Monday, June 18, 2012

Relating to someone with a disability

Today I got some time to myself to speak to an aid at the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled. She has a mild case of cerebral palsy. Her arms are very strong and she is in a wheelchair but she is able to do everything for herself. She is cognitively very intelligent and very educated. She is absolutely wonderful and I sincerely enjoyed the one on one conversation. She expressed how pleased she is with everything we are doing and she shared with me some of her experiences of having a disability and being treated less. She asked if it was the same in the United States. I told her a little bit about my own disability, lipomyelomeningocele (associated with spina bifida) and how even though I can walk, I cannot run, jump, and I am not nearly as fast and coordinated as lots ofpeople and I am often treated differently, and it is something I have had to learn to deal with. I told her even though our culture is different I thought the average person still treated someone with a disability differently because they did not know any better and we do have to prove to them we are able. We talked about how proving ourselves is hard sometimes but we can do it. I think she liked finding out that I had been through so much and was there still helping the children, just as she was, even though her life has been completely different than mine, we could relate a little. I have always feared that I might have children with disabilities because of my own. I have read a lot online from other mothers who have heathy  children with no neurological problems or complications, but when you have grown up in and out of hospitals I suppose it is a valid fear. Seeing and working with her is a wonderful inspiration and I know if she can raise two children, than I certainly can.  In the United States we hear about athletes who have a prothsetic leg and have run marathons but I have never been very athletic. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have new feet, but then I also remember how lucky I am to walk. So what if I cannot run or jump like everyone else can. I am blessed with so many wonderful friends, family, and experiences, new feet are small in the large picture ;)

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