Tag Archives | physical disability

The Downside of Assumptions

Disability advocate Dave Hingsburger wrote a great post the other day on the assumptions that people make when you’re disabled assumptions(which I’ve blogged about before). He talked about how, when he was watching a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Toronto, sitting on the sidewalk in his wheelchair, the people on the floats singled him out to waved at the same way they did the kids on the sidewalk.  Now, of course, correlation does not imply causality, but Dave Hingsburger has worked with disabled people in communities a long time (as have I) and I agree with his assessment of what went on: the people on his floats made an assumption that his physical disability also meant the presence of an intellectual disability, and started treating him like a child based on that assumption. I’ve seen it happen it before.

Hell, I’ve had it happen to me. At a conference of service providers for intellectually disabled people, actually.

Assumptions: Story Time

I attended the conference just a couple of years after my stroke. It was an honour to be asked to go. After a busy day of workshops, I was very tired and looking forward to relaxing in my room in sweat pants and a tee shirt for the evening.

Before I got settled in, I went to the vending machines to get a Diet Coke, and then I realized something frightening: while I had a room key, I couldn’t remember my room number (my short-term memory was never great to begin with, and the stroke really did a number on it for the first couple of years). I knew approximately what area of the floor I was on. Feeling very foolish, I started knocking on doors, looking for the woman with whom I was rooming to answer the door.

I only had to knock on two doors before I found my room. But the combination of the cane, the sweat pants, and the story about not remembering where my room was definitely (I believe) had one woman making the assumption that I was a “client”, perhaps one of the self-advocates there for the conference, as opposed to staff, because her tone changed dramatically after I explained why I was knocking on her door. She started to talk to me like I was a child.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being mistaken for a person that I support. But I found myself thinking, once I realized what was (likely) going on, “Do we really talk to them like that? Do *I* talk to them like that? How insulting.”

Treating Intellectually Disabled Adults Like Children

I think that there are two issues that need awareness here:

  1. There is a tendency (and I’ve observed this happening to other physically disabled people as well) to assume that if a person is physically disabled, they’re also intellectually disabled. While there’s nothing implicitly wrong with being mistaken for an intellectually disabled person, this tends to get annoying because….
  2. People tend to treat intellectually people like they’re children. They speak to them like they’re toddlers, they talk “around” them instead of to them, and tend to ask to ask others questions about them (“What would he like to eat?”)

The second tendency is dangerous because it reflects a belief about intellectually disabled people that’s potentially very dangerous. If someone talks about an adult like they’re a child, it’s because there’s something in them that believes that the adult in question is a child – and, depending on the relationship between the two people and what sorts of life circumstances are at play, that creates a power differential in which all sorts of abuse can thrive, even if it’s unintentional.

But, Even More Fundamentally

We shouldn’t be treating adults – any adults – like they’re children.

Disabled adults have adult rights and adult responsibilities – they deserve the courtesy of being spoken to and treated like adults – whether they’re physically disabled, intellectually disabled, or both, or whether you’re just not sure.

There’s no need to make any assumptions, really. The truth that all people deserve respect isn’t an assumption.

Dave’s post: http://www.davehingsburger.blogspot.co.uk/

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Gabby Giffords and Emotional Manipulation By the Democrats

I don’t usually blog on the weekends, but last night I saw video of Gabby Giffords saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention, and I knew right away that I had stuff to say about it. Stuff that’s not likely to make me popular, but…I’ve never worried about that before, so….gabby giffords

Before we get into that, though, some quick words about the DNC. Wow. I missed both Biden’s and Obama’s speeches because I was talking to a good friend on the phone, but I plan to watch them on YouTube this weekend. But I saw just about all of the other major speeches, and the tone of this convention was, for me, a one-eighty from the RNC. It was energizing, hopeful, focused on Obama’s accomplishments instead of ripping on Romney (for the most part), and really just a pleasure to watch. I’m not going to pretend that the party doesn’t have it’s shortcomings (aptly covered by Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” over the course of the week. He’s always been good at demonstrating that he can rip into whatever whatever party is in power when they deserve it), but aren’t we talking about the lesser of two evils at this point? It looks to me like the Democrats are the lesser by a *substantial* margin at this point.

