from unleash16 December 2011-January 2012
by Katrina Hendy, who thinks that it’s important to talk about disability in order to understand it.
Many people have some sort of disability, whether intellectual, physical or otherwise. I have a physical disability and can’t write that well.
I was born with cerebral palsy. This means that I am not as strong in my hands and my back as other people. This hasn’t stopped me from dancing and song writing. I am very motivated to do as much as possible with my life, and to learn as many things as I can. My disability has not stopped me in any way from doing what I want. I have taken up dancing, choreography, song writing, book writing and (now) magazine article writing.
As a person with a disability, I have been bullied and patronized. This experience is common to many people who have some form of disability, so if you have been bullied and are reading this, please know that you are not alone.
The thing that people tend to forget is that having a disability doesn’t mean you’re any less of a person. A disability doesn’t take away your right to live the life you want. Disability is something that you cannot control. It does not give others a right to bully or abuse you.
That doesn’t stop it from happening, though.
I have had objects physically thrown at me, and I have been excluded from a group. I have been falsely invited to a party, which was a joke. Boys have said rude things to me, mocking my teeth.
None of these actions are justified. None of these things were my fault. It came from people simply being unable to deal with difference.
At the time, this abuse affected the way I interacted with certain people. My close friends helped me get through this and to move on. Bullying can make people feel alone and excluded. It can make it harder for people to make genuine connections… and aren’t social situations awkward enough?
These days I am in a Transition to Work (TTW) Program and feel happy, friendly and a lot more open. My main problem in the past was excluding myself before others could, and holding grudges. Nowadays, however, I make an effort not to do this. I don’t hate certain groups because of what some individuals did in the past.
Society can help to stop bullying by talking about difference and acceptance. I feel that schools should do more to step in when people are being bullied, not just putting it down to ‘boys being boys’ or ‘girls being girls’.
People with disabilities can integrate into the work force through TTW services. The way I stay positive is to be creative, discuss things with my friends, learn new skills and always stay open.
It is important to get out there and actually speak about your disability and not to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
If you talk about your disability and embrace it, this can help other to understand it too.