Thread: This week, we’re talking about disability-related minority stress and highlighting the disabled academics advancing this area of research.

What is minority stress?

Minority stress is defined as chronic stress experienced by members of stigmatized minority groups due to marginalization, objectification, discrimination, and internalized stigma among others.

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Minority stress has been linked to both mental and physical health disparities, including hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, substance abuse, depression, suicidality, and adverse birth outcomes.

Given the history of minority stress theories, research to date has predominantly focused on minority stress experienced by racial and ethnic minorities and gender and sexual minorities.

Recent work led by disabled researchers Dr. Monique Botha, Dr. Richard Keller, and Dr. Kristin Conover has advanced our understanding of disability-related minority stress.

In 2020, Dr. Monique Botha and colleagues explored the utility of the minority stress model for understanding autistic individuals' experiences with mental health.

Dr. Botha & colleagues found that internal and external stressors, including discrimination, internalized stigma, and concealment, predicted higher levels of psychological distress and lower levels of wellbeing, regardless of exposure to general stressful life events.

Full Article for the work of Dr. Botha & colleagues: Extending the Minority Stress Model to Understand Mental Health Problems Experienced by the Autistic Population
Article Link:…

In 2010, Dr. Richard Keller and Dr. Corinne Galgay published their qualitative study on microaggressive experiences of disabled people.

To explore the nature of disability microaggressions and their consequences, the researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with a small group of people with disabilities.

From the interviews, they outlined eight main domains in their taxonomy of microaggressions (denial of identity, denial of privacy, helplessness, secondary gain, spread effect, patronization, second-class citizenship, desexualization)...

...and two auxiliary domains (exoticization & spiritual intervention).

Full Article for Keller & Galgay: Microaggressive experiences of people with disabilities
Article Link:…

Building on the work of Drs. Keller and Galgay, Dr. Kristin Conover and colleagues developed a measure, the Ableist Microaggressions Scale, to assess external stressors that contribute to minority stress.

Their three-study research project established that four related, but distinct, factors contribute to experiences of disability-specific microaggressions: Helplessness, Minimization, Denial of Personhood, and Otherization.

Full Article: Development and validation of the Ableist Microaggressions Scale
Article Link:…

The formative research studies led by Drs. Botha, Keller, and Conover have numerous implications for future research and policy, as well as in the training and practice of health providers.

When we think of minority stress most may think of this in relation to being Black, Latinx, or any person of color in a society driven by white privilege.

Disability-related minority stress does not exist in isolation of other minority stressors, but it compounds them and creates space where it feels like being othered within minority groups that have had to be strong to survive.

The associations of weakness and disability bring about a certain taboo within minority groups where disability may be seen more like a crisis in faith. Being proud to be disabled and proud to be Black, for example, could be seen as an oxymoron. Yet, it can and does exist.

When Dr. Moya Bailey and Dr. Izetta Mobley wrote their work on the Black Feminist Disability framework, this also speaks to three different forms of minority stress that can all exist together at the same time.

This framework calls “scholars of African American and Black Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Disability Studies to have a flexible and useful methodology...

...through which to consider the historical, social, cultural, political, and economic reverberations of disability.”

This work extends beyond the audience of scholars, but to each of us who work through the minority stress and the fears of being othered to understand “What does Disability mean to me as a Black woman?”

Audrey Lorde can be quoted in saying “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” Many of us weren’t just marginalized because of one part of who we are, it is about the intersections.

The construct of intersectionality is connected to disability because the Americans with Disabilities Act was founded in 1990 and the next year, Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality.”

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Bailey and Mobley synthesize the critical nature of the establishment of the ADA and intersectionality in this way:

“Both Crenshaw’s articulation of intersectionality and the signing of ADA serve as pivotal interventions that illuminate the oppressive structures that impact women of color and disabled people, respectively.

Crenshaw noted the interplay between race and gender in violence against Black women; we take up intersectionality to argue that a single-issue approach to disability fosters the same pitfalls. Our intervention requires intersectionality to explicitly attend to disability.

It is our contention that racism, sexism, and ableism share a eugenic impulse that needs to be uncovered and felled.”

To exist as a Black Disabled woman, many of us are still viewed in light of the “myth suggests that Black women are uniquely strong, able to endure pain, and surmount otherwise difficult obstacles because of their innate tenacity.

Black women are disallowed disability and their survival is depoliticized.” This is a part of the catalyst of minority stress at the intersection of blackness and being a woman.

