The article talks about the prejudice and discrimination against

The article talks
about the prejudice and discrimination against those with disabilities that
cannot be seen by our eyes. Some examples of such disabilities are psychiatric
disabilities, HIV/AIDS, learning disabilities, and ADHD. The article recounts an
experience with MP Denise Phua, when a man pushed her autistic son and likened the
boy to his own dogs, saying, “Your son has special needs? So do my dogs!” According
to the article, a study conducted by Singapore Management University (SMU)
showed that people are less willing and comfortable with having a romantic
relationship with a person with disabilities than having the person as a
colleague. the study is indicative of the fact that people with disabilities
face more prejudice the more personal the relationship or contact with them
gets. The article also highlights the prejudice Singapore’s authorities have
against those with hidden disabilities, namely mental health conditions, as
they are excluded in the Enabling Masterplan definition of persons with
disabilities. The rationale is that with treatment and medication, those with
mental illnesses are not considered ‘disabled’ because they can function well
enough like that, which in my opinion, is an inaccurate assumption made by
them.

 

This issue took me
by surprise, especially the extremity of discrimination towards MP Denise Phua’s
son. In our supposedly well-educated and better-informed society, I did not
think that such prejudice and discrimination existed. However, on hindsight, I should
have known that such prejudice and discrimination would occur in Singapore
because we are still a relatively close-minded society and keep ‘taboo’ topics
like disabilities under wraps, leaving the public still unaware about persons
with hidden disabilities.

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It seems that the prejudice stems from the public’s narrow
understanding of disabilities, as hidden disabilities get overlooked, dismissed
or undermined. This lack of understanding could have stemmed from people categorizing
the visibly-disabled and those with hidden disabilities as two separate groups,
perhaps influenced by the government when they did not include the latter as a ‘disabled
person’. Since those with hidden disabilities are in a separate category, they
are seen as different, and according to the theory of perceived similarity and
differences, people generally do not like those that they perceive as different.

This could be why little is known about those with hidden disabilities – as people
dislike them, they do not bother to learn more about them and thus continue to
hold onto their misunderstandings. They thus continue to perceive the visibly-disabled
and those with hidden disabilities as different, and continue to remain
uninformed, thus stereotyping them more and caring for them less.

 

I would like to use my voice given to me through social media to
advocate for better treatment and greater understanding of these people,
because what they need now is for people to start talking about the issue at
hand, to create a conversation about it. Ideally, it would create a ripple
effect and spread the message that those with hidden disabilities are disabled
people too, and deserve the same respect and understanding we give the
visibly-disabled. More will start to see the importance of talking and
educating ourselves about hidden disabilities and advocate for the cause as
well. Furthermore, I myself will clear up any misunderstandings I have about
disabilities so that I can be more sensitive and also educate the people around
me.

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