Dis-Ability or Diff-Ability

I love working with people – with or without a diagnosed disability.

Some people I work with have presenting symptom(s) that lead to a formalised diagnosed disability and/or mental health condition, while other people do not. Although a large part of my work is with people with diagnosed disability.

Diagnosis or not, it does not matter;
ultimately, we are all the same
in that
we are all different

Thus, I prefer to use the word ‘Diff-ability’ rather than ‘Disability’.

Leading into that explanation, let’s have a very brief English lesson on what a prefix is. A prefix is combination of letters (aka part of a word) that is added at the beginning of another word, changing its meaning completely.

  • Dis’ – is a negative prefix. It means not or none
  • Dif’ – is a prefix that means apart, away from, in a different direction

Now back to the word disability:

If we hyphenate the word dis-ability, using the prefix meaning above, it suggests that a person with a diagnosed disability has ‘no’ ability – this I strongly disagree with as I know that ALL people have ability; I also know we all have different abilities.

I have formally worked with people with varying forms and intensity of diagnosed disability since 2002 (but I really have informally been around disability for most of my life), and by geez, do I see a lot of abilities and – no different to a person without a diagnosis – I see that everyone has ‘different ability’.

Disability is a word that can bring about separation in society and does not bring an equalness to all. It suggests that some people have dis-ability while others do not.

But what if we as a human race were to approach life considering we are all the same, in that we are different?

We all have ability – Fact.
We all have different ability – also Fact.

So what if we changed the word dis-ability (i.e. meaning none or no ability) to diff-ability (i.e., meaning we are all a part of the one but are different) and thus introducing the irrefutable fact that we, as a human race, all have a DIFF-ABILITY – yep, we all have Different Abilities.

At FABIC, we approach everyone in that manner.

The Body Life Skills program which I introduced and that is widely used at FABIC, knows that:

  1. All unwanted behaviour is preceded by anxiety and
  2. Anxiety occurs from the body when a person is in a part of life that they perceive they do not YET have the skills (i.e. the ability) to respond to

Thus, when supporting lasting behaviour change it is simply about identifying:

  1. The abilities a person has already mastered and
  2. The abilities a person is YET to self-master.

And then bringing focus to:

  1. Skills building so all develop the ability to live and reach their full potential, noting that no person should ever be compared with another as there are varying factors based on the life circumstances we were each born into and thus influence our FULL POTENTIAL.

So what if our approach as a society was to consider that we are all actually the same, in that we are all different … thus each and every member is a part of the one, in that we all have DIFF-ABILITIES.


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