhere when it comes to disability. This is something that I have knwon most of my life, but it still struck me in a bit of a new way last week. Growing up, I have always been an advocate for disability issues. It always made me cringe when I would see a news story on television or in the newspaper about kids with disabilities who had such difficult lives and once or twice a year got to do something amazing like go on the ice with their famous sports heroes. The news made it sound like it was the only fun or normal thing that the kids did all year.

This brings me to last week. In April, I am going to be doing a novel writing challenge called Camp Nanowrimo. The main character in my novel is a firefighter who develops Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Last week, I read a couple of articles by someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Not only did it talk about the disorder, but it also addressed some of the common misconceptions that authors make when writing about characters with it. For example,  the article said that not all people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder have a lot of flashbacks and they don't throw up after flashbacks. I guess that those are common portrayals in fiction that are inaccurate.

I have sort of realized that writers of both fiction and nonfiction are gatekeepers of sorts. People don't only look to us to be entertained, but they look to us for information - even if they are just reading a good book. It is important that we get it right because we have more of an effect on the way that people view things, and other people, than we often realize.

Sarah Evans was born with cerebral palsy and has been a long time member of AbilityOnline.org. She mentors other members and openly shares her valuable experiences. Sarah is also an aspiring writer.

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