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When People See My Disability and Ask If I'm 'OK'

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I am a wife, a mom, and a work from home mompreneur. I am a disabled mom. No, I’m not a mom raising a child or children who have a disability as an Internet search would suggest. I myself am disabled. I live with cerebral palsy.

Four years ago, I moved to Chicago from the Motor City. Living in a city means a lot more walking. On a daily basis, I walk my sons to and from school, I walk to the store, I take my dog to the park — it isn’t hard to log over two miles a day without blinking. It makes me stronger.

Yet every day, well-meaning friends, passers by and sometimes even my children ask: “Are you OK?” – Yes. I’m OK.

“Do you need help?” – No, I’m fine. If I needed help, I would ask.

“Are you sure you don’t want a ride?” – Yes, I’m sure. I enjoy the fresh air.

“I’ll carry that for you.” – I can manage, thank you. If I want help carrying something, I’ll ask.

While people are trying to be nice, it’s really wearing to be asked in some way, shape or form if I’m “OK” nearly everyday. It’s true I do get worn down and need help at times. However, I’ll usually ask for help if I need it.

I wish people would stop asking if I am “OK.” I would prefer they ask how I am or how my day has been and get to know me.

It may seem like this issue would just be in the “able-bodied” population. However, it’s not. Last year, I joined a Facebook support group for those who were considering having or have had selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). Through the group, I’ve met many others like me. It’s the first time in my life I didn’t feel so alone. There were other children, mothers and fathers living with CP in the group – how refreshing and new. I’d only met two other people living with CP before this. Yet the questions continued.

“Your husband is ‘normal?’” – Yes. My husband is able-bodied.

“You have ‘normal’ kids?” – Yes. I have two able-bodied, beautiful boys!

Yes, I have a disability. Yes, I walk funny. Yes, I have a “normal” husband and “normal” sons. Yes, I have a “normal” life. Why is it so hard for people to believe?

Questions are important and useful. I’m not suggesting that people should stop asking questions. Please, ask more questions and be curious. But don’t treat me differently just because I have a limp, or may walk differently than others. Get to know me, ask about me — not if I’m OK. And don’t be shocked that I have a “normal” family just because of my disability. My disability does not make me wholly different, just differently abled.

I hope one day society can accept that I’m “OK” and get to know me.

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Thinkstock image by Absolutely Frenchy.

Originally published: April 10, 2017
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