What are some significant moments/events in your life that connect to disability?
I’ve been connected to disability for most of my life. In high school, I was friends with many other children who didn’t seem to “fit in” with the rest of the kids that went to the school. Most of the time I couldn’t place my finger on why they were seen as outsiders or different. All I knew was that they were worth my time to get to know each person who seemed like an outsider.
I had a friend named Rick who talked a little slower than the rest of the class and took just a bit longer to understand the day’s lessons. My classmates would pick on him relentlessly. I didn’t know why. Maybe I have always rooted for the underdogs or perhaps it is simply that I have been the butt of so many “jokes” and pranks that I could put myself in his shoes. Either way, I made it a point to invite him to homecoming one year—I must say I thought he was quite handsome all dressed up.
In graduate school, I had a friend named Carol whom I used to study with and hang out when not inundated with projects and homework. She had been involved in a severe car accident that left her with permanent brain damage. The damage had caused her to have lifelong emotional problems and personality changes.
All I saw was an interesting, hardworking, brilliant classmate who loved speech pathology as much as I did. Around that time, I also befriended a gentleman who had been in an ATV accident years back. He could no longer talk, had movement problems and trouble swallowing. I didn’t care—he was funny as all get up 🙂
I could go on and on about all the people I’ve connected with over the years who had disabilities, but I didn’t see them as “disabled” or “damaged.” I saw each as a person who had conqured adversity despite circumstance or situation. Many had this intrinsic wisdom about their person—their priorities were different than everyone else I had encountered in life.
I am thankful for each person that I have known on my journey.