Game of Thrones, Disability, and Hodor.

There is a big spoiler in here. There is a big spoiler in here. There is a big SPOILER in here!

Ok, now that’s out of the way, let’s continue.

Hodor. I’ve always liked his character, mostly because the writers at Game of Thrones didn’t seem to be trying to make him into the next Lennie Small. But after seeing the last episode, I liked his story arc even more.

Short breakdown: White walkers show up. Wise tree root dude, the “children”, Bran, Meera, and Hodor are screwed. Bran just happens to be traveling through the past via the magical tree. All kinds of death, fire and ice. Bran is still in warg mode sifting through the past, Meera and Hodor drag Bran towards a door to the outside through which to escape. Once through, Meera yells at Hodor to hold the door closed so that the white walkers can’t follow. Hodor holds the door and sacrifices his life for Bran and Meera.

At the same time, Bran witnesses Hodor, witnessing Hodor’s own death. Turns out that back when Hodor was a young Wylis, he had a seizure. Bran sees this: Hodor’s eyes go milky (like Bran’s when he is exploring the past) and he starts yelling “hold the door” over and over again. Hold the door. Hold door. Hodor. Did Bran’s presence in the past cause Wylis/Hodor to have the seizure, I’m not sure.

I’m also not sure that this clever little paradox that GoT has set up was meant to be a statement on disability (or at least not solely), but it is such a statement on disability. Given how passive Hodor’s character has been I wondered if Hodor’s final end wouldn’t come while Bran was controlling his body, but Hodor’s last and most important sacrifice is done fully aware—his eyes are clear. And there it is. Hodor’s greatest deed leads to his disability, and his disability leads him to his greatest deed. His intellectual disability is a means to his heroicism. He’s not a hero despite his disability and he doesn’t overcome his disability. His heroicism and his disability are both essential parts of his whole. Yin and yang, peanut butter and jelly, left and right! Ok I don’t want to overwhelm you with deep metaphors, I’ll stop.

Cheers to Game of Thrones for managing (again) for representing disability without resorting to pity and inspiration tropes. Except I’m still grieving over Hodor actually dying. That sucked.



Nightmare Come True: Police Training, Autism, and Down Syndrome

Sometimes I spend time worrying about my infant son’s future.  My son with Down syndrome.  My son with a disability.  My son, a human being.

Among the things I worry about is that the world will see him as nothing but a problem.  An anomaly, a special circumstance, some thing to be “handled” and “managed”.  I worry that people will take one look at him and hold him up to a stereotype, and he’ll never have a chance to be fully human.  If he matches the stereotype, everything he says or does will be a foregone conclusion.  If he deviates from the stereotype, he’ll be nothing but an even greater abnormality.

My fears became reality today. Read the rest of this entry »

The Problem With Down Syndrome: Part 3

Part 2 of my ramblings are here.

What is the problem with intellectual disability?

Can’t get a job.  Can’t read.  Can’t talk.  Can’t understand.  

The notion that intellectual disability (ID) is negative seems a matter of common sense to quite a few people.  It is one of the often cited reasons in commentary and articles that advocate for research with an eye towards “curing” Down syndrome.  Neither side seems to refute the idea that ID is intrinsically bad.  It seems to be a given. Read the rest of this entry »