But back to Gabby Giffords.

Gabby Giffords Pledges Allegiance

Readers may remember that former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head during what was presumed to be an assassination attempt on her in Tuscon, Arizona in 2011. She survived the attempt, but was critically wounded. She has spent the time since the shooting on recovery: surgeries to repair the damage caused by the bullet, physiotherapy and occupational therapy to restore function to her left side,  and speech therapy. Gabby Giffords now walks with a cane, has problems with her vision, and still goes to speech therapy to address issues with aphasia.

Her story of recovery is certainly inspiring, and it was great that she could be at the DNC. I didn’t see Gabby Giffords recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but the clip that I saw and the activity on my Twitter feed told me that people were certainly affected by it. People talked about her strength, her bravery, and how they were crying.

I admire Gabby Giffords too. But I didn’t cry. I thought, “So, the Dems paired a person with disabilities with the Pledge of Allegiance to create a “tug-at-your-heart-strings” moment.  Looks like it worked.”

I realize that it’s not quite that simple with Gabby Giffords because she was also a public figure who was the victim of a terrible unfairness and this one of her few public appearances since the shooting. But doesn’t that create even more of an argument for emotional manipulation?

Willing to Admit Crankiness

Not that there weren’t a whole lot of moments at both conventions that were designed to play on peoples’ emotions. Every time a speaker tried to do the “call and respond” or tried to get people to chant something, that’s a big-time play on peoples’ emotions. I often found myself in danger of getting swept away by the emotion in particularly the DNC.

And I do admit that I’m a little hot-under-the-collar about using people with disabilities to manipulate public perception this week anyway. I caught a Facebook discussion about a company that apparently gave itself a pat-on-the-back via social media for using children with Down’s Syndrome in its advertising. The person who started the thread was upset because she said that if she’d not read that the model had Down’s Syndrome, she never would have known, and that if the company wants to give itself for kudos for using a model with Down’s Syndrome it should at least use a model that looks like he/she has Down’s Syndrome.

The issue for me was that the company felt the need to point out that they use kids with Down Syndrome in our advertising. Like that makes them a better company? Or like it’s a defense against accusations of wrongdoing?

“We’re good people…we use kids with Down’s Syndrome in our advertising!”

Like they deserve a medal for incorporating diversity in their ad campaign?

Do it because it’s the right thing to do, not because it makes you look better.

Democrats, Meet Me At Camera Three

You don’t deserve a medal for giving a woman with disabilities such a prominent place in the DNC.

You do get kudos for Bill Clinton being the first speaker at either convention to mention people with disabilities.

If you really want to honour people like Gabby Giffords, who have the will to live as full a life as possible with disability (and there are many of us), put policies in place that allow us to, and that allow the people who care about us to assist us to. For all disabilities.

Obama, I’ll be watching your speech to see what you have to say about this. I desperately want to believe that you want to help.

(P.S. Miss Giffords, from one person with one-side weakness to another…you look like you’re doing great. Keep up the fine work.)

More on Gabby Giffords: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabrielle_Giffords

An interesting blog post on the myth that all people with Down’s Syndrome look the same: http://ellietheurer.blogspot.ca/2011/04/myth-all-people-with-down-syndrome-look.html

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My AVM Story: Reflections on Having Kids Post-Stroke

strokeMy niece, Gillian, is celebrating her first birthday on August 20. I will be attending her birthday party next Sunday. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how having the stroke changed (or didn’t change) my feelings about having kids

Gillian – A Force to be Reckoned With, And Not Yet a Year Old

stroke

Just learning to walk…

Gillian has got quite the personality for such a little girl. I saw her over the weekend, and she’s almost walking on her own – she doesn’t quite have the confidence to let go of Mommy or Daddy’s hand yet, but she’s so close to taking off by herself. She talks constantly (some of it is even words!), loves looking at her board books, and is a total ham for the camera. She’s got a big, broad, smile and a laugh that breaks my heart. She’s just precious.

