- a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.”
I’ve worked with a lot of people with a wide range of disabilities, so I’ve often thought about what disability means. Now that I qualify for an accessible parking pass myself, I’ve been thinking about it even more & from a different perspective.
I strongly believe that accommodations for people with disabilities are good for all of us. For example, wheelchair ramps help people pushing strollers. My daughter and I were learning to walk together.
Our weaknesses can help us build on our strengths; individually and collectively. I’ve noticed that since my legs are weaker, my arms have had to get stronger. Like how the sense of hearing is stronger in people who are blind. People with disabilities can still contribute just as those without disabilities, just in different ways sometimes.
I have a physical disability now, I’m fortunate that it’s minor, but I also have the mental health issue. I’ve been thinking about different kinds of disabilities – cognitive as well as physical. Understanding another’s mind is like trying to see the quality of another tv on your tv. This is what it was like trying to understand my own mind for a while.
After the first ankle fusion, the surgeon said I would never run again. He explained that there are restrictions and limitations. That I just wouldn’t be able to run, not that it just wouldn’t be recommended. I was determined to find a way & thought of Terry Fox, how he ran with a limp. What an inspiring person with a disability!
Unfortunately, after the second ankle fusion, running with a limp won’t be possible. So I tried riding a bike – during a period in between surgeries when I had both air casts off. Getting on and off the bike is very challenging, but I was able to pedal. Now I’m determined to make cycling my new running, at least maybe with a stationary bike. I found a way to “run”. I’m not dis-abled, I just have different abilities now.
I think some disabilities are like super powers, especially ADHD. Right now, I have to say I don’t feel my disability is a superpower for me. Realistically, it limits what I can do and makes things more difficult for me than the average person my age. I say this because I remember trying to be very positive about learning disabilities with students. I hope that in my attempt to be positive, I wasn’t dismissive of their very real struggles.
I love movies & tv shows that normalize disabilities like the movie “Downsizing” where one of the main characters has a prosthetic leg, and Barbie Dolphin Magic where one of the characters wears an air cast and rides a knee scooter. Barbie also has new dolls coming out – one who has a prosthetic leg and one who uses a wheelchair.
“Weakness carries within it a secret power. The cry and the trust that flow from weakness can open up hearts”….”those we most often exclude from the normal life of society, people with disabilities, have profound lessons to teach us. When we do include them, they add richly to our lives and add immensely to our world”. Jean Vanier from ‘Becoming Human’