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Don't Lower Your Expectations Because Someone Has a Disability

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Expectations don’t need to be lowered because of someone’s disability.

I was born at 26 weeks and my mom and I had a 5 percent chance of survival. We both made it. I have cerebral palsy, I am an amputee and I use a wheelchair. I am fairly certain the doctors told my parents all the things I wouldn’t be able to accomplish due to my disability. I think I can say that I far exceeded the doctors’ and my parents’ expectations.

When my dad says he has a daughter with CP and she still lives at home, he gets the “aww” that means “I am so sorry to hear that.” But my dad tells them all I do, that I run my own group that helps the community and I am a writer, and that “aww” becomes “wow, that is amazing.” When we think of someone who is disabled, we often make assumptions, but at the end of the day we have no idea.

When you met someone who is disabled, get to know them instead of assuming what they are capable of doing. You may be surprised and amazed to see what we can do and the normal lives we can lead. We just do things a little differently than everyone else, and there is nothing wrong with that. Whether a person has a physical disability or an invisible disability, it is not your prerogative to lower your expectations of them. As a disabled adult I want to be treated like anyone else whenever possible. If changes need to be made, I will let you know, trust me. If a person has limitations and can’t do something, talk to them about it and come up with an alternative plan.

I think if more people understood that — parents, teachers, employers, everyone — they would have higher expectations of people with disabilities.

Originally published: October 7, 2018
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