Things I Wish Others Would Understand About People with Disabilities


A disability doesn't always have to be seen as a “disability”, and I wish others knew that.

As a person that lives with a physical disability, I wish people would stop seeing others as different even though they might look different. I wish that others would stop comparing all people who are different as disabilities. To the ones who are physically, or mentally disabled; I hope you know that having a disability makes you different to the world, but you are just as important as any other person out there. Here are some things I wish people were more aware about:

1. Abilities

Yes, although people with certain disabilities are limited to what they can and can't do physically, it doesn't mean we should underestimate their abilities and personality. We may look different, but inside, we're just like any normal teen girl. We have obstacles, and difficulties, but at the end of the day, we're people with feelings and thoughts. I wish people stopped seeing people with disabilities as just a disability, because they're so much more than a stereotype.

The girl in the picture above is Mikayla Homgren, she was the first girl with down syndrome to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant. People with disabilities are so much more than the stereotype we think of. They're dancers, pageant queens, artists, teachers, influencers, and so much more. I can only hope that with time we become more socially aware of people with disabilities. Give them more opportunities, don't underestimate their abilities and what they can do. They may just surprise you.

2. Pity

I'm not sure if it's just me, or if anyone else with a disability feels like this but sometimes I hate pity. I wish people knew that. It's nice to be treated like any other normal person. Don't treat someone different because of a disability. Don't act different with someone with a disability. I feel like most people with disabilities want to be treated normally, like their disability doesn't exist. It's normal, because it's in our nature as teens to want to fit in with others.

We want to be part of a clique or friend group, we want to be loved, not pitied. People with disabilities have to live with them, so it's nice to know when they're not pitied. They want to feel cared for and wanted. I want others to know that I want to have friends that actually care and don't pretend to care because I'm different from them. Sure, I may not be able to do some things they do, but it doesn't mean I'm worth anything less. People with disabilities want to be valued and want to feel like they are worth it, don't make them feel like they aren't by pitying them.

3. Coping With Pain

We all go through different things, whether it's at school or at home. However, it feels a lot different coming from a perspective of a person who is disabled. I feel like most people view disabled people as strong, brave people who have gone through so many obstacles and facing the struggles of life. That's great and all, but it puts so much pressure on them to feel like they always have to be seen as strong and brave. We're just like anyone else, even more so, because our struggles are bigger and our abilities are lower than that of a “normal” person.

I wish more people understood that it's okay if someone, especially if they were disabled, were “not okay”. The struggle of everyday life puts pressure on a teen's self-esteem and well-being, imagine the struggle of a person who's not able to do all the things an average teen would get to do. Pain is one of the rawest feelings a person gets to experience, and it doesn't get easier to a person who's disabled. Living with any type of disability is tough, and I wish others understood that.

4. Special Treatment

I absolutely hate it, 100%. Even though it kind of goes along with the pity topic, in some ways, they are different. I want to be on that team, friend group, club because they see potential in me. They see that I am worthy, I am enough, and that I will be a great asset to the group. I don't want to be a part of any group, team, or club that thinks otherwise. I don't have to prove where or to whom I belong to. If others can't see the effort you put in and the value you have, then why go somewhere or be a part of something where you'll be forgotten or ignored?

Don't treat the disabled as special, treat them as equals. Disabled people are not higher or lower than any other human being, I hope others see and understand this. Disabled people are not a trophy to win or achieve social status or a charity case to make others feel or look nicer. I really hope no one has been that shallow. You don't know what a disabled person is really like, until you get to know and spend time with them. They might enjoy the same things as you, or you may even have some things in common. I know we've all heard this one before, but “don't judge a book by its cover”.

5. Opportunities

I wish that people with disabilities had more opportunities. Sure, there has been a progression in the disability movement but how often do we hear about it?

Give us more opportunities to showcase our talents, our positive energy, our hard effort. Give us a chance to be heard.

Just because we might have one thing missing that makes us different, doesn't mean we're useless. Don't degrade us to a lower job, just because you believe we “can't” do it or think our abilities might limit us. When I mean abilities I mean our ideas, thoughts, views, and judgments. We are different, but different has never been bad, so why treat us as such?

Take a chance on people with disabilities, you never know what they might do or say. I feel like people with disabilities view things from a totally different perspective that others don't see. We think about other factors that you might not have considered. People who are disabled can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the table, and who wants to take that away? Why would people want to deprive others who are different from opportunities that may benefit a disabled person's life. It may even change them for the better and have a great impact on them. You'll never know unless you give them the opportunity to show you.

Stay Aware

I want others to be aware of this, not only because it's nice to treat others as equals no matter how different they are, but also because as a society we're evolving.

Look at everything that has happened thus far. We're caring about people, raising social awareness, expressing the social issues that are important to us. We've become more involved in each other's lives. Even though we may not understand all the things others face and go through, we can at least say look I'm here for you, and I care about the things you're facing.

In the end, we are similar in a lot of ways. Some of us want a better future, others are fighting for change. Being different is one of the many great things that come out of life. If we were all the same, there would be no need for change, therefore no need to evolve.

Change your perspective. How you see things, how you see others, matters. It makes a huge impact in someone else's life to look at things from a different view. Don't judge others, regardless of disabilities, we all go through messed up things in life. Why not share your troubles with someone, you're not the only one who may feel that way. Embrace pain; pain is what makes us stronger and fight a little longer. I want others to be more open with one another. Share your troubles, interests, pain, difficulties, accomplishments, share it all. Because in the end, no matter how many people deny it, we all want the same thing; to be loved, valued, to belong.

There's another thing I want to make clear: this article was intended for anyone with any type of disability no matter how severe or not severe it is. Whether it's someone with a learning, speech, hearing, physical, mental disability; whatever it is, I want you to know that you are heard, you have a voice, and that you are valued.

Samantha Ferrer
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Samantha Ferrer is a 20 year junior in college in California. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with close friends, and binge watching her favorite shows and movies. Samantha also enjoys watching Rom-Coms and John Hughes movies. On her free time, you can find Samantha thrift shopping, and enjoying/looking at nature.