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It's Time to Stop Staring at People With Disabilities

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Every single day that we take our daughter out for a walk, people stare. I look at them, smile and think to myself, “It’s OK to ask why a 2-year-old is using a walker.”

Luckily, our neighbors are used to seeing our little toe-crusher race down the sidewalk, glasses on, and walker clanging as it rolls over the sidewalk.

I get it. It’s an unusual sight. Most 2-year-olds are running at full speed on their own. Ours is not quite there yet.

While many people do smile back, you can see the questions in their eyes.

Yes, it’s medically necessary for now.

Yes, it was a challenge at first.

No, she cannot fully walk unassisted.

She has hypotonia and hyper-flexible joints which causes her balance to be off. Plus, her depth perception is off since she is blind in one eye, which contributes to her inability to balance.

I can only imagine what parents of other children with disabilities go through. We are on the mild end of things, and the stares still get to me. Despite their differences, they are still kids. They have parents who have feelings — protective feelings, love and compassion.

Being a part of the rare disease community has taught me so much about love and acceptance. I have met (virtually) so many families who are told such nasty, horrible things about their children. I’ve also seen beautiful souls pass well before their time and their family’s grief. I’ve seen kids make big steps, literally, at times, in physical therapy.

Personally, I love asking questions. I want to know their stories and celebrate their victories.

With all the bad we see in this world, we need to see the good too.
The author's daughter in her walker

We need more people asking instead of staring.

We need more people seeing the beauty in the kids (and adults) who look different, move differently, or have varied abilities.

In the words of my favorite soon-to-be author, Dr. Nicole Julia: “We’re all able.”

It’s time we as a community recognize this and start asking questions and engaging those who are different from us.

It’s time to stop staring.

Originally published: September 9, 2019
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