What does #100outof100 mean?
In a recent episode of Dr. Phil titled “I Swiped Right on My Quadriplegic Boyfriend,” regarding inter-abled relationships (relationships between a person with a disability and a person without a disability), he was talking with a couple where the male in the relationship had a disability and the female didn’t, and they were having relationship issues. Dr. Phil blamed all of their relationship problems on the man’s disability rather than their inability to effectively communicate, compromise, and understand each other’s needs. He told the inter-abled couple that, “She can be your lover, or she can be your caretaker. She can’t be both.” He advised the couple that “100 out of 100 times this won’t work”. Basically, he gave the advice that an able-bodied person can not be in a relationship with a person with a disability and contribute to caregiving duties. To add insult to injury, Dr. Phil conducted a poll with the audience asking the audience if they would be willing to date someone who uses a wheelchair. Then he asked them if they would be willing to date a wheelchair user who required full time care. That poll demonstrated that only 58% of the audience would be willing to date someone who uses a wheelchair, and only 29% would be willing to date a wheelchair user who required full time care. It is astounding how low these numbers are. We are talking about real people with real feelings, who are fully capable of providing the love and compassion required to have a successful relationship regardless of their disability. It is clear that more work needs to be done to educate the public to help them see the person behind the disability.
This Dr. Phil episode can be very damaging to people (especially young people) with disabilities, and especially to those that require some sort of caregiving. What Dr. Phil doesn’t understand is that everyone, able-bodied or disabled, needs some sort of caregiving throughout their lives. People with disabilities are just as capable of caring for the emotional, financial, and many times physical needs of their partner as any other able-bodied person, regardless of their disability. Most everyone has a goal of finding a partner to share their life with; someone they can count on through thick and thin to be there with them through life’s joys and struggles. This type of advice given by a self-proclaimed doctor (as he is not a licensed psychologist) on national television can be very detrimental to the psyche of a young person with a disability.
On the Hot Shots, and on many other Power Wheelchair Soccer teams, there are multiple young athletes who long to grow up to be successful and have a happy, healthy relationship. Many young individuals with disabilities, however, are also afraid to approach the subject of dating because they feel that their disability will prevent them from finding a partner that will love them because of their disability. Many people with disabilities will shy away from any attempts to find a partner because of the fear of rejection due to their disability. What Dr. Phil, and the majority of his audience, doesn’t understand is that people with disabilities are capable of so many things regardless of their disability. People with disabilities are successful business people, teachers, social workers, engineers, athletes, coaches, advocates, and much more. Their disability is only one part of their identity. People with disabilities have individual personalities, skills, talents, and goals just like everyone else. People with disabilities are able to contribute to a relationship in a positive way regardless of their disabilities. A successful relationship requires communication, understanding of each other’s needs, compromise, and equal contribution to the relationship. A person with a disability has the ability of having all of these qualities, and is capable of contributing positively to the relationship.
When people like Dr. Phil advise couples that they cannot have successful inter-abled relationships, it causes doubt for young individuals with disabilities that they will ever find a partner. It creates a fear that, just because they have a disability, they will live their lives as lonely individuals who will never be able to find a partner that will love them for who they are as individuals. We need to show our young players, as well as any other individual with a disability who has doubt, that it is possible to have a disability and have a successful relationship whether you don’t need a caregiver, your partner is your caregiver, or you hire a caregiver. Whether you are in a relationship with an able-bodied individual or another person with a disability, you are able to have a fulfilling relationship. We need to show people who think like Dr. Phil that there are many successful relationships with people with disabilities. We must dispel any doubt in our young players, and give them hope that they too will find a person who will love them for who they are, and not focus solely on their disability.
There is a popular inter-abled couple on You Tube who have also responded to Dr. Phil’s advice to the inter-abled couple on his show. On You Tube, they call themselves Squirmy and Grubs, but their real names are Shane Burcaw and Hannah Aylward. Shane Burcaw lives with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). He is a successful author and advocate, and he created a non-profit organization called “Laughing at My Nightmare (LAMN)”, which is also the title of one of his books.
Shane has written a children’s/educational book called “Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability”, as well as humorous books outlining his life with SMA called “Laughing At My Nightmare” and “Strangers Assume My Girlfriend Is My Nurse” (which will be released on April 30, 2019). He and Hannah have been in a successful relationship for a little over three years. They were asked to participate in the Dr. Phil episode, but they turned him down. You can watch their video on You Tube explaining why they chose not to participate. After the show aired, they started the hashtag #100outof100 asking people to post their pictures and stories of their successful inter-abled relationships. If you search Instagram,Twitter, or Facebook for #100outof100, you will find a multitude of stories of successful inter-abled couples.
There are so many stories like Shane and Hannah’s that outline how successful inter-abled relationships are possible. There are also a multitude of relationships between two disabled individuals who are able to maintain a healthy, positive relationship regardless of their individual disabilities. Disability is only one aspect of a person’s life. People with disabilities are capable of using their unique gifts and talents to successfully contribute to society, as well as contribute equally to their relationships. It is important that our young Power Soccer players, among other youngsters with disabilities, understand that there is hope for them to achieve whatever their goals are for their lives, including being in a successful, long term relationship. There are a plethora of inter-abled and disabled couples who are making it work. See the photos below of individuals with disabilities in successful relationships.
The take away is that anyone, disabled or not, can have a successful or unsuccessful relationship based on the compatibility of both parties. Unfortunately, this is something that Dr. Phil, and many others in our society, fail to understand. Disability has nothing to do with whether or not a relationship is successful. It is about mutual respect, understanding, communication, and commitment by both parties. That is what makes a relationship work, not whether or not one person has a disability, or needs assistance in some way. Just like Adam and Mja said, “Souls know no difference”.
See What Others Have To Say About The Dr. Phil Episode and About Relationships with Disabilities
Access Your Life (ALY): “100 out of 100”
WHEELCHAIRRAPUNZEL & CO.: “Interabled Couples Push Back Against Dr. Phil’s Ableist Comments About Dating and Disability”
The Chicago Tribune, Balancing Act with Heidi Stevens: “‘There’s a Whole Lot More to Me Than My Broken Body’: Couples Who Caretake and Love Challenge Dr. Phil’s Either/Or Nonsense”
To Learn More About The Hot Shots and About Power Wheelchair Soccer See the Following Links
Follow Us on the Hot Shots Power Soccer Facebook Page
Hot Shots Blog: “How is Soccer Played in a Wheelchair?”
Hot Shots Blog: “What it Takes to be a Wheelchair Soccer Player”
Michael Jeffress, Ph.D.- “The Empowering Sport of Power Soccer”