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Disability can happen to anyone, and a vast majority of disabilities are not birth defects and were acquired through accident, age or illness. I have been disabled my whole life because Spina Bifida is a birth defect and disability is everything, I have ever known but not everyone has been disabled for as long as I have. As a disabled person life is hard sometimes because we live in an inaccessible world that is designed for able-bodied but in a way, I am glad I have always been disabled because I have spent my whole life working learning work through challenges and have pretty much mastered what a newly disabled person would struggle with. When you are disabled, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that your disability is the problem because society wants everyone to believe that being disabled is the worst thing that can happen to you and that your life has no hope. Coping with a disability is difficult for everyone because we are all impacted by inaccessibility, but it can be a little harder when you are not use to dealing with ableism and unnecessary barriers. In this post, I am going to talk about a few things that every newly disabled person needs to know when they become disabled.
Asking for help is not weakness– As a disabled person with a physical disability I can do most things without assistive but sometimes I do need a little help because my disability limits my ability to do certain tasks. When you are disabled sometimes people will tell you to never ask for help because it’s a sign that you are giving up and its weakness. It is so sad that some people truly believe that asking for help is weakness because it’s the opposite of that and its strength. It takes strong person to realize sometimes you need a little help and that is okay because although I think you should do things independently as much as possible, I don’t think that you should be afraid to ask for help. Able-bodied people don’t need as much with basic tasks as a disabled person but even able-bodied sometimes have to ask for help sometimes because we can’t always do it all. Why are we telling disabled people that they can’t ask for help when able-bodied sometimes need help because disabled people have more barriers than an abled person would. If anything, we should encourage people to ask for help because you can really hurt yourself if you try to do something that is unsafe.
Your disability is not the problem- When you are disabled it’s easy to start thinking that life would so much better with a cure because sometimes you feel like you’re a burden to others. Life is hard with a disability but the disability itself is not the problem and the real problem is the lack of accessibility and ableism. If the world was truly accessible for disabled people, my disability wouldn’t be a problem because we would be able to accommodate it. Do not believe anyone that tells you that your disability is the problem because that is something you cannot change, and the real problem is the lack of accessibility and ableism that makes disabled people face more barriers than we have to. Stop blaming yourself for your disability because ableist people that think life would be better without disability is the problem and is the reason some disabled people think they don’t belong.
It’s okay to use assistive device– It always cracks me up when people come up to me that I should not use my assistive devices and that they are sorry I need to use a wheelchair. Assistive devices get a bad rap and people assume that because it is always assumed that our assistive devices are burden to us and people think that best solution is to get rid of our assistive devices. Why are glasses accessible by society but not wheelchairs? Both glasses and wheelchairs are assistive devices, and the only difference is what you use them for because you would use a wheelchair to act as your legs and a pair of glasses to read. I have never had the choice to not use assistive devices because can’t walk without them and if I refused to use them, I wouldn’t be able to leave my home. Assistive devices get a lot of stigma but for some people they are necessary because assistive devices are freedom and allow disabled people to have a life!
Some people may not believe your disability is not real- The physical challenges of my disability are very visible, and I don’t generally get accused of faking my disability because you can see it, but it happens often with people who have invisible disabilities. If you are disabled and someone is accusing, you of faking your disability it doesn’t mean that your disability is not real and in my experience people that yell faker without proof lack understanding. If you feel pain, it’s probably not your imagination because even if doctors are struggling to diagnose you that doesn’t mean your pain is not real pain. Some people will not believe you have real pain and that is okay because it’s not your job to convince them.
Acceptance takes time– I have been disabled my whole life and you would think that because I have been disabled for as long as I can remember that I wouldn’t struggle with acceptance but that is where you would be wrong because every disabled person has struggled with acceptance at some point and if someone tells you they haven’t they probably lying to you. As disabled person who has had challenges their whole life I have struggled with acceptance, because it’s hard to accept your disability when you can’t do something that everyone else can. People sometimes think that when you are disabled that you just learn to love your disability, but acceptance is not a destination and it’s something you are always working to get better at. Remember acceptance takes and if it takes you ten years to come to terms with your disability that is okay because we all are on our own acceptance journey’s and there is no time limit to disability acceptance. Some disabled people take longer to accept their disability than others and that is okay if you take longer to accept your disability than your friend because every disability is different, and some people struggle more than others.
Life can be hard with a disability because we live in an inaccessible and ableist world but it’s not the fault of disabled people. My life would be a lot easier with a cure, but the lack of cures isn’t the real problem and it’s that disabled people often feel isolated because people assume things about our disabilities without asking. The world needs less ableism and more accessibility, and we can do that without cures because I think the world needs disability. Disabled people see the world in a whole different way that sometimes able-bodied miss and the solutions isn’t to just get rid of disabled people but it’s to learn how to be inclusive. If you are newly disabled and someone is shaming, you for using your assistive it doesn’t mean that you should stop using them because they are just being ableist and is the reason it’s so important to continue to advocate for disabled people. If you are newly disabled and can’t do things the way you used to be able to that is to be expected. Find a different way to complete task if something is harder for you because there is always a way to make the simplest take more accessible. What advice would you give a newly disabled person?
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