Why I Dislike the Term 'Sufferer' to Describe Someone Who Has a Disability

October 18, 2018

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Do I suffer from Cerebral Palsy? I think not! The only thing that I suffer from is frustration when other people suffer from ignorance... Although I do not suffer from my disability, in effect, I do suffer from the pain I have, whether that is due to my muscles fighting against one another, or something else. 


Whatever disability a person may have, I'm sure most disabled people dislike being referred to as 'sufferers'. In a recent poll that I created on Facebook, I asked whether people dislike the term, and 62% of people who responded said yes, they dislike it. I also created a poll on Twitter asking the same question, and the response to this one was much the same, with 50% saying 'yes'. 27% answered 'no', and 23% of people said that it doesn't bother them. To be honest, I was quite surprised with how the results turned out. One person said "Others may choose to use this term but it’s never good practice to use it as a blanket term." - I think that this is an extremely good point to make because one person may not mind it, but another person may detest it, like I do.


Although this can be disputed, I don't think people 'suffer' from a disability, they just live with it. I know that some disabilities cause pain and other complications, and yes, people may suffer from the pain or side-effects of their disability, but they do not 'suffer' from their disability specifically. There are times when I have questioned this because I have had some bad days recently, but when my head is in the right place, I know that I don't suffer from my disability. 


People who have disabilities don't tend to 'suffer' from it, it's just some of the symptoms of their disability that they may suffer from. For example; I get a lot of pain in my right arm, you could say that I suffer from that, but I do not suffer from Cerebral Palsy. If other people are anything like me, it will actually make them feel worse knowing that others think that they 'suffer' from their disability, when in fact, they don't. 


Last year, I was in my local news paper in regards to Parallel London, which is an inclusive sports event. I took part, raising money for the UK-based charity, 'Whizz-Kidz', a charity which helps disabled children get the equipment that they can't get on the NHS for whatever reason. When I saw the news article, I noticed that they wrote something like 'Ailsa, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy...', I've said this before, I may have Cerebral Palsy, but I do NOT suffer from Cerebral Palsy. Seeing this made me feel a bit disappointed because it gives the wrong impression to someone who has little knowledge about Cerebral Palsy, and it makes me doubt myself in the sense that if the News portrays that I suffer from Cerebral Palsy, then am I in denial? 


Furthermore, going back to my first paragraph, I said that the only thing that I suffer from is frustration when other people suffer from ignorance, this also ties in with struggling to make myself heard. When people don't listen to me (or anyone who's advocating for me), I suffer as a result of them not listening because I get angry, it effects whether something gets done correctly (or not as the case may be) and sometimes it effects my well-being. 


Of course, everyone will have different views and opinions on this, but if someone has a disability or multiple disabilities does not necessarily mean they suffer from it. They may have a perfectly good and healthy life, and although they may struggle to do certain things, nine times out of ten, I think that most disabled people will say that they do not 'suffer' from their disabilities. 


Overall, I think that it's best not to describe anyone with a disability as 'sufferers'. If they say themselves that they suffer with their disability, then that's fine because it's their own personal preference, but you shouldn't just assume that someone suffers from their disability. 


I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post, I'm interested to hear other people's thoughts on this subject, so please don't be afraid to comment. Thanks for reading, come back next time.


Bye for now.

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