The woman greets me and inquires about things, and I state, “I am just moving into my new office.” She replies, “Oh, did you receive a promotion?” I say, “No, some of us in the department are just switching. I am moving in here so that I can have my own office.” She states mater-of-factly, “Oh, you are selfish.”
I am instantly offended but try not to show it. I counter with, “No, I have ADHD and am easily distracted, so sharing an office is difficult for me.” Before I can even complete that sentence, as soon as she hears, “ADHD,” she begins shaking her head and comments, “I don’t believe in that.”
Now, I am even more offended and less able to mask it, but I try to be diplomatic. I say, “Well, if you knew what it was like to be me, you would think differently.” She repeats, “I don’t believe it.” I push back with, “Well, the nice thing about science is that it does not matter if you believe it or not, a fact is still a fact.” She reiterates, “I don’t believe it. It is just a medical term created to sell medicine. Do you take medicine?” I tell her, “Yes, and I know the difference when I do and when I don’t.” “Do you eat meat?” she inquires? I throw her a curve ball by answering, “No.” Undeterred, she asks, “Do you eat fish?” I answer that I occasionally eat fish. She says, “You need to stop eating fish.”
At this point, I am about ready to give this woman an epic smack down, when her colleague arrives. The woman was not interested in hearing what I had to say because she already had her “belief,” so she abruptly ended our conversation and went into her colleague’s office.
Exchanges like this are beyond frustrating. They are hurtful. They are dismissive of another person’s identity and reality. They are based on ignorance and misunderstandings. They are the reason why I am conducing the “Things People Say to Disabled People” study. I have put together a short, completely anonymous survey that on average is taking people about 5 minutes to complete. To take the survey simply click on the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/386D6T7