If you’re reading this

When I was a kid, my friends used to forget I was disabled. Not so much that they’d forget I was sitting down or anything like that, but they’d skip down stairs and expect me to follow them. While this is partially because badassery comes naturally to me, it’s also because my teachers all the way up through my senior year made it possible to forget. When I was 9, 10, 11, I severely underappreciated the time and effort my teachers put in to making my every day experiences seem as normal and seamless as possible. During 7th grade gym class, while the rest of the kids juggled or rode unicycles during our circus unit (why is that a thing?) I learned cup stacking. To me, it seemed obvious that there would be some wheelchair-accessible alternative to what the other kids were doing. That’s just how the world works, right?
Wrong. I’m sure Mr. Lyons (shout out to you, wherever you are) put his free time and thought into figuring out something I could do – but he never let me see what was going on behind the scenes. My 8th grade science teacher never let on that it was inconvenient to have to coordinate with a parent to come in and help push my manual chair through the woods for our outdoor science unit. My 6th grade teacher picked me up and carried me into a boat on a school trip like he’d been doing it for 20 years.
I’ve recently discovered that I can sometimes have a hard time connecting with other people with disabilities, and until about 10 minutes ago I haven’t been able to figure out why. I don’t identify as a person with a disability. I don’t wear it proudly on my sleeve, or push a disability activist agenda. I just live my life, and remain extremely grateful for those around me who allow me to do so. People who don’t plan too far ahead and make my chair seem like an inconvenience. People who don’t see me as “Meaghan, the girl in the wheelchair” but instead see me as “Meaghan, who’s not great at stairs”. I never went to the Muscular Dystrophy camp to meet people who were “like me”, because the people who are like me surrounded me every day.

  
So if you’re reading this, it’s a thank you note to you for making me feel like Meaghan. And just know, if you ever need a token disabled friend, I volunteer.

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