I got in an argument with a friend, as one does, and said something I may not have actually come out and said on the Internet before, but it is the basis of a lot of things I think. I really respect her for being willing to have this conversation with me.
her: i don't want to have a child with a disability because i know that if i do i will have to, in fact, love that kid like crazy and put my everything towards its thriving. i mean, depends on the disability but i think that a lot of parents do struggle with that
me: okay well, I don't mean to be a dick, but just so you know people can accidentally have a child with a disability, my mom did, obviously. so, like, keep it in mind b/c I always hear people being like "I'm not going to have a kid with a disability because I can't handle, so I'm getting amnio" or whatever. and I'm like....ehh.
her: no, of course but amanda, i don't mean to downplay whatever your mom went through, but you obviously do not have as severe a disability as someone with downs. if my kid had aspergers it would be really different
me: oh my gosh, for real?
her: yeah of course
me: how many people do you know with down syndrome
her: well, only patients
me: I know a lot of people with down syndrome and when people say things like that I wish they could know all the people I know
her: but anything really, whether it was downs or something like marfans or fragile x. i know that they are and can be really, really awesome people to know. and i'm not saying i wish that they don't exist or anything like that at all, it's just obviously they aren't easy kids to raise.
me: you think marfan's is worse than autism?
her: i don't think marfans is worse than autism, but there is a spectrum with autism
me: okay like, I don't want to be a dick to you b/c I think you're really cool but...this is really silly
her: no it's cool, i want to know what you think
me: and I know you feel like "Amanda's not really disabled, she's my friend, but ~some people are really disabled and I feel different about them~" sorry if that's a harsh way to put it, but something I have noticed about the way people talking about parenting a disabled child: people can frame any disability however they want, like, oh it's really difficult, so difficult that the parent doesn't have to be judged for any decisions they make, ever.
I actually think something that has made this really clear for me is that autism is a really stigmatized disability in terms of kids with autism supposedly being really, I don't know, cold and smearing shit or something, and with down syndrome there's more a stereotype of kids being sweet--so actually you see parents being able to frame raising a kid with autism in a really negative way, much more negative than parents can usually get away with when it comes to ds, even if you compare two essays/blogs/interviews/whatever where the kid with autism is more independent or whatever than the kid with ds. and that is why I find the "your disability is milder" thing to be kind of a red herring.
I grew up disabled in a really stereotypical way, like I felt really guilty and like a huge burden. it doesn't really matter what disability I have, it's a cultural experience that people have across levels of independence, IQ, etc.
(additional note: I was predicted not to be able to live independently, or at least that was implied, and this hangs over like...every conversation I have with my parents. it's a huge factor in our relationship and in how I live--and actually, in my abilities as well. and sometimes it annoys me when whether someone actually CAN live independently is treated as the most important thing when they're talking about disability or ableism. because tons of stuff can happen to you just because of predictions that someone made about you when you were little, and that matters even if the predictions were wrong!)