I never thought my life would look like it does now. Don’t get me wrong- it looks pretty great now. But I never saw myself as the mom of a child with a disability. I went to school and got both my bachelors’ and masters’ degrees in Social Work. Always interested in people who worked in the fields of disability, medicine and policy making. I loved program development and I loved the impact that policies could have to benefit other people’s lives.
Then I had my second child and was thrown in head first to the life of disability. Numerous hours of physical and occupational therapies, more than our share of doctors’ appointments, evaluations and surgeries. And now, looking back, I am a changed person. A better person and one with so much more understanding and passion than I was as a student in the field of Social Work.
I am so lucky to have the benefit of both the education and the parenting. The perspective it offers is all encompassing and allows me to view how parents live with their child’s disability, how children learn and thrive with disabilities, and how policies affect us all for better or worse.
I have been thinking a lot about my own personal “why”.
Why this kind of programming is important? Why children learning and understanding the disabilities of their peers is important? Why schools need to be the change agent in the world and help their students learn about the kid sitting next to them?
I keep coming back to the most simple explanation:
I want the world to see what I see.
I want them to see abilities. I want them to see that kids with disabilities are just kids.
Sometimes they need wheelchairs, or communication boards, or prosthetic legs- but they are just kids.
I am the mom of a beautiful child who uses a wheelchair,
I am a Social Worker focused on understanding of people with disabilities,
and I am an advocate for change.
My daughter is 13 and uses a wheelchair to get around her world. She goes to school, she goes to the mall, she goes on Target runs with her Mom, she goes on her bike – virtually everything any other child does. But our family and our lives are always a little different than everyone else’s and we have our own unique challenges and ways of doing things. I want to be the person who shares this life with the world. I want to bring this program into schools and explain the unknown, and take the fears out of living with disability. Everyone has their own set of challenges. Parents of kids with disabilities, and parents of typical kids. If we can share what we know, if we can celebrate both the good things and the hard things, than we are all better people because of it.
Let me show you what I see. The world is full of abilities.