Why Having a Disability Doesn’t Make Me a Superhero


How often have we read stories or seen video clips of people with disabilities doing amazing, “superhuman” things? There are blind mountain climbers, people with mobility impairments swimming great lengths and amputees running faster than anyone ever thought possible. Stories like these can bring awareness to a cause and therefore create a wonderful amount of support for said cause. These news stories can portray the positive message that people with disabilities can do great things.

But while there are benefits to running these kinds of stories, there is also a cost. I believe the price we pay for sensationalizing these people is that we send a message to people with disabilities and the general public that being a superhero is the ideal way to “be disabled.”

These truly are amazing acts, but not just because the person doing them has a disability. Having known some of the people who have done these things, I feel I can say that what makes these people noteworthy is their perseverance and passion for what they’re doing. As with most athletes or leaders in other fields, what got them there is their desire to reach their goal and to continue to strive for it even in the midst of hardship. If we place our focus on the disability, I think we miss the point entirely. It takes patience, courage and determination to set any large goal and reach it. We sell ourselves short when we assume that unless our goal is going to capture the attention of the national news media, then not only are our goals not worthy, but this can lead to the feeling that we ourselves are not worthy.

I’m not suggesting people hide their accomplishments or avoid celebrating reaching some seemingly unsurmountable goal. I do think, however, that we should help direct the conversation surrounding these things in a way that points to the hard work and tenacity involved over the focus on the disability. Otherwise, we’re adding to the stigma.

Most people with disabilities, just like most people without disabilities, won’t do these things — not because they physically can’t, but because it isn’t their passion or desire to do so. This doesn’t mean their contribution is any less important or necessary.

The reality is I haven’t done any of those “superhuman” things.  Like so many others, I have a disability, but I am also a mother, wife, teacher and so many other things. But I’m not a superhero, nor do I aspire to be one. I’m “enough” as I am. I’m embracing my life and striving to live and parent from a place of authenticity and wholeheartedness.

If you have a disability and are going about your day-to-day life, you are “enough.”

RaLynn and her family on the beach

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability and/or disease, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Other

When a Man Called My Son Having Autism a ‘Tragedy’

He nearly stumbled over the stroller, the elderly man with the kind eyes who apologized, then bent down to speak to my son, Justin. “Hi there, buddy!” he said exuberantly, then put up his hand for a high-five. Justin simply stared at the proffered hand, then glanced away. The man looked up at me quizzically, and [...]

When You Feel Guilty About Disciplining Your Child With Medical Issues

Let’s admit it, folks. Discipline is a tough subject to talk about when you live the hospital life. The reality is our little ones aren’t always on their best behavior, whether they’re sick or not. Though it’s a difficult topic, and there are many schools of thought, let’s blow this topic wide open. When you’re raising [...]

23 Unique Lessons Parents of Children With Special Needs Have Learned

Parenting is an incredible journey full of challenges and lessons. When your child has special needs, those challenges and lessons may present themselves in ways you never expected. We asked our readers to share with us some of the unique lessons they’ve learned along their special needs journey. This is what they had to day: 1. “Having [...]

Man With Schizophrenia Takes You Into His World With Powerful Self-Portraits

At the age of 7, photographer Yospie Cardoso was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Until four years ago his life was a series of psychiatric hospitalizations. And while he’s been interested in photography for as long as he can remember, two years ago he started putting himself on the other side of the lens, taking intimate self-portraits to [...]