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5 things people get wrong about people with a disability

Aug. 15, 2017
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Hi, I’m Skyy and I’m disabled.

No, wait, that’s not how I’m going to introduce myself. This is how I am going to introduce myself:

Hi, my name is Skyy I’m a junior in high school. I take ballet, and I like to read, blog, make YouTube videos, binge Netflix shows and share about my disability. If you saw me walking around town, you wouldn’t know I have a disability. Maybe if you saw my scar on my leg you would wonder why I have it, but that’s about it. 

My disability is mild hemiplegic cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy is an abnormality of motor function, i.e. the ability to move and control movements. It comes in different forms, with various levels of severity, and it can have different effects depending on the person. My cerebral palsy was caused by a bleeding in my brain which affected me on the left side of my body. My muscles are tighter, and when I was growing up I walked differently: I walked on my toes and my leg turned inwards. I had 3 surgeries to stabilize the way I walked, and that is why today you wouldn’t be able to tell if I had a disability.

Now that you know me a bit, I’d like to describe five things people get wrong about people with a disability. All disabilities are different, and all people who have disabilities are affected differently, so these five things aren’t going to be true for everybody. But if you’ve been making assumptions about people with disabilities, well, here are five things you might want to reconsider.

1. People with disabilities aren’t able to do physical activities.

I have a disability and I can walk and dance. people in wheelchairs can dance, lift weights, and many more things. Just because someone doesn’t look the way you might expect someone doing a particular activity to look, that doesn’t mean they can’t do it.

2. People with disabilities “look disabled”.

I have a disability, and I don’t look disabled. The truth is, you can’t “look disabled”: by expecting people with disabilities to look a certain way, you are putting a label on something that looks different in so many ways. A person’s disability is not the sum total of who they are, so don’t label them. That’s why I corrected myself in my introduction: to show that I am not my disability.

3. People with disabilities can’t do the same things able-bodied people can do.

People who have disabilities are models, athletes, physical therapist, actors, and so on. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they can’t do what everyone else can. 

4. People with disabilities can’t live on their own.

Disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, and many people have disabilities that don’t impede them from taking care of themselves. As for people with disabilities that more significantly impair their day-to-day lives, there are programs that allow people with disabilities to get their own place to stay. People will come check on them, but they get to live independently for the most part.

5. People with disabilities wish they weren’t disabled.

Even if I got the chance to get rid of my disability, I wouldn’t, because it makes me who I am. And I know many other people with disabilities who would agree. If you have a disability or know someone who does, it's okay to be proud of it, ‘cause it’s cool!

This is not to make you feel guilty for thinking a certain way: it’s nobody’s fault that society teaches us to treat people with disabilities differently. I just want you to hear this so that, when you do meet someone with a disability, you won’t be discouraged from being their friend or treating them with respect. And just because they don’t have all the same abilities as you doesn’t make them less human or mean they can’t accomplish the things they set out to do: people with disabilities are breaking barriers and doing things you can’t even imagine, whether you’re paying attention or not.