Being a Post-Stroke Mom

Having kids isn’t out of the question for me. It would require a lot of planning. I take some medications (for the seizure disorder that I developed after the stroke) that aren’t safe for a developing fetus, so I’d need to be slowly switched off of the ones I currently take and onto ones that would be safe for the baby. I’d want to talk with my neurosurgeon about the possibility of another stroke.

stroke

Happy Gillian

I’d think that it would be remote at this point, but it’s always in the back of my mind that the post-surgery stroke didn’t happen at the AVM site. I’ve never been exactly sure why that stroke happened, actually.

And there’s the issue of my weak side caused by my stroke, of course. My sister has a friend who knew of a women who raised several babies using one hand – she apparently got so good at it that no one thought anything of it. I believe it, but I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to figure out how to do.

Lots of “Mothering” Opportunities…

The logistics of having my children seem difficult to work out for me. Someone asked me recently if the prospect of that makes me sad. I guess on some level it does, a little bit. But I’ve been hedging on the idea of having children in adulthood since high school. It’s not that I don’t like children – I very much like them. When I was younger, I was frightened that I wouldn’t be a very good mother. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve just never had the sense that other women seem to experience, that having children is something that I need to do.

I look around me and I see all sorts of children in my circle of influence that need a strong female presence in their life, and I think, “I can be that for them if they need it…if they want it.”  And I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that in the job I had supporting youth with intellectual disabilities, I’d often slip and call them “my kids”. I know the importance of professional boundaries and can easily keep them, but in my heart I’m very attached to and protective of all the people I support, the young people included…even the ones who come to me with many supports already in place.

And when Gillian breaks into a smile when she sees me, it’s enough. I feel very fortunate just to be here after the surgery and stroke to be a part of her life, to be able to watch her grow and to be one of the women surrounding her with love and support.

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Lack of Accessible Taxis in New York City is Okay, According to Appeals Court and Bloomberg

There are only 231 accessible taxis in New York City. The appeals court ruled on Thursday that,  accessible taxis in New York City in a city where there are over 13 000 taxis, this is okay, as long as a person with who wants to drive a cab isn’t discriminated against on the basis on disability. The appeals court ruling overturns an earlier ruling by Judge George Daniels saying that the low number of accessible taxis in New York City violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/29/nyc-taxis-dont-have-to-accomodate-disable-appeals-court_n_1637026.html

Michael Bloomberg Says There’s No Need For More Accessible Taxis in New York City, So It Must Be True

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pleased with the appeals court ruling. In a quote in the Huffington post, he demonstrates the lack of insight into the needs of New York City citizens and visitors in wheelchairs that’s become sadly characteristic of him since this story broke last year: “”This ruling is consistent with common sense and the practical needs of both the taxi industry and the disabled, and we will continue our efforts to assist disabled riders,”

Here’s the comment that I left on the Huffington Post story last night (with the punctuation errors corrected; it was late):

“If Bloomberg is content with knowing with knowing that by limiting access to convenient, reliable transportation for people with physical disabilities in his city, he also limits their access to employment and volunteer opportunities, as well as opportunities to put their money back into the city’s economy, I guess there’s no talking him out of it. Lord knows people have tried.

I hope he’s also considered that tourists to New York with disabilities are also affected by how difficult it is to get a cab. If I were planning a leisure trip to an American city and I was still using a wheelchair, or with someone in a wheelchair, this news would definitely make me consider going elsewhere.

What else are the people of New York with physical disabilities to take from this except that their mayor doesn’t care about their transportation needs or value the contribution that they make to city life? Congrats on spitting in your constituents’ faces, Mr. Bloomberg.”

