Monday, August 20, 2007


People always tell me how independent I am, and how well I've adjusted to my disability. You know the reactions, I've touched on them before. "Wow, you're amazing", "I could never do what you do?", "How do you do such and such...?", "You're such an inspiration", "You certainly don't let your disability get in the way...".

Phrases like this piss... me.... off!! These are said by people who have no clue about what it actually means to have a disability. People who cannot begin to comprehend that getting in and out of my chair is just as simple for me as I assume standing up must be for them. There's nothing amazing about it. I assume it all stems back to the "you're amazing because you don't just roll over and die" sentiment, telling me backhandedly that if they were disabled, they'd rather die than learn to adapt. What they don't get is that I have never walked. Yes, on the surface they get it. But I don't think they really "get" it. I don't miss walking because I have never done it. I have no idea what it's like to walk, and I don't spend that much time wondering. Really. But this leads me to a question I ruminate over from time to time:

Do you think it's easier to adapt to a disability when you've dealt with it from birth or when you've acquired it?

I can see points on both sides. First of all, from birth, as I've mentioned, you don't miss anything. You don't pine for the legs you once had. Disability is all you know. And how people treat you is how they've always treated you. When you acquire a disability, I imagine there would be an adjustment from being one of those able-bodied people who look at people with disabilities with wonder and/or fear and/or discomfort. But, as the able bodied person you were before your disability, you learned certain life skills that many people with disabilities don't have as much access to learning.

I think when you have a disability from birth, you have to deal with alienation and segregation from the get go. Often people born with disabilities, or acquire them at a very early age, don't have those same chances to develop socially, physically, mentally, as their peers and this is a big thing. Someone who acquires a disability later on in life, although they will most likely grieve their loss, have a better chance at having acquired those life skills.

Now, of course I talk in generalizations. I am well aware there are socially inept non-disabled people, and quite socially adept disabled people, whether born with their disability or not. But I am wondering how much one's upbringing in childhood for disabled vs. non-disabled affects adulthood for those who are born with a disability and those who acquire one later on.


Have I even made sense? The more I write today, the more I feel my thoughts are too jumbled to express clearly.