You can read more about the Black feminist disability framework here:…

Minority stress can look like something different at each intersection, but it is important to note however we identify, whether it is Black, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, Disabled or anything else, that there is nothing inherently stressful about being any of those things.

"Fundamental attribution error" is describes the cognitive bias of assuming ​​that a person's actions and/or situation in life depend on what "kind" of person that person is rather than on the social and environmental forces that influence the person.

Fundamental attribution error is clear in popular use of the term “disability,” as if people born in bodies deemed “different” than the power majority are inherently disabled.

Rather, society literally disables people who are "different" than the characteristics of the power majority. It is critical to talk about "disabled" as a verb and act of violence by the ableist majority.

This distinction is SUPER important for our mental health because we realistically will not be able to convince the power majority with any ease that they need to see their existence differently.

So having the right language to make sense of the reality of our experiences is a powerful way to reduce stress and healing—as we change the world.

The minority stress can even come from within the disability community itself, it is harder in a way to move through disability advocacy spaces dominated by white disability advocates.

#DisabilityTooWhite is critical to how we conceive of the intersectionality of not only feeling othered as a Disabled person of color by an ableist majority, but also by those in the disability community.

Health inequity will impact the lives of Disabled people of color more than white disabled people. I thank Jade for talking about how most service dog handlers are white and the inequities that exist in service dog handlers.

Having this overview on minority stress: Where do we go from here, and how? Thank you to @manijadegarcia for their tips on Survival, Stress Management, Joy and Healing yesterday during their takeover.

When we think of the acronym ACCESS they came up with, we think of the rights each of us have as disabled people to equal access in this society and in higher education.

See thread in the quoted tweet below to review their discussion:

Until the day of equal access and universal accessibility, how can we let ACCESS (revised a bit for this discussion) call us into a safe space that we hold for ourselves and others in our disability community?

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Acceptance of disability being dynamic, visible, invisible, mental and/or physical, but all are valid in the Disability community. Acceptance also speaks to taking steps to dismantle our internalized ableism...

...and everything that our cultures have told us or have led us to believe about disability.Acceptance also speaks to taking steps to dismantle our internalized ableism and everything that our cultures have told us or have led us to believe about disability.

If you have a mental or physical disability, you deserve to have the accommodations you need in the classroom to help you thrive. You have the right to call yourself disabled as disability exists on a spectrum whether you are formally diagnosed or not.

Compassion as a disability identity can seem out of place at first with marginalized identities, but you can be proud of all that you are. Disability doesn’t equal weakness and disability pride is real.

#MyDisabilityMadeMeGoodAt is a powerful hashtag where many of us through out #DisabilityTwitter talk about the good things that their disabilities have taught them. ADHD can make a person good at being creative.

Fibromyalgia can help a person by not pushing themselves too much and signaling when they have.

Community like #DisabilityTwitter, @BlackDisability, etc when medical racism and trauma happens that you are never alone.

Being a person of color in a medical setting does make each of us more vulnerable to medical trauma and racism, but it can be easier to manage emotionally to know that you have a community.

A community is also great for when you are newly diagnosed with #ADHD for example since late diagnosis is so prevalent as people of color, but if you ask for advice and tag #AskADHD so many people will reply and interact to help you.

Health inequities exist and in community, we can help each other thrive.

Empathy for those who are just beginning a disability journey and helping each other to come to a place of peace in the midst of disability.

It is also important to understand that being disabled does not mean you cannot be an ally, each of us can be an ally to a community that we are not a part of.

Those who are sighted as allies to those who are not sighted in our community and each of us who are sighted without communication based disabilities should be adding alt text to not exclude anyone from this community.

White disabled people are allies to Disabled people of color as our experiences can be so different and there could be a different version of privilege or power that a white disability advocate may have to help out marginalized disability communities.

Streamlining because we may be able to do everything, but for our health we don’t have to do everything. Being #InvisibleDisabilitiesWeek, it is important to know that we don’t have to act nondisabled just because that is what is seen on the outside.

Being #DEHEM21, we don’t have to compromise our #AcademicMentalHealth to meet norms set by academia that never respected health needs. It is okay to have days where you are more productive and days where you are less productive.

Be kind to yourself as barriers in society may not often be kind to us existing as disabled people.

Safety because it is critical to find safe places to rest, safe friends to talk to that understand disability, safe allies who will help support you in bad times, safe medical providers that you can trust...

...and safety within yourself to let your disability stop you when it is needed.

Minority stressors can make it hard to feel safe in your life especially when disability compounds with being a person of color. We each can create safe spaces for ourselves to thrive.


