30 Things People With Physical Disabilities Understand

"People assume that you know and are friends with every other person who has a wheelchair."

1. You were not expected to survive.


My name is Annette Dawm and I was born with Cerebral Palsy. The first 24 hours looked iffy, but I'm still here almost 23 and a half years later! I even survived this dance routine.

4. So every year on your birthday you're like, "Take that, Mother Nature!"

Or maybe it's just me who says that...

7. This button controls your destiny.

"Oh, your building isn't wheelchair accessible? I guess I'm not going there."

10. This was one of the rare toys on the market that vaguely resembled you.

I actually don't need a helmet, no matter what my sister says.

13. You had a pretty normal childhood (as normal as it could be), but people stared at you like you were from another planet.

Let's face it, nobody has ever seen anybody like you before and they don't know how to react.

16. You identify with animals that are missing legs because they can't walk very well either, but they're still doing awesome.

This is Alice, the barn cat. Her leg had to be amputated but she was still good at getting places and being totally cute.

19. For every expected milestone an able-bodied child reached, you had to work ten times harder.

Things like sitting or using a fork didn't come naturally. Someone (a parent, family member, friend, educational assistant, therapist, or all of the above) spent many hours, even years teaching you that.

22. There were times when you hated people who made you try new things because it was either too hard, or it hurt. But now you're thankful for that.

My mom and my sister are my two biggest fans!

25. No matter how much they taught you, dressing yourself can still be difficult if not impossible.

You are afraid to take your clothes off for the simple reason: they might not go back on. "Oh no, that's okay. I'll just wear my winter coat and my shoes FOREVER."

28. The thought of having ANOTHER surgery scares the s*it out of you.

I've had 4.

31. You are immensely afraid of falling because you can't just get right back up.

Excuse how greasy I look, but this was my 8th grade graduation party. I fell not too long before this. You can see some of the marks on my chin, under my nose and above my eyebrow where my face hit the walker and the walker hit the ground.

34. You have a small group of family and friends who actually 'get' you.

Yeah, Mike and I met Dan Aykroyd!!!

37. There were always those friends who wanted to pimp out your chair or steal your walker.

This is Dan, my birthday buddy. We've had many conversations about adding a jetpack to the chair and our friend Dwayne wants my walker sooo bad.

40. There are always going to be people who don't understand why you can't just 'get up and get it yourself.' Or why things have to be exactly where you, yes, YOU can reach them.

Seriously, why do you think?

43. Strangers talk to you like you're a baby, even though it's been years since then.

I'm 23, people.

46. Then you talk to them like a normal person and they are shocked at how smart you are.

Plus, that baby voice they were using suddenly disappears.

49. You rode the 'short bus' every damn day!

Thank God that's over.

52. The step to get onto the bus was too high!

What the hell? You know my legs aren't so good and it is supposed to be a bus that I can use.

55. You either shudder, or say, 'There's my bus!' whenever you see one.

It doesn't matter what form the short bus is in.

58. People assume that you know and are friends with every other person who has a wheelchair.

"Do you know Justin? He's in a wheelchair!"

As a matter of fact, I do know Justin!

61. Or they feel the need to tell you that their grandma's walker is the same as yours.

Or it was, but their grandma is dead now. By the way, that's me with my Gramma and my Nana.

64. Personal Support Workers are either your friends or your foes, but if you don't work together, nothing's going to get done.

Luckily, Sheri was awesome!

67. Not to mention that Personal Support Workers are a luxury.

If you live in a rural area, there is no help available. There are no programs that can send a worker to your house. It's just you and your mom or whoever looks after you. 

You can apply to the government so you can hire your own staff, but regardless of where you live, the wait list can be years long.

70. Your disability pension is not enough to survive on.

Really. It's not!

73. If you could actually find a paying job, your pension would get cut down for every dollar you'd earn.

Right now, I volunteer as a writer for Work Story and you can find my stories by searching for my name, Annette Dawm

I am also fundraising to make a film and a book about my experiences related to my disability and otherwise. You can find out more about my projects and donations at www.gofundme.com/paperhoarderbook.

76. You need a geared-to-income and accessible housing, but the wait list is years long.

You have to wait for someone to die so you can move in and have your own life... And you feel guilty about it.

79. People think you get special treatment at events because you're disabled.

(Jason Mraz and Brad Paisley, everybody.)

Maybe you do, but guess what—you paid to go there. You made arrangements to get there, which was no easy task. You've had to deal with a lot of things in your life that other people haven't so you deserve a little special treatment every now and again.

P.S. That little dude in my hand is Schwartz Abdul.

82. You fall in love with absolutely every cute person you ever made eye contact with. (But you don't tell any of them because you think they won't love you back since you're disabled and just plain awkward.)

Hunter Hayes. (Call me!) Hahahaha!

85. You know that every situation you face, no matter how big or small, is going to be a challenge.

But you're ready for it because you don't know any different! You've always found a way to do something and you always will. You're a pro at getting things done.

88. You're a person with disability, but you're also just a person!


(All images courtesy of the author.)

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