Meg Casey
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"Most Able Disabled"

Meg Casey's handicapped issues column

Mr Oyster
Mr. Oyster and friend
byf Meg Casey

Love And The Disabled Person

Interested Or Nice?

May 25 1983

Dear Meg,

How can I tell when I'm out with a person if they're honestly interested in me or just being nice? Am I interpreting their signals accurately or am I reading into them what I want to see?

Dear Reader,

The best advice I could give anyone in this situation whether they have a disability or not is to take it slowly. There's no blue-ribboned recipe for any love potion that I've heard of lately, so unless you are prepared to risk being burnt you have to take things easily and move along one step at a time.

Healthy, deep and meaningful relationships between people usually don't just happen, they are earned, be a friendship or a love affair. Many hours can be spent talking, laughing and learning about each other until you finally feel at some point that "at last" you know the one.

But even then, I'm afraid, there is no guarantee. Some people unfortunately are brought to a very rude awakening to reality after having invested many comfortable years in a relationship with the person they love only to find that they never really knew or understood that person at all.

I certainly don't mean to discourage you from going out there and trying your luck with the best of them, but that is exactly what it will be – A case of luck!

Simply use some caution when checking out a prospect. In all fairness to the other person it is very possible to set yourself up for getting burnt. A person desperate for companionship is a prime target. You might as well have the word CANDIDATE stamped across your forehead – it can be that obvious at times.

Going out, dancing, dating … there're a lot of fun. There is a plenty of time to do them in, so take your time. Relax, enjoy the fishin' in the style of a true freshman. Cast out your line and enjoy the surroundings while you wait. If you think you feel a nibble, give the line a little a teaser tug see. If something bites, then begin to reel it in slowly but steadily, playing with it as it comes. Always be careful not to get overeager and reel too quickly. Your line may knot up or the fish may snap it. (Then again, if you rock the boat enough, you may fall in.)

Any fisherman will tell you tails of the glorious fight in the ones that got away. Each one left them more eager to try again another day. The challenge makes it exciting!

If the person "is that good" they'll be worth waiting for. … And if you're that "that good" of a fisherman they'll still be hanging on.

The fishing analogy is commonly to explain dating or sales. Selling as a concept is not limited to products but also getting others to want an idea or yourself. Meg often went on fishing trips with her dad or her church's pastor.

Happily Handicapped Ever After

January 23 1985

Hello Readers,

A topic that is being talked about more and more today is one of the big issues gaining strength with the people in the disabilities movement this decade. The topic Dating, Love, Marriage and the Disabled Person.

It is a subject, as unbelievable as it might seem, about which there is a lot of ignorance. Some of the public cannot conceive of that kind of intimacy ever happening successfully. And never between mixed couples!

Even more remarkable is the reality that there are still people amongst the ranks of the disabled in 1985 who don't realize that not only is it "possible" to successfully achieve any or all of the above, it is "perfectly all right" too! Perfectly alright to see it, to want it, to go after it – to try to hold onto it!

The odds of a relationship between two people reaching a happily ever after ending today are no better or worse should one or both people have a disability. A relationship is as strong as the people involved in it and the strength of their desire to stay together and make it work. Every relationship takes working at because with it causes changes, and compromises must be made eventually to make them fit into the relationship comfortably.

Disabled Dating Game

April 20 1983

I've finally gotten some news about a dating service for the disabled, thanks to the network of family. friends and associates who were enlisted into this treasure hunt. A recent wire service article was spotted flaunting the bold headline "New Dating Service for Disabled Looks Beyond Handicap". Unfortunately, the reporter's name wasn't included. The information has been traced back to the Pittsburgh bureau and a more accurate business mailing address will be forthcoming for "Specialized Dating" located in Pennsylvania. Then you can get down to the business of dating!

Specialized Dating was started after recognizing the need and difficulties encountered when trying to socialize. Cynthia is disabled herself. She has a mild case of Cerebral Palsy and uses two wooden canes to get around. Knowing the problems she runs up against she and Karen began thinking about others more severely restricted, such as those people confined to wheelchairs.