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More from @DisInHigherEd

20 Oct
(@manijadegarcia) #Streamlining & #sporulation thread here, discussing ideas for survival, stress management, joy & healing using the acronym ACCESS to organize the ideas.

Almost out of spoons for the day so I'll discuss each briefly & we can keep discussing on my page

(@manijadegarcia) Thinking about our survival; stress management; healing; & joy as #DisabledPeople I am immediately concerned about the levels of exhaustion & lack of access & safety for many of us to engage in #acceptance, #compassion, #community, #epistemology fully.

(@manijadegarcia) For example, Zoom fatigue is real & it bothers me how exposed vulnerable people are who come to social media for connection—since social media is run by the very people deeply invested in maintaining settler colonialism & its reliance on #epistemicide.

Read 7 tweets
19 Oct
(@manijadegarcia) #Epistemology thread here, discussing ideas for survival, stress management, joy & healing using the acronym ACCESS to organize the ideas.

While I take a break I'd love you to read my new related article with @sisterSTEM


(@manijadegarcia) #Epistemology refers to to 'how we know what we know.' #Epistemologies are systems of knowledge & knowing informed by the ways different groups of people navigate & make sense of the world & are related to what we justify based on what's "true" or "real."

Who we are shapes our experiences & therefore our reality. So #disabled people; #women; #BlackPeople; etc. all have their own #epistemologies. Like languages, groups can borrow from each other's epistemologies to build knowledge & make meaning of the world & their lives.

Read 9 tweets
19 Oct
(@manijadegarcia) #Community thread here, discussing ideas for survival, stress management, joy & healing using the acronym ACCESS to organize the ideas.

Some ?'s I'd love us to delve into: (1) how do we use technology to build community in more accessible & safe ways?
(@manijadegarcia) (2) COVID-19 taught us that we have the relatively inexpensive digital tools to build more accessible virtual & blended (virtual + in-person) spaces for creating #community. But tools don't build community, we have to! So how do we do that most effectively?

(@manijadegarcia) (3) How can we utilize #acceptance #compassion & the tools we have to build interconnecting #communities as disabled people with intersecting identities? For example, how do we make people with "psychotic" or "personality" symptoms feel more welcomed?

Read 5 tweets
19 Oct
(@manijadegarcia) #Compassion thread here, discussing ideas for survival, stress management, joy & healing using the acronym ACCESS to organize the ideas.

Be back after a break to dig in! 🥰


(@manijadegarcia) #Compassion to me is like creating welcoming, gentle internal space for the things I am #accepting—so I can be curious instead of judgemental about them. I'm reminded of indigenous views of trauma as "wisdom" & a "teacher," that can lead us to healing.

(@manijadegarcia) #compassion & #acceptance are closely related in my experience, like a bi-directional positive correlation, (increasing either can increase the other—try not to get hung up on stats "rules.") & #SelfCompassion is super powerful for general #MentalWellness.

Read 9 tweets
19 Oct
🧵(@manijadegarcia) Whew, responding to the twitter chat from yesterday stirred up a lot for me. After a break I will return to discuss some ideas for survival, stress management, joy & healing. I used the acronym ACCESS to organize the ideas.

#DEHEM21 #TainoSalud

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(@manijadegarcia) #Acceptance is a key feature of many eastern belief systems (e.g. #Buddhism & #YogaPhilosophy) & shows up in some Western therapies (e.g. #mindfulness #ACT & #RadicalAcceptance in #DBT).

Acceptance has many layers that apply to #MentalHealth & #Disability

(@manijadegarcia) Important point: #acceptance does NOT mean to agree with or like something. It's about doing your best to accept the REALITY of something, including the emotions it may stir.

Acceptance may not always feel good, but I have found it to be good for me.

Read 8 tweets
19 Oct
Q2 From MJ (@manijadegarcia): It seems uncommon to associate mental health struggles w/ disability. I do see discussions of this during #DEHEM21, which I feel hopeful about.

Academic culture is ULTRA VIOLENT & TOXIC towards people with mental health struggles.


(@manijadegarcia) I am in a #ClinicalPsychology PhD program & have found that clinical psychologists are among the MOST violent & most likely to stigmatize #MentalIllness, mostly due to shame from avoiding confronting their own struggles & training in Western medical models.

(@manijadegarcia) Applicants/trainees in clinical psychology are—as a rule— told NOT to discuss their mental health & are punished for disclosing.

This culture mixes in ugly ways with other core -isms in clinical psychology, like racism.


Read 16 tweets

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