More information on the new ruling on accessible taxis in New York City:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304058404577495052575426594.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

Other posts that I’ve made about accessible taxis in New York City:

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/attn-editor-of-the-new-york-post-re-americans-with-disabilities-act-editoral/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible-taxis-in-new-york-city/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible-taxis/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/michael-bloomberg-accessible-cabs/

http://www.girlwiththecane.com/accessible_cabs/

 

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After My Stroke: My “Weak” Hand/Arm/Leg

Recovering From My Stroke: My “Weak” Left Side

stroke

Reading a post by Grace Carpenter over at “My Happy Stroke”, I was reminded by how much trouble I used to have with referring to my left side, the side affected by my stroke, as my “weak” side.

Trouble because it wasn’t just that my side had been made “weak” by my stroke. Right after my stroke, it had been been nearly paralysed, or so it had seemed to me. I remember doctors asking me to lift my leg from the bed, and only being able to lift both a couple of inches. The foot that had kept its strong arch and pointed toes from years of highland dancing and ballet classes lay shapeless despite my best efforts to make it do anything. And my left hand, when I tried to open my fingers, wanted to remain a clenched fist.

The Problem with “Weak”

As Grace points out, “weak” is a problematic descriptor when it’s used to captured the full spectrum of experience with a limb that’s affected by a stroke:

  1. Weakness – Weakness is part of it, yes. Twelve years after my stroke, my left leg is strong enough to support my weight only for very short periods (this is a relatively recent development) and my left arm isn’t strong enough to hold very much. I do heavy lifting with my right arm and use my left arm as a brace, for extra support.
  2. Spasticity – For a long time (years), my left arm and leg had a lot of what my physiotherapists called “tone”. My arm and leg shook sometimes, and my arm jumped when I was startled (I was fun in scary movies).
  3. Lack of Sensation – Once, when I fell, I broke the little finger on my left hand and didn’t realize it until I had an x-ray of my hand done to look into something else. I couldn’t feel it that I’d broken my finger.
  4. Lack of Proprioception – For a long time (years), if I closed my eyes and someone raised my left arm in the air, I wouldn’t be able to detect where it was. For all I knew, it could be just be a few inches from my side, or out at shoulder-level, or straight above my head.
  5. Neglect – I’m pretty good about not neglecting my left side now, but occasionally I’ll walk outside with my t-shirt hiked half up my left side, or I’ll not realize that my jacket has slipped off my left shoulder to my elbow. It used to happen much more than it does now, though.

I generally use the word “weak” to describe my left side, just because I haven’t come across an alternative that I like (well, on my less-than-good-days, I might say “bad”, but I don’t mean it.)

Grace is considering “gimpy” but there’s something that doesn’t sit quite right about that with me, either…but if it works for Grace, more power to her! :)

Anyway, if you watch the video at the end of Grace’s post, you can get an idea of how my left arm now moves. It looks as if we’ve got about the same amount of arm movement and control, but Grace definitely has more fine motor skills in her hand. I am not to the point where I can pick up cutlery with my hand; the more I try to move my fingers, the more they want to curl up into a fist.

I really like Grace’s blog. Go check it out: http://myhappystroke.blogspot.ca/

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Spoon Theory and People With Disabilities

In a few disability blogs and Twitter “tweets” now, I’ve seen references to spoons: using or spending spoons, not having enough spoons to do something, and how many spoons a given a Spoon Theorygiven activity uses. I just assumed it was some of disability theory with which I was unfamiliar, and I kept forgetting to look it up. Yesterday I remembered, and my research led me to Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory.

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory-written-by-christine-miserandino/

The Basics of Spoon Theory

Miserandino developed Spoon Theory as a way to explain to her best friend how it felt to have lupus. The premise is that people start the day with spoons, and as they perform their tasks of daily living, spoons get taken away.

A person without disabilities or illness may start each day with an unlimited number of spoons, because their bodies are healthy and there’s nothing to stop them (save the usual limits of what the human body can do and the circumstances imposed on them by others) from them getting done what they want to in a day.

