My Life Growing Up with a Disability

My Life Growing Up with a Disability

By Janice N. Richards

At the age of seven I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder. They never were quite sure of the cause back in those days but they thought it could have come from a fall when I landed on my head.

I was always a very active child and I had dreamed about being in a circus and wanting to be a trapeze artist. However, that dream would end after a high dive off the swing set at the city park which flew me through the air landing head first with an impact that should have killed me.

I would spend two years of life which my mother referred to as the Zombie years due to the medication as I was always more out of it then normal. Back in those days it was taboo to talk about it or let anyone know you had a problem. So I now had a dark secret to hide and medication to take. My parents were wonderful however, