The Psychology of Ableism and Communication – Psychology Today

I became a psychology professor because I’ve been interested in communication ever since I was born. I was born with Moebius syndrome, a disability characterized by facial paralysis and the inability to move my eyes from side to side. At an early age, I understood that the way I communicated was unusual, that people were confused by my lack of facial expression. I became fascinated with communication: facial expression, body language, and words. I became more expressive in other channels, something I now call alternative expression.

 Kathleen Bogart

Little Kathleen with a bunny birthday cake

Source: Kathleen Bogart

My interest in communication led me to study psychology as a college student. I set out to do my very first college term paper on Moebius syndrome. I showed up at the library expecting to find pages and pages of answers, but I discovered that there were only a handful of psych papers published on it. This was bad news for two reasons: First, psychologists weren’t interested in helping people with Moebius syndrome, and second, I didn’t have enough sources to write my term paper. That was the moment that crystalized what I would do with my life: I realized I was uniquely qualified and motivated to build psychological research about facial paralysis and other disabilities. 

I went to graduate school, became a social psychology professor, and have published the largest and most