A person with disabilities or illness, because of the physical challenges she faces, may only get ten spoons to get everything done in a day. Depending on her disability, six of them could be gone just getting ready to get out the door to a doctor’s appointment. She may be able to borrow against some spoons for the next day, to be sure that she finishes the appointment, but then she might really need to rest the next day.

It’s an interesting way of looking at things. I really urge you to read Masarandino’s essay in full.

Looking at Spoon Theory – Where Do You Spend Your Spoons?

Looking back over the course of my recovery, I can definitely see the moments where I’ve had fewer spoons to spend than the average person. I think that right now I try to live like I have unlimited spoons, and I’m slowly becoming unconvinced of the wisdom of that.

My left leg and arm are much more mobile than they used to be, granted, but they’re still heavier to move than my right leg. I should probably be getting more rest than I do.

I’m choosing to spend most of my spoons  on trying to write and get my business launched, and on social interaction (which I don’t get a lot of and know I need more of).  And I work pretty hard. And I’m pretty hard on myself when other things fall by the wayside as all of this happens.

There’s other stuff, but it’s boring and doesn’t need to be shared.

My point is, maybe my spoons still just aren’t unlimited…as much as I’d like them to be.

I’ll have to think about this some more. Read Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory essay.  Here’s the link again:

http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory-written-by-christine-miserandino/

Image credit: songbird839 / 123RF Stock Photo

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Ballet with Disabilities (and Inclusion)…My Saturday Mornings

Recently, I got a ride home from an event with the woman who taught the adultballet with disabilities ballet class in town a few years back. It was a very small class. There were three of us, including me, and then the instructor, Kate. We met for forty-five minutes on Saturday mornings to do relatively simple barre exercises: pliés, and tendus, and frappés, and battements, and several other exercises that I’d forgotten from the ballet training of my pre-high school years. It was all very relaxed, with lots of laughing. There were moments where my right arm would stretch in second position at  the barre and for a brief, wonderful moment, I’d actually feel like a just a dancer again, and not someone giving everyone else a first-hand look into ballet with disabilities.

I gave up the classes when a friend became very ill and I needed to have Saturdays open in case there was an opportunity to travel to the city to visit him. I missed the classes, though. There was a tendu combination that I could never get, that haunted me. Sometimes, when I’d wait for rides outside my apartment building, I’d put my hand up against the wall and practice it. I kept watching Kate’s ballet school schedule to see if she was offering the class, but I never saw it.

So I was very happy to hear from her in the car that day that she actually does keep it running. She just doesn’t advertise it. The same two women come, and she invited me back. I’ve just finished my second week.

Sarah and Ballet with Disabilities

I really liked that class, and still do, because I’m not a person with disabilities when I’m in it. Kate demonstrates what we’re going to do, (“Because we’re her Alzheimer’s class,” my classmate Helen jokes. “It’s all brand new every week!”) and then leaves it up to me to modify the exercise if I have to, in whatever way I have to. Which is awesome, because:

  • My left foot only points very minimally
  • If I’m concentrating on moving my left side, I have *no* turn-out. I’m lucky if I can get my left foot back into proper position if I lift it off the floor
  • Sometimes I forget to move my left arm
  • Sometimes I have to face the barre and grab it with both hands to do some exercises, or I’ll fall over.

Nobody cares that when I do the exercises on my right side, my foot arches nicely and my arm is pretty and that when I do them on my left side…I’m just a mess.  Or that I can’t do a rise, or a grande plié.  And they giggled with me when, after a particular difficult combination, I said,

“I was saying all the instructions in my head along with you, but apparently my foot decided that I could do that all I wanted, but it was just going to sit there in the air.”

(That was was a *tad* worrying, by the way…it felt like my foot was so confused by what was being asked of it, that it just wasn’t even going to try to keep up, if that makes sense.)

But that’s not the point. The point is that at the beginning of my stroke rehabilitation process, I never would have dreamed that I could feel so comfortable in a highly physical environment like a ballet class. And it’s got nothing to do with my abilities – it’s got to do with the attitudes of the people around me.