Some people have criticized Specialized Dating for contributing to society's segregation of handicapped people, saying that "the entire disability movement has been one of integration and this goes against the grain."

"It is not our thing to get these people out of their houses and into bars and restaurants an theaters where you really don't see anybody handicapped."

People without disabilities are welcome to join the program.

One of the biggest issues in this whole dating process is this ridiculous stigma placed on the disabled as if they were non-sexual human beings.

Some dating services have been reported for refusal to take on disabled clients due to the risk of not being able to match them up with anyone else because they have a disability.

Specialized Dating had more than 200 people join before the first membership list was distributed. For $30, a member receives three monthly lists of people of the opposite sex.

A short profile of each member is culled from a questionnaire asking about occupations, interests and expectations of a date. Also included is a physical description of the handicap. Members must be at least 21 years of age.

Personally I commend these two brave women for venturing into this business in the true pioneer spirit despite warning of "financial risk." It is a great idea and it's about time!

Handicapped Dating Services

July 4 1984

I promised to keep alert for any new information about dating services for the disabled and I am delighted to finally have something at long last.

"HI" - Handicapped Introduction is a dating service for disabled and non-disabled adults who feel disability is no barrier to companionship. "HI" will send information and a questionnaire upon request.

Another possibility for more information in the New York area: Queens YM- WWILA: a singles group for physically disabled men and women. This information came courtesy of RESPOND, Inc. in New Haven. Many such helpful tips can be found in their monthly newsletter. You might like to put yourself on their mailing list. Good luck with whatever your plans are for this. I wish you all the best.

The handicapped dating service "Specialized Dating" described in these 1983/84 columns was hampered by pre-internet limits such as having to wait 3 months for the list of potential suiters to be updated.

It had a relatively high cost considering the tiny local customer base they had and adjusted for inflation.

The term "Specialized Dating" is now used for any group of people besides people with disabilities. Religion based websites include "Christian Mingle" to "Muslim Matrimony". Some of these site foster the segregation issue raised about handicapped dating in this article. Other handicapped dating websites can be found, but the Pittsburgh based service listed here doesn't seem to have survived these obstacles.

Handicapped Heartthrob Teasing

January 4 1984

Hello Meg,

I am disabled also, spinal bifida, and like you haven't had a great deal of success with the opposite sex. None at all to be bluntly honest, until recent months. I am now in my mid twenties and have just begun to see someone on a fairly regular basis. These have just been casual dates but everyone, especially relatives, make such a big deal out of it. They tease and question me about him until I could almost die of embarrassment. Why do they react that way?

Sincerely, L. G.

Hi L. G.,

I think they make such a big deal about it because it is a big deal! Isn't it for you?

I do know what you mean though. The teasing that goes on just a bit too long. The constant observation of the two of you together at family functions, and every-time you look up some body winks at you exaggeratedly and gives you the OK or thumbs-up sign sign - and none to discreetly either.

It's all fun and done because they care and are happy for you to be going out and having a good time with someone you like so much.

Regardless of age everyone goes through the treatment. It is part of the procedure for dating! Everyone gets into the teasing therefore everyone must go through it in his or her turn. That's part of the rules!

I've teased my brothers, nieces and nephews, my friends, and even my widowed aunt about their latest heartthrobs and they've been given it back to me both barrels too. So you're not alone.

Just relax and get into it. You're not being treated in any abnormal fashion but in very normal and old-fashioned way with affectionate humor. What you don't know is that you're a great aunt Lilly is in the kitchen picking your wedding date!

If it bothers you too terribly speak with them about it. Or - do something drastic, stand up and shout that you're pregnant and he won't marry you! I believe that the mood swing will be quite impressive. But of course then everybody will tease you about your due date!

Laugh, give them a raspberry - but above all enjoy yourself. That's what counts.

Meg accomplished many of her hopes and dreams and in the years before her death did find romance.

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photographs and other content courtesy of the Casey family unless noted
blog posts and art by Meg Casey
originally published 1982 to 1985 in the Milford Citizen newspaper