Many of my able-bodied friends have admitted that when they first met me, they
thought of me as “the girl with the crutch.”. They typically tell me this at a strong point in our friendship where we both feel comfortable enough to joke about my disability. While it is an uncomfortable conversation to have, I am thankful that my friends are open enough to disclose that. It has also given me insight as to why many able-bodies are hesitant to talk to me: I am different, and they do not always know how to interact with people who are different.
Unlike the patronizing Cerebral Palsy Foundation campaign that circulated last year, I
do not want my peers to “Just say hi” to me because they feel obligated to. I am a human being and I do not need “pity friends,” and I certainly do not want to be pinned as someone’s “good deed of the day.”. I want people to talk to me because they are genuinely interested in getting to know me. I want people to see past my crutch, my stutter, and my need for assistance; instead, I want them to see my mind, appreciate my sense of humor, laugh at my dorkiness, and love me for me. Most human beings want to surround themselves with people who accept them for who they are; disabled people are no exception.
My disability should not deter people from talking to me. I understand that some
people are not familiar with disabilities like cerebral palsy, but I would rather people ask questions than gawk at me or dismiss me. I am much more than my disability, and I urge all of my peers to find that out for themselves and get to know “the disabled girl.”