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Representation Matters: People With Disabilities Shouldn’t Be Ignored



Source: Mikhael Simmonds

Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by blendtw

When someone becomes disabled, life is never the same again. It’s easy to just give up and throw a pity party. That’s what I wanted to do several years ago when I started noticing my body change.

At 19, I began to feel tired and moody all the time, and stopped caring about much. Everyday activities exhausted me; even thinking about them made me tired.

I would spend hours lying in my room with the lights off. My parents thought I was depressed and I didn’t want to see a therapist despite my family’s encouragement.

I wasn’t crazy; I didn’t need to speak to someone about my personal thoughts and feelings. I figured everything would work itself out.

Then my speech started to slur a bit and I found it more difficult to walk. That’s when everyone became worried.

After a little over a year, my doctors discovered I had a brain tumor. For someone who isn’t so fond of doctors, I was seeing a lot of them.

I saw a psychologist weekly, even though I had rejected the thought of seeing one. I was going to physical therapy twice a week, and I had to check in with my neurologist to have an updated MRI every three months.

Discovering this brain tumor changed my life. It was overwhelming and confusing. At a time when everyone else my age seemed to be on top of the world, I was burdened with my diagnosis.

The tumor is located in my cerebellum.

This is an extremely important part of the brain as it receives information from the sensory systems and other areas of the brain and then regulates movements. This includes basic coordination and common everyday tasks.

My speech has been severely affected by my brain tumor. For someone who constantly talked, this was a huge adjustment.

I have trouble standing up in front of a room full of people and delivering speeches since I don’t sound like the average person.

It is very frustrating being unable to articulate my thoughts correctly.

Constantly repeating myself has also had a huge impact on my self-confidence.

In addition to my speech being unclear, I also have difficulty regulating my volume. The tumor has also affected the way I walk which tires me out very easily.

Every year, my family goes on vacation. Getting into pools and the beach is not so easy for me. Despite physical therapy, my legs aren’t as strong as they should be.

Writing is also challenging. Not only is it difficult for me to grip a pen, but the actual act of writing something takes more concentration for me than the average person.

Note taking in class is hardly possible because I am unable to write quickly and legibly. For exams that require a lot of writing, I have to take them in the Office of Accessibility.

In one course, my professor had to record the lectures because I couldn’t take notes.

Of course, many people suffer from disabilities, both mental and physical, but too often we remain invisible. Representation matters. Disabilities should be normalized but not ignored.

Acknowledging there is a problem or that you can’t handle a situation on your own is ok. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness as too many people of color believe.

Wanting to be your best self is what we’re expected to do.

By : Kaitlan Ott

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School supplies on wooden table against color background, space
School supplies on wooden table against color background, space