Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Annual Tokens

This is the time of year when annual workplace awards are given to better-performing employees. Usually, these tokens of appreciation consist of a certificate or plaque for the recipient's cubicle wall, along with a gift card or free lunch or something like that.

Someone may suggest giving an award to the autistic guy who works in the mailroom, or the data entry clerk who uses a wheelchair, or some other low-level employee who is seen as bravely accomplishing all that he or she can do despite having a disability.

Other folks are likely to agree enthusiastically with that suggestion and go around patting themselves on the back for quite some time afterward for being such kind, generous, and enlightened people.

This is what I have to say to anyone who has that attitude: Sorry to interrupt your halo-fitting session, friend, but you ought to think about why there are only one or two workers in your office who have disclosed a disability. (Hint: No, that's not the ratio in the general population. Really.)

And then you may want to consider giving the token autistic guy in the mailroom something different this year—like a chance for meaningful career advancement.

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  • Well said!!

    By Blogger Casdok, at 11:44 AM  

  • Agreed

    By Blogger Patrick, at 12:37 PM  

  • Thanks ABFH,
    I appreciate you posting about this.You've expressed it well.

    The jobs for disabled people that are considered "low level jobs" aren't meant to be opertunities for advancments.

    Actually if an employee that is allowed accomidations (or even if it's just seen as the companies willingness to hire a disabled person) is seen by the company as the employee doing too good of a job, not only will that person not be promoted, they will be fired. At this point they will be seen as no longer filling the job requirements.

    The requirements for that job are that someone be cute, cudly, and obedient. If one is seen as being unwilling to show gratitude for being treated worse than the manager's family pet, they will be replaced by someone who will be grateful.

    People need to stop being grateful to anyone who is willing to tolerate someone who is disabled and start demanding for the disabled to be seen as worthy of respect and real opertunities.

    By Blogger Ed, at 4:55 PM  

  • Very, VERY well said.

    By Blogger Rachel, at 7:27 AM  

  • right on. tokens of pity only hurt us, one way is by allowing people think they've gotten a free pass at other things, like examining why the disabled person is not being taken seriously career-wise.

    By Blogger cripchick, at 3:57 PM  

  • Excellent post.

    By Blogger A Bishops Wife, at 7:44 AM  

  • I agree!

    This is all part of the reason why Eugenics is always there in the background waiting to come to the fore. The attitude that some people should be grateful that other people are kind other to put up their existence is fundamental for autism speaks and other groups.

    By Blogger An American, at 11:16 AM  

  • Thank you! I've been trying for two weeks to figure out why something bugged me. My daughter's principal gave her an award certificate for "improvement in managing frustration"!!! I'm thinking, how about the fact that a 9 year old reads Tolkein? Or has gone from jumping rope 5 times to over a hundred (for some reason this is very important to the PE teacher) this year.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:26 AM  

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