True inclusion hasn’t got anything to do with ramps and elevators and accommodations of any sort – it has to do with attitudes.

Many of the “Blogging Against Disablism” posts make the same observation – click on the badge on my homepage to read the BADD 2012 posts.

And speaking of ballet with disabilities…it may not be classic ballet, but I dare you not to be amazed by these two young people…

http://spluch.blogspot.ca/2007/12/disabled-dancers-dazzling-ballet.html

P.S. If you’re going to be staying in the New York City area any time soon and you’re looking for a hotel with amazingly accessible rooms, check out the new “Best” on the “Accessibility Bests and Worsts” page…

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Attn: Editor of the New York Post, re: Americans with Disabilities Act editoral

On April 21, the New York Post published an editorial on the Americans with Disabilities Act editorial that, well, really surprised me.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/handicapping_america_ILRF4YpiggwHJYjGx4OghL

First, A StoryAmericans with Disabilities Act

The first Christmas after my mother died, when I was 20 years old, my father, my sister and a family friend went to New York for Christmas to avoid being around the family home and the memories. We were determined to make it a good trip. We were there from the 26th to Jan 1st. We stayed in a nice hotel and ate nice food. We did all the touristy things. We saw shows. We took *plenty* of cabs.

All of this was pre-stroke, so I didn’t have trouble getting in and out of cabs. But if we’d had to make this trip with me even in my folding wheelchair, I wonder if the trip would have been as good as it was. Given what I know now about taxis in New York, I’d bet it would have been a lot more stressful – perhaps stressful enough to make us consider going to another city.  And it would have been a shame for New York’s economy if we’d decided to go somewhere else that week.

The New York Post on the Americans with Disabilities Act: “…the misery the law inflicts on everyone else seems far more than that of those it helps.”

Seriously?

Let me be sure I understand this, Editor. The Americans with Disabilities Act is making non-disabled people in New York City miserable because:

  • Unscrupulous lawyers are encouraging people to file frivolous lawsuits based on the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • The cost of making facilities accessible (like pools and subway stations) is straining the city’s budgets.
  • Requiring more accessible taxi cabs or a plan to increase access to existing cabs for people with disabilities is unacceptable Americans with Disabilities Act overreach.
Editor, is your beef not more with lawyers and contractors than  with the Americans with Disabilities Act and those trying to enforce it?
And you need to hear another story.

Hypothetical, But It Could Happen

Imagine you, Editor, as a resident of New York, used a motorized wheelchair. Imagine you got a call that your child, at a friend’s birthday party, had been hit by a car chasing a ball into the street and was in critical condition at a hospital across town.

The dial-a-cab service that provides accessible cabs can get you a cab in an hour. But by the time you’ve mapped a route through the accessible stations, it’s going to take over an hour for you to get there anyway. Your child might not be alive by then.

Is this fair? Or just?

Universal Design Isn’t Disabling

Editor, a physically accessible city is one that allows people with disabilities to work, volunteer, access needed services and spend money (and we know that cities love that!)

It’s one that allows people who have temporary disabilities (from casts and crutches to arthritis flare-ups) to get around more easily.

Heck, it allows parents with strollers to get around *much* more easily.

Please remember, Editor, how easily you could acquire a disability. No one likes to think about that, but it’s true. What would you be saying about this then?

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Annie Clark Wins Penmanship Award by Writing with her Forearms

Annie Clark of Pittsburgh, seven years old, says that she was “Not really scared” but “kind Annie Clarkof” when she accepted the Nicholas Maxim Award. She is one of two students to receive the prize, awarded for the first time this year by educational publisher Zaner-Bloser Inc., to students with disabilities for exemplary penmanship.

Clark was born without hands. She writes with her pencil between her forearms. Her adoptive parents, Mary Ellen and Tom Clark, couldn’t be prouder of her, and hope that this experience reinforces to her that she can do anything.

