Every Wednesday, I wake up at 8am, get dressed, brush my teeth, do my hair, and pack my backpack. Then, I get in my car and drive to campus. I get to campus at 9:15 am. That means I have time to go ahead and get my daily starbucks order and then run over to Harrison Hall to make my 9:40 am class on-time. You are probably sitting there wondering what the point of me stating my morning routine was. That is my point. There is no shocking factor that I can wake up at 8 in the morning, do all of those activities, and still make it to my class by 9:40. The reason I can do that, and why many reading this might not think too much of it, is because my body doesn’t complicate my ability to do these daily task.
My younger brother is 17 years old. When he was 2 years old, he was in an unfortunate car accident where the seat in front of him snapped in half and impacted the left side of his head. This impact caused him to obtain a traumatic brain injury on the front left lobe of his brain which resulted in hemiparesis and lifelong communication and learning disabilities. Hemiparesis is “weakness or the inability to move on one side of the body, making it hard to perform everyday activities like eating or dressing”. Since the left side of your brain controls the right side of your body, he does not have full movement abilities on the right side of his body.
My family adopted my brother right after the accident. My mom’s schedule, throughout my childhood, was booked day to night everyday with doctor’s appointments for my brother. She brought him to every doctor on the east coast trying to get him the best treatment and care he could get to make his disability less limiting. Many of the doctors told my mom that he would never be able to walk or talk. They said he would more than likely be in a wheelchair with little to no verbal communication for his whole life.
My little sister is the same age as my brother. Watching them grow up together, I could clearly see the difference between an abled bodied person and a disabled bodied person. My little sister had no issues learning how to walk or talk. My brother, on the other hand, had more complications with these activities that seem effortless for most abled bodied people. However, having my little sister there to grow up with him, he was pushed and more motivated to do everything he saw her doing. Despite all that these doctors had claimed about his future, my brother learned how to walk, learned how to talk (talks a little TOO much), and so much more.
By having my younger brother as an example of someone with a physical and mental disability, I was able to see first-hand the struggles that disabled bodied people go through on a daily basis. I feel like we, as a society, don’t give enough attention to the rights of people who are handicapped. When my brother was in a wheelchair, there were so many places we went that did not have wheelchair accessibility. It makes me sit here and think, when have I ever been in a position where I can’t get in because the place doesn’t accommodate to my physical abilities? I can confidently say that I have never been in that situation. That alone shows the privilege I have as an abled-bodied person.
According to worldbank.org, “One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability”. This 15% of the population is not proportionately represented in the media. It is important that disabled bodied people see their community represented. Representation is important because it gives hope and reassurance to people who aren’t the majority. It also brings awareness to abled-bodied people who might not realize that things they might think are simple tasks, aren’t simple for everyone. Awareness is so important because then we can be more considerate of other people. Disabled-bodied people should also be represented more because they are inspiring. They can do things a lot of abled-bodied people cannot. They deserve to be seen and appreciated.
While comforting my brother when he gets down, I reassure him that he can do anything that he puts his mind to. His disability does not make him any less capable of reaching his goals and following his dreams, it just forces him to accomplish it in a way that works for him. He inspires me every day. Despite his physical disabilities, he still finds a way to do what he wants and will work tirelessly until he can do it (because he can, in fact, do it). He’s proved every doctor on the east coast wrong. He’s done everything they said he would never be able to do, and he does it using only one side of his body.