NPR

Why A Wheelchair Cannot Come Between Love

In his book "In Sickness and In Health," Ben Mattlin chronicles "interabled" relationships between people with disabilities and people who are able-bodied.
"In Sickness and In Health," by Ben Mattlin. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Ben Mattlin was born with an incurable degenerative condition called spinal muscular atrophy, which has prevented him from walking, standing or, as he has aged, using his hands. But like many people who have disabilities, he did find love.

Here & Now‘s Lisa Mullins speaks with Mattlin (@benmattlin) about his story and other examples of “interabled” couples he highlights in his latest book, “In Sickness and In Health.”

He says people with significant disabilities who, like him, found love with able-bodied partners often face discrimination from others who say their partner is “a saint” for being with a disabled person.

“That kind of view is based on an assumption of prejudice that the disabled person is a deficit, and that’s not really fair,” Mattlin says. “We are so much more than our physical limitations. Yes, there are situations, of course, where it doesn’t work out, but my disability was, part of it’s made me who I am, so to separate it out really makes no sense.”

Interview Highlights

On if he was ever concerned that love was unattainable for him

“Honestly no. I was cocky. I was overconfident, perhaps, perhaps naive. Although looking back

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