When I came up with this topic, I really wanted to get through all of the misconceptions of what it is to be a disabled person, and attempt to explain that this life is not as fun as it can be portrayed on TV or even online for some people.
Are there any perks at all?
This question is sort of tough to answer because I think it differs between the ages and how extreme one’s disabilities are compared to the average person.
As a child, I really relished on the special attention of others. When I was in the second grade, I was what you call the “teacher’s pet” because of the favoritism that was on display by my teacher and I. At the time, I wasn’t going to basically ‘fight back’ because I was eating it up so much that I remember when our teacher was taking everybody on a restroom break, she picked me up and carried me so I could hang out with everyone in the hallway. The look on everybody’s faces told me that they were a bit jealous of this affection, although nobody ever said anything to my face.
Now that we have this part out of the way, I feel like I need to say that having an aide (or personal assistant as I’ve heard some bloggers say in the past) isn’t the funnest thing in the world. I’ve loved the people that have taken care of me throughout my time in school, I still keep in touch with a few of them, but I’ve only really appreciated what they did after I had graduated. Of course, there were some issues in the past, but the one that plays out the most was after Christmas break when I was in the sixth grade, I suddenly had a new one. I only had 2 replacements and they were each a surprise. Once all of my friends realized my previous aide was gone, a lot of them were more upset at the fact that they weren’t going to be with me anymore.
My nana and I talked about this a few years later about why this happened. She’s the one who made the statement that maybe it wasn’t the outcome they were angry about, rather than they saw her as a friend. Out of all of the people that took care of me. I had one woman who was in her late 20’s. So, everything that my nana was making a lot of sense because she allowed them to get away with a lot of stuff because she might’ve wanted to be accepted among the rest of the class too, the majority of the other aides I was around would say something either to them or the teacher. I would always feel extremely guilty because if it wasn’t for my disability, they wouldn’t be in the room and could get away with the things they were doing behind our teacher’s back.
Having an aide looks fun at first, but after a while, some things get old. I’m not saying the people that I was with for eight hours, five days a week were elderly, I’m just saying as I continued to get older, I was looking for more independence but protection at the same time. and when you feel like you’re not getting as much as what you feel like you should be, plays with you a little. The one thing that made it worse was when you feel powerless in your situation because I viewed myself as a ‘normal’ person, never someone with a disability, despite driving a wheelchair around in the halls at top speed! I craved to have some space between the two that I feel like I could never achieve unfortunately.
Now that I’ve been out of school for close to 10 years, I have grown to love my body as a disabled woman. I think being away from my friends and of course crushes was a great thing for me because I wasn’t putting myself through all of that pressure to being someone I’m not. Personally, I don’t have any perks of being disabled; I struggle to do things, yes, but I don’t see the things I do as a perk nor having to ask for help for small things, I would rather learn how to do them by myself. So, my way of thinking has changed drastically over the years but I think this process has been a successful one!
If you have a disability of any kind, how do you feel about the perks? do you agree or disagree with what I had to say above? When did you realize your views on the matter changed?