To 'Normal' Americans, From a Woman With a Disability

Dear “normal” Americans,

Disabled… I can clearly remember the first time someone called me this. That word stung; it cut deeply within my soul. I didn’t want to be disabled. Growing up in American culture, those with disabilities are often frowned upon. Others assume we are not able to have an impact on our communities. That we need assistance with every little task.

Such a mindset can bring pain and heartache to the disability community. We, the disabled, are the largest minority group within America. Let our voice be heard. I know many of you may not know the culture of disability, and I wish to impart the lessons I have learned from being in a wheelchair for the past four years.

1. I don’t want to be a project. I want to help and bless my community.

2. Allow my voice to be heard. If I say something, please listen.

3. Allow me to ask for help. This may seem strange, yet allow me to have the dignity of asking. If I need help with my wheelchair, I will ask. If I need assistance picking up the pen I dropped, allow me to ask for help.

4. Don’t assume I am doing well because I am walking. Please don’t ask me why I am walking one day and using my chair the next. Living with a chronic illness, sometimes I feel wonderful and other times I barely have the strength to pull myself out of bed. Yet the position of my body does not change my sickness. So just don’t ask. If I want to share why I am walking or how my sickness is affecting my body, I will tell you.

5. Just be my friend. I am human. I want to be loved for being me and for being nothing less.

Thank you for your time,

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Thinkstock photo by Halfpoint.

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