Living with a disability is not easy. Neither is taking care of someone with a disability. However, you grow strong and you do what you have to do to make things work, and to make life easier and comfortable as possible for the person with the disability.
There are many degrees of disabilities; various forms. Rather one is suffering from a physical disability, a mental disability, or an emotional disability—when discrimination occurs, it affects the entire family. It is painful and sometimes can cause setbacks for the person with the disability.
As far as society has advanced, there still remains that stigma that often comes from having a disability. Although, persons with disabilities have made tremendous strides, by conquering areas of life, and breaking down barriers, and accomplishing things that people thought were impossible for them to do.
It is the person with the disability and their family, or caretaker that can make the biggest difference in the way persons with disabilities are treated. It is at that moment when discrimination occurs, and it is dealt with and reported swiftly that things begin to happen, and changes are made.
Sometimes the change is long in coming. Yet, over the past twenty-five years many changes have occurred, and organizations have been formed to help facilitate the charge against discrimination against persons with disabilities.
No matter who you are, what you look like, your ethnicity, your disability or beliefs; no one has a right to discriminate against you based upon those criteria.
I have lived with and cared for persons with disabilities almost my entire life. I have a brother who is disabled. And the fight we had to go through was grievous, but also rewarding. Grievous in the sense of the obstacles and the physical, and emotional toll that it takes. Yet, rewarding in the sense when you see the accomplishments and the growth made in my brothers life.
Never allow someone to dictate to you what you or are your loved one can or cannot do, based upon a perceived disability. Persons with disabilities are making huge strides and changes each and every day. Setting new records with their accomplishments. And it is largely due to the people that support them, and fight for them and with them.
There are many rights that are being violated, because people do not know what may be against the law. For instance, it is against the law to evict a family who has children with disabilities because a neighbor or management does not like the noise; especially if rent is paid on time and up to date. It is against the law to discriminate against persons with disabilities who apply for certain jobs. It is against the law to deny education to persons with disabilities. It is against the law to ban persons with disabilities from certain activities. And the list goes on. (Please see related links for more info on the rights of the disabled.)
One of the major fights we had concerning my brother was his education. When he was younger, he was in one state, and we fought for him to be in an inclusion program. The inclusion program integrates children with disabilities into a classroom with students who follow the regular curriculum. Some parents and teachers fought against this idea, believing that the children with disabilities would disrupt their class. However, it was proven that children who were integrated, learned more, retained more, and grew socially; especially in speech. It also proved to have helped the students who followed the regular curriculum. They were more attentive, and compassionate and helpful towards the students with disabilities.
Moving to another state proved to be a whole other battle. Each state has a different curriculum for students with disabilities. So once again, we had to fight for his right to be given the same opportunities that he was now used to. This also would help to facilitate in the changes that were going on in the home, with the new surroundings. There had to be a semblance of the same kind of structure and order. The routine had to be the same, so that he would not digress.
The battle with the new school system seemed to lie with the teachers. We found that many teachers were not willing to do the necessary work needed, because they were not receiving the pay they desired. Yet, that had nothing to do with my brother receiving the education he had a right to receive. So we fought, until changes were made to the curriculum. And that he would benefit and graduate with the same High School Diploma as every other student. And he did.
Whatever the disability, you have to be willing to fight for the right to live a life that best allows you or that family member to attain the highest level of living possible. Whether it is education, housing, healthcare, employment—you must be willing to fight for yours and their right to have the same opportunities as every other able body. Disability does not necessarily mean totally disabled. Disability does not mean stupid. Disability does not always means limitations. It means finding a way that works best for that person.
My mother was told that my brother would never walk, or talk. She wouldn't accept it. And neither did any of us. My mother worked with him, and his teachers. And when she became ill, I did. My brother has competed and won in Special Olympic games. He has too many trophies in bowling to count. He is an artist. One of his paintings is hanging in a museum in Japan. He has accomplished much, and has much more to accomplish. And I dare anyone to say he can't, or try to stop him. Because they will definitely have to answer to me!