Annie Clark Already Does A Great Deal

Mary Ellen may worry that Annie sometimes wishes for hands, but we must remember that Annie is only seven years old and surrounded by “abled” peers. She may not recognize how remarkable it is that she gets along so well with no hands.

Annie uses her forearms to feed and dress herself and even paint her toenails. “In addition to writing, she paints, draws and colors. She plays the board game Battleship and swims. She dresses herself and opens cans of soda pop. She uses her iPod Touch and computers without assistance,” says TribLive.com

Annie’s school didn’t know that the Zaner-Bloser competition had a division for students with disabilities. Annie won penmanship award for her entire school. It was only when her name was forwarded to the state level that the contest officials suggested that she be put in the division for children with disabilities.

I’m curious to know whether Annie was offered the opportunity to compete with the other students who won first prize at their schools. If so, which option was she encouraged to take, and by whom? If not, why does the presence of a disability automatically mean that she was labelled and put into a certain class of competition, regardless of her ability level?

Not That Having a Disability or Annie Clark Competing in that Division is A Bad Thing…

Or that it should take away from her victory in any way.

Perhaps her parents thought that being in the disability division was the better option for her.

Perhaps Annie Clark wanted to be in the disability division.

But if Zaner-Bloser compelled Annie Clark or her family to put her in the disability division – shame on them. They should have known that she deserved to to compete with the other students who had come first at their schools, regardless of her disability.

USA Today Article:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/04/girl-born-with-no-hands-wins-national-penmanship-awards/1#.T5EvorNrOa8

TribLive News Article:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_791920.html

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My Brain AVM Story: Living Post-Stroke – “The Little Ways”

I had a conversation recently with a woman who’d had to live one-handed for a while after post-strokea car accident (using her non-dominant hand, like I do), and who also lived with what she thought was a brain injury for quite some time (it turned out that her tendency to lose words or use the wrong word in a sentence was due to severe sleep apnea). It started me thinking about the little ways in which I’ve had to adjust my post-stroke life.

My Friends Tell Me I’m Just Getting Old, But…

Before the stroke, I didn’t use a calendar or daybook. I didn’t need them. I could keep track of my schedule and my appointments in my head. I could also remember phone numbers with without any difficulty.

Post-stroke, I can’t do either, and accepting that I now need to write everything down has been difficult. It’s interesting that while I’m generally accepting of how my abilities have changed post-stroke in just about every other sphere of my life, I sometimes “rebel” about the change in this one. I’ll then have to call and ask when an appointment time is, or even miss an appointment, and the embarrassment puts me on track with writing things down again.

Living Post-Stroke with One Hand

I’ve talked elsewhere about how I do most of what I need to do post-stroke with one hand, without even thinking about it now. There are a couple of things that required some creativity to get around:

  • Putting on my bra. Maybe I’ll demonstrate this (fully-clothed) on the You-Tube channel someday.
  • Wearing dress shoes. I generally wear Blundtstones boots, for ankle support, and I have to be careful with dress shoes because my left foot doesn’t sit well in them and I’ll walk right out of them. For my sister’s wedding, we secured my left foot in my shoe with some dressmaker’s elastic. I wear black ballet shoe-style slippers when I can get away with it.
  • Opening containers. I open often bags (like chip bags) with my right hand and my teeth, which is very undignified but effective. My medicines are in non-childproof containers to make them easier to open. I can open some jars, but sometimes I must ask for help.

I used to have a lot of trouble asking for help, and I still don’t really like to, but I’m not embarrassed when I do. I’ve got a good sense now of when I’m wasting a lot of time and energy and just ultimately frustrating myself trying do something that someone with two hands could easily do in under a under a moment. Last night I asked my brother-in-law to cut my steak for me. I’ve also been known to walk out into the lounge in my building and ask someone to open a jar for me.

All in all, I’m living a very functional, pain-free post-stroke life, and I’m very, very grateful for that. Things could definitely be a lot worse.

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