Over the past 24 years I have learned a thing or two about disabilities. I have had 8,640 days of living with disability. As a result, I have had a unique experience being on this earth. It is different than my parents or any of my siblings. There have been lots of hard days but not all days have been difficult. In fact, there have been many life lessons that I have gained by having a disability.
Here isa my count down list of 25.
25 There will be hard days.
There will be hard days for everyone life is hard at times. Sometimes it will be a hard day due to having a disability and some hard days happen because life is just plan hard.
24 Hard Days do not last forever.
Sometimes in the mist of a bout of very strong OCD I have hard weeks or months. As hard as theres things might seem day after day, there will be a day where it becomes better again.
23 Laughter makes everything better
On those hard days its important to have laughter. A little joke and smile might be all you need to make you feel better. Laughter has been crucial for me because it gives me a small break from my fears and troubles.
22 Never take anything for granted
I know some people out there, I know because unfortunately I have had to deal with them, think that humans beings are naturally able to walk talk and do a verity of things independently and take those things for granted. I do not because I know a lot of people who can not always do these things and they are not broken people.
21 Disabilities are not something to be sorry about
One of the things I hate a lot is when people apologize after I have told them that I have CP. Those people I have found are the nice people who just do not know what to say. There is nothing to be sorry about. I have a good life.
20. Kids are curious about disabilities, so it is important not to dismiss their curiosity.
Both growing up and now as an adult, kids are curious about why I speak differently. I know that it is important to be honest with kids and give them the vocabulary and knowledge to embrace people with disabilities. I am not going to be publishing a book on Cerebral Palsy this year but I am hoping it will be at a later date.
19. Being in the right environment is critical for success.
I have experienced this from jr. high 'til today . When I am in the right environment, I am able to do well and when I am not it is hard for me to meet expectations. It is key that more environments try to accommodate those with disabilities like my Jr College and CSEB did.
18. Words matter.
Despite what the saying, "sticks and stones" says, words can and do hurt. It is important to be respectful to each other. You can do this by ending the R word and listening to minority communities about what words or phrases mean to them.
17. Friendships are critical.
Friendships are important. I did not have a lot of good friends growing up, so I treasure the friendships that I have now. I am friends with my old professors, service providers, and some peers. These relationships are important because they allow me to have experiences outside of my family.
16. Inspiration is not necessarily a good thing.
Being disabled and having disabled friends online has allowed me to understand that Inspo Porn is not always the best way to represent people with disabilities in the media. ( For more click here
15 Ableism is real.
While we learn about a lot of other stuff in school and college we rarely learn about Ableism. I have experienced ableism and it is not fun. It does exist and as a young adult I now have a responsibility to speak against it and make other people aware of its existence.
14. Disabled people have made contributions.
Something else that you do not learn about in school is the story of the disability rights movement. Helen Keller was not the only disabled individual who made a difference to American History. There have be others. These stories need telling. I learned about the 504 protests that happened in SF in the seventies and the Capital crawl to help push through the ADA.
13. Media is slowly changing.
There has never been a better time to be a person with a disability. Shows like Born This Way, Switched at Birth, and Speechless and the modeling industry advocacy organization, Changing The Face of Beauty are showing the world that being disabled is ok. They are doing this by allowing real disabled actors to be portrayed in these roles. This is very exciting.
12. Being Brave is a crucial.
12. Being Brave is a crucial.
Sometimes it is hard to be brave but it is important. When I decided this summer to go back to Speech Therapy at 24 I was being brave and I am seeing the results.
11. Be Assertive
You have to speak up if things are not going right. Back in middle school, I was told to ignore bullies now I know that was wrong information. You have to speak up, not only for yourself but for others coming behind you.
10 People you meet online are not always creepy.
I have met the best people online who are connected to disability. We are truly a global community and are using our voices and life stories to help each other. I am hoping to attend the NDSC conference next June to meet more of these awesome people.
9. No one has a crystal ball.
Though out my life well meaning people have tried to paint a future for me. They said I couldn't go to college or live on my own. This past year I graduated college with a GPA above 3.0. This has proved to me that I make my own future just like my sisters and cousins.
8. Do not assume.
I think humans tend to assume a lot of things about people. I have done this too and feel bad. I know that having an open mind when meeting new people is important.
7. Great expectations.
My parents taught me this one. They never seemed to be bogged down by what professionals said to them. They expect me to be my best. They pushed me to go to college and have advocated for me to have the best life I possibly can. Sometimes when I start listening to nay sayers they are the firsts ones to say no, that I can achieve success in life.
6 Two wheel bikes are overrated
While I can successfully ride a two wheeler on flat lands. I much rather zip around on a three wheel bike. Although it has been broken for a few years. I love that bike a lot.
5. Celebrate the little things
When I am able to do something new. I tense up and get so excited, it is the best feeling because I know how hard I had to work to get there.
4. Community matters.
I have found community in therapy centers, Special Olympics and online. I love making the World CP Montage and mentoring kids with developmental disabilities. The disability community is my tribe. I love being a part of this great community.
3. Hugs are not used enough.
Being involved in the disability community has taught me that hugs are great. It is the best thing that people can do. It feels great and is so easy. I love giving hugs!
2. Sometimes you have to be creative.
This could be called different ways to do things. Recently I have used a nickname for myself and it has worked well.
Inclusion in life is so important. I know I am biased, but I think the best job in the world is advocating for inclusion of people with disabilities!