Writing a book about my disability has made me fully appreciate how far I have come. For starters, it wasn’t too long ago that I felt nothing but shame about my disability. I kept it quiet and refused accommodations and support because I thought that would make things better for everyone.
Ignoring my disability, though, goes down in my own personal history as the dumbest things I have done in my life. Even past experiences getting drunk at college parties, or things I’m ashamed to admit I did to impress guys I fancied when I was single seem small in comparison.
If your disability is visible and physical, you may not understand this sort of problem. So I guess I’ll elaborate just a little bit. Having an invisible, neurological disability has one side to it that’s a huge blessing and curse at the same time:
No one with an untrained eye can easily see me walk through a crowd and immediately assume I’m disabled. When I was hiding my disability from others the most, I got occasional comments like:
“You walk funny. Why is that?”
Prior to that, I had some level of suspicion that there was something ‘different’ about how I moved. I have a disorder (Dyspraxia) that affects how I coordinate my movements, after all. So I have to concentrate extremely hard every time I cross the road, move my feet forwards, or climb the stairs if I want to avoid danger. For the longest time, I had no one idea how that difference looked to other people.
Clearly, the average person has a limited view of what is actually going on inside my head. They see me fall, trip, break things, and appear to ‘not be listening’. What they don’t see is the reason why.
I have lost jobs before I’m even hired, failed tests and school projects, and failed to gain the approval of people I’m attracted to, admire, or respect because of this complex double standard.
I have always felt trapped between failing to gain adequate understanding and support because I don’t ‘look’ disabled, and failing to gain opportunities because I interact with others…