Disabled People Need Accommodations

Yesterday on Twitter, I read a tweet advising against taking away ear protection from autistic people. Autistic people may wear headphones for a variety of reasons. Some people experience sensory defensiveness. Sensory defensiveness is a “tendency to react negatively or with alarm to sensory input which is generally considered harmless or non-irritating.”

Decrease Sound Tolerance Disorders (DSTD) are also common in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Hyperacusis and misophonia are two common kinds of DSTD. Hyperacusis is a decreased sound tolerance disorder in which noises elicit an adverse or incongruous reaction that a neurotypical person would not consider threatening or uncomfortable. Misophonia is an adverse reaction to a particular pattern and meaning to a specific individual.

Disabled people often require accommodations in a variety of different settings. People struggle needlessly if they are denied access to the support they need. People with visual impairments might need ALT text or braille menus at a restaurant. People who are hearing impaired might need captions on TV or an interpreter at a meeting.

Living with Cerebral Palsy means that accommodations are necessary for me to be a part of my community. Accessible parking makes it easier for me to go shopping because it reduces my fatigue. My accessible parking permit is especially useful when I go to malls, sports stadiums, and other places with expansive parking lots.

In school, I was allowed to use a calculator in math. My disability affects my visual perceptual skills, which makes math challenging. Sometimes, I feel like non-disabled people view accommodations as some significant advantage. When I took the SATs in my junior year of high school, I had accommodations such as extended time and a calculator for the math portion of the test.

I also had these same accommodations in the classroom. These accommodations allowed me to take the same tests and learn the same material as my peers. I never saw accommodations as giving me any advantages. Accommodations allowed me to show what I knew.

Accommodations are not unfair or significant advantages. Disabled people need accommodations in order to participate in society. Access shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a right.


Baranek, Grace T., Laura G. Foster, and Gershon Berkson. “Sensory defensiveness in persons with developmental disabilities.” The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research 17.3 (1997): 173-185.

Cavanna, Andrea E., and Stefano Seri. “Misophonia: current perspectives.” Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment (2015): 2117-2123.

Danesh, Ali A., et al. “Tinnitus and hyperacusis in autism spectrum disorders with emphasis on high functioning individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.” International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 79.10 (2015): 1683-1688.

Kinnealey, Moya, et al. ‘A Phenomenological Study of Sensory Defensiveness in Adults’. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, vol. 49, no. 5, May 1995, pp. 444–451, https://doi.org10.5014/ajot.49.5.444.

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