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14 Things Adults With Disabilities Wish Their Able-Bodied Parents Had Known

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Raising a child who’s different than you can of course seem daunting. We love our Mighty special needs parents who make efforts every day to do the best they can to understand what their kids need. But in the midst of the Internet’s hundreds of parenting blogs, sometimes a voice gets lost: those of the actual people with disabilities. So we asked our readers with disabilities this question: What’s one thing you wish your able-bodied parents had known growing up?

Here’s what some had to say:

1. “Don’t decide my limits for me. I need exercise, and I want to make new friends — don’t hold me back from sports because I probably ‘won’t be very good.’ If I want to try theater or art, let it be because I’m interested in those things, not because I ‘couldn’t succeed in sports, so this is the next best thing.’ And when I finish a marathon, admit I proved you wrong and tell me you’re proud.” — Hannah Appleton

quote from Hannah Appleton: 'Don't decide my limits for me.'

2. “I try so incredibly hard to hide how I’m feeling and the pain I’m going through because I see how it hurts [you] too. I’m sorry I get frustrated, I’m sorry you have to hurt alongside me and most of all I love you no matter what.” — Jess Cochran

3. “I was blessed with pretty amazing parents, but one thing they always said was, ‘Well, when you get older it won’t matter that you can’t do this or that.’ It still does, which was kind of a shock for all of us. Adult bullies are actually worse than kids!” — Lauren Mclean

4. “I was strong enough to keep up with the other kids; I wasn’t as fragile as [you] were made to believe.” — Derek Canas

quote from Derek Canas: 'I was strong enough to keep up with the other kids.'

5. “I’m not lazy. I physically cannot. I would love to get up and help you. I would love to take out the trash. But I can’t. I’m not being lazy. I’m just not capable.” — Nora Wade

6. “I am super fortunate to have parents who have understood what I am capable of and have never attempted to limit my potential. However, as I entered adolescence, I became increasingly self-conscious about my disability and physical appearance as a result of that disability (i.e. scars from various surgeries), and I wish they did not view my insecurity as irrational or ridiculous.” — Jenna Jacobs

7. “Just because I have accepted my disability does not mean I’ve lost hope. After I was paralyzed, they thought I was giving up on ever walking again because I was at peace with using my wheelchair. Yes, I would like to walk again one day. Yes, I trust that science will get there one day. But in the meantime, yes I am OK with using a wheelchair. It gives me the freedom to let life move forward without my spinal cord injury holding me back. Content, but hopeful.” — Hailey Remigio

quote from Hailey Remigio: 'I am OK with using a wheelchair. It gives me the freedom to let life move forward.'

8. “I wish they’d known I wasn’t just quirky or odd, that there was a name for why I am how I am. I feel like a lot of things could have been handled better if we’d known.” — Rachel Enlow

9. “Every time I complained, it was laughed off… overall, a very effective method for my psyche being healthy, but when we say we’re tired, we’re tired.” — Kegan Mahon

10. “I have limits, I know, but I’m more much capable [than you think].” Lya Castro

11. “The struggle isn’t going to end after high school or after college; I needed your help then as much as I needed it at my IEP meetings. Also, I’m not ‘just the same as everyone else’ — I can understand why you instilled that in me, but looking back… my biggest struggle has been realizing when I have to do things differently or slower than ‘normal.’ I wish you had clued me into that more growing up. That said, you have provided a rock solid foundation for me. I love you both, and I count myself blessed to be your kid.” — Alex Taussig

quote from Alex Taussig: 'I'm not 'just the same as everyone else.''

12. “This is my life now, and being a normal adolescent, well, I can’t do that. Even though I am disabled, I can still be a successful person.” — Arianne Gaudet

13. “Not to blame themselves. Period.” — Brianna Wyckoff

14. “I’ll be OK in the future and [you’re] doing a great job preparing for what lies ahead in the coming years.” — Ashley Mohesky

quote from ashley mohesky: 'I'll be OK.'

Are you a teen or adult with a disability who has able-bodied parents? What’s one thing you wish they had known while raising you? Let us know in the comments below.

Originally published: November 20, 2015
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