New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense

Disability Is Natural Books and Media

In 1960, I was a too-tall and too-gangly 10-year-old girl—and tomboy—in the fifth grade. Because I was the tallest of all the fifth-graders, I was chosen to play Tom Sawyer in the school play. There was nothing to be done about my being taller than all my classmates in real life, but the teacher apparently felt it was not okay for a girl to be taller than the boys in the play—heaven forbid! Since I was a ham (and a tomboy) portraying a male was okay with me.

But something even greater was awaiting fifth-graders: being in the school band! At the first band meeting, most of us fairly salivated at the sight of the bright and shiny instruments; we couldn’t wait to get our grimy hands on them and make our mark in the musical world. And there was no doubt what I drooled over: the drum set!

Mr. Smith, the larger-than-life band director, kept our rowdy bunch in line as he spoke briefly to each student, deciding who would play what. When my turn came, I blurted out my desire as I pictured myself holding the sticks, banging away on the snare drum and the high hat . . .But my reverie was shattered by Mr. Smith’s directive: “Girls don’t play drums" . . .

Our attitudes and beliefs drive our actions and can have a profound impact—positive or negative—on another’s life. How many times a day do we behave like Mr. Smith: Knee-Jerk Reaction—Because I Said So—Those Are the Rules—That’s Just the Way It Is—etc., etc., etc.? (Add your own to this list.)

When we behave this way, how many dreams are crushed, what opportunities are lost, what harm have we caused? Click here to continue.

"Girls Don't Play Drums"

If we want better outcomes for people with disabilities, families, schools, and organizations, let’s be more skeptical about our "rules." Let’s challenge conventional wisdom and question treasured traditions. Let’s explore possibilities and ask, "Why not?"

Kathie Snow