5 Things I Wish Strangers Could See About My Daughter With Disabilities


There are many things about my adult daughter that I wish strangers could see. I wish people would look past her disabilities, past the wheelchair and see her as a young woman. She is a person with likes and dislikes, the same as everyone else. From the beginning of our life with disabilities journey, I have tried to help others see that she enjoys many activities in her own unique way. Here are five ways I wish people could see her.

1. Just because she can’t run, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy the feeling of moving fast.  She has always loved it when whoever is pushing her in her wheelchair runs. I remember the first time I observed her in a gym class with a peer helping her play T-ball. The memory of the joy on her face as they rounded the bases, her head tipped back and her ear to ear grin still brings me to tears. She loves the way it feels to move, whether she’s rocking, swinging while waving her hand in excitement, cooing while being pushed in her chair on a path at the park, or in our family van. I think most of the population enjoys the feeling of motion.

2. My mid 20’s daughter loves parties! Most everyone enjoys a gathering of their peers. In my daughter’s case, the louder it is the more she likes it. The sound of people talking and laughing, music, dancing, sparkling lights and the general festive air put a smile on her face.  Even just putting on her “party shoes” lights up her eyes. The young women I know feel happy when they put on their heels to go out. When it comes to party food she savors every bite of her favorites, cake and ice cream, raising her eyebrows in anticipation.  Sweets are the best part of the menu for many partygoers.

3. She doesn’t like getting out of bed early, especially on the weekend, looking up at me with one eye open while groaning and trying to snuggle deeper into the nest of her bed. Sleeping late and taking it easy are the reward for getting up on time every weekday and going to work or school or wherever people go during the week. Having a day or two to take it easy and recharge are as important to her as anyone. She doesn’t want to be woken up and expected to function, preferring instead to lie in bed listening to the radio for a while before having breakfast.

4. My daughter loves to be with her family. She is happiest when we are all home and together. She is Daddy’s little girl, even at the age of 24; she simply adores him and tilts her head to listen to his voice as she smiles a little smile. She feels sibling rivalry and scowls when she thinks her sister is getting more attention, yet loves hanging out with her while watching movies or listening to music, casting occasional glances at her with a contented expression. When she and I go someplace such as a concert or the mall together, she enjoys the one-on-one time just as most daughters enjoy that time with their mother, sitting up a little straighter and holding her head a little higher.

She has her favorite places to go, favorite movies, stories and TV programs. She laughs at funny programs and furrows her brow in annoyance when her show is interrupted. She also binge watches certain shows. Most people I know like doing those things.

5. She loves going places and seeing new sights. When we go out in the van or she is on the bus for her day program, she looks out the windows while excitedly waving her hand in the air in front of her. When we go on vacation, she likes taking in all the different sounds and smells, turning her face to the sun while taking a tour boat ride, and looking around the souvenir shops. Of course, while on vacation, eating at restaurants is a must and she likes doing that, too. She is not that happy about sleeping any place other than at home in her own bed, and spends restless nights groaning and sighing trying to get comfortable. A lot of people miss their own bed at home while staying in a hotel or at someone else’s house.

My daughter, although dependent upon us for her care, is a person in her own right, and I really wish more people could see that.

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