Tag Archives: Struggle

Disability Discrimination: A Problem We Need to Talk About

15 Nov

This week, I gave a presentation on disability discrimination in one of my college classes. I had been doing research for the past few months, and I enjoyed bringing this problem to light since it is very personally relevent. Therefore, I knew I had to share it with the blogging community as well

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines an individual with disabilities as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that does not allow them to perform one or more major life activities, and disability discrimination is the act of not viewing individuals with disabilities as fully functioning members of society whose voices deserve to be heard.

Disability discrimination occurs most commonly in the workplace, and it stretches across many different disciplines as well, such as psychology, law, and education. Within the field of psychology, discrimination is harmful for individuals with disabilities because it may lead to feelings of isolation, anger, depression, or anxiety. Within the field of law, disability discrimination is the least discussed type of discrimination law. Furthermore, within the field of education, the presence of disability discrimination perpetuates the feelings of exclusion found in school systems. Disability exclusion also increases fear aimed towards individuals who are different.

(from The Today Show)

The problem of disability discrimination is serious, and it influences individuals with and without disabilities. There is not just one group at fault. Each one of us is responsible for the persistence of this problem, and it is a problem that deserves to be discussed in order for individuals with and without disabilities to feel comfortable in the world in which they live.

But the question is: What can we do?

  1. At an individual level, we should strive to understand that instead of disabilities being something that causes these kinds of individuals to be seen as less deserving of being heard, the differences should be seen as a contributing factor to create a unique society with more perspectives available.
  2. At a university level, disability awareness events could be very beneficial. By providing awareness to disabilities, college students and faculty may be able to better understand the struggle of living with a disability, visible or invisible, which they may not have otherwise been exposed.
  3. We should use person-first language: “individual with disability” rather than “disabled individual.”

Disability discrimination is a serious global and ethical issue within our society today. Since I have a physical disability of Cerebral Palsy, I can attest to the importance of inclusion. My experiences of exclusion made me stronger, but the times I felt included helped shape me into who I am today.

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Autmn in the Mountains

The Disability Fight: It Never Ends, Does It?

23 Jan

I am still incredibly self-conscious in regards to the physical aspects of my disability. Though I may have reached a point where I am able to talk about my disability with more ease than ever before, I still haven’t developed a sense of confidence when it comes to the physical differences related to my Cerebral Palsy. I shrink away from the differences, silently wishing they were a part of someone else and not me.

When I see the severe curvature of my lower back in a mirror, I cringe. In the summer, when I give in and put on a bathing suit because of the heat, I hate to look down and see the scars on my legs from my intense surgeries. In just one moment, I am transported back to my intense surgeries, all the physical therapy I endured following those surgeries and the nights I’d wake up screaming and in tears because of the pain that seemed to come from everywhere all at ounce. When I am about to walk inside of a building and I see the reflection of myself in a door, I look away. I don’t have to look at my own reflection to know the way I’m swaying side to side as I walk with a visible stiffness in my legs. I don’t have to look at my reflection to know the way my knees still knock inward and the way I’m up on my tiptoes despite the operations I had to straighten my femurs and try to decrease the spasticity in my legs. I can formulate a picture in my head of myself walking that’s so accurate I want to scream. I’d give anything to not know every single detail of how the way I walk is different from how the average person walks. A part of me hates myself for my self-consciousness in regards to my walking. I spent my entire childhood going through intense surgeries and 15 years of physical therapy to reach a point where I could walk on my own without assistance and be as independent as possible. It’s not that I am not proud I can walk. I am. I know I should be jumping up and down on a daily basis because I am able to walk. But I don’t. I just can’t make myself do it.

If you were to ask me whether I’d choose to have CP over not having it, I’d say I’d rather have it because it’s made me into a much stronger person. But if you were to ask me if there’s anything I’d change about myself, I’d tell you that all I want is to look like everyone else. I don’t want to always be the target of stares from toddlers, and even adults, in grocery stores. I want to be able to stop having to cringe at the severe curvature of my lower back or look away from my scars and the pain I remember and still feel. I want to stop having to look away from my reflection because my knees are knocking together and I’m up on my tiptoes. In a way, that’s what all of the physical therapy and surgeries were for. It was to get me as independent as possible, or as close to being like everyone else as I could get. But even with all that work, I’m so far from being where I wish I could be. My balance sucks. I can’t go up or down stairs without a railing. I can’t put on a pair of pants without needing to be in a seated position. And on the days when I think of the things I can’t do and I’ve fallen more than what is normally expected of me during the course of a day, I cry. I cry because it is so, so hard to keep fighting this. No, I am not faced with a life-threatening health problem, so I’m not fighting for my life necessarily. But I’m still fighting just as hard. And it takes every ounce of strength in my body to wake up every morning and make the choice to face it all…again and again, even though all I really want to do sometimes is pull the covers over my head and hide.

Pigs In Heaven By Barbara Kingsolver: A Book Review.

20 May

Earlier this week I finished a second book by Barbara Kingsolver, Pigs In Heaven. I loved The Bean Trees and Kingsolver’s writing so much that I just had to read more by her.

Pigs In Heaven is a follow-up to The Bean Trees. However, you don’t have to read The Bean Trees first to be able to follow the storyline of Pigs In Heaven. Here’s the synopsis of Pigs In Heaven (according to Amazon.com):

Six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, leading to a man’s dramatic rescue. But Turtle’s moment of celebrity draws her into a crisis of historical proportions that will envelop not only her and her mother, Taylor, but everyone else who touched their lives in a complex web connecting their future with their past. With this wise, compelling novel, the acclaimedNew York Times bestselling author of The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, and Animal Dreams vividly renders a world of heartbreak and redeeming love as she defines and defies the boundaries of family, and illuminates the many separate truths about the ties that bind us and tear us apart.

I can without a doubt say that I enjoyed Pigs In Heaven more than The Bean Trees, but honestly I think that’s because I had already gotten used to Kingsolver’s writing style and I was eager to hear more of Taylor and Turtle’s story together after first meeting them in The Bean TreesPigs In Heaven definitely didn’t disappoint.

Even though I was drawn most to the character of Taylor when I read The Bean Trees, when I read Pigs In Heaven, I connected most with Taylor’s mother, Alice. I think I connected with her most because her strength and strong belief in herself was evident through the fact that she left a marriage that she was unhappy in so that she could be there for a person who was struggling more, her daughter. Alice’s need to be there for her daughter, while also knowing that she had reached an age where she was expected to stand on her own to feet is something that really stuck with me. All teens go through those times with their parents. For me, the most notable was when I went off to boarding school. For most other teens, it’s when they go off to college. When I was first at boarding school, it was hard to adjust to not having my parents around. I remember the months before I left and how I was dying to get out of the house, but the second day I was away from them, I found myself sitting on my bed in my dorm room crying for a mom and dad who were three and a half hours away. Though I know that these feelings are normal, it’s not any easier when you realize you have to pack up and leave behind the people who have believed in you since before you were even born. How do you walk away from a love like that?

What I’ve realized, and what was discussed in Pigs In Heaven, is that even when it’s hard to leave home and go out on your own, you can still look back to your parents for guidance and support. In Pigs In Heaven Taylor relied heavily on Alice when she was in a really difficult spot, but yet Alice was the one to pull away when she realized that Taylor had to walk ahead alone with her own daughter that she loved as much as Alice loved Taylor. It was touching to see the support that Taylor and Alice had for each other, while also seeing how much they trusted that each of them would be okay. Even though I’m not a parent, I know from the standpoint of a daughter how hard it is to realize that it’s finally time to take your own responsibility for things, rather than relying on your parents. However, for me, my parents will be here to support me no matter what, and yet they’ve given me the wings that I need to fly.

I definitely, definitely recommend this book. Go read it! Now!