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What 'Special' Taught Me About Disability Acceptance

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My life has been full of many sleepless nights wondering what I have to do to accept my disability. As an aspiring media writer with cerebral palsy, I started watching the first season of “Special,” a Netflix series following a man’s journey as part of both the LGBTQIA+ and disabled communities last year, but season two is where I felt the most seen within my mental health, physical disability, relationships, self-worth, etc. The star of the show, Ryan O’Connell, put it best when he said: “I explain things every day, I don’t want to have to do that with you,” and “I do accept my disability, but I still have to live in a world that doesn’t know what to do with me, and that is super painful and shitty.”

The truth is, many of us don’t want to change our disabilities. We are just tired of pretending to be people we aren’t to please others: by feeling as if we must stay quiet when businesses don’t offer equal access, but will carry us inside because they still want our business, or friends don’t invite us places because they know they’re not accessible. To people that are not in our situation, emotions such as these often don’t make any sense because there are other places and people offering the same services or support that we can use.

“Special” is a wonderful reminder of just how much the right form of representation matters. The show offers the understanding that those within minority communities are not alone in their valid feelings of desiring acceptance everywhere, and education for the family and friends of those within minority communities to offer another point of view they may not be able to express. We deserve people who love us without the condition of “getting over” repetitive and trauma-filled situations immediately or at all. We deserve people who grow with us as we are, and a mind that allows us to take ownership of that growth. Thank you, Ryan O’Connell and “Special” for helping society with the hopeful idea that we can find ourselves again.

Image via YouTube.

Originally published: June 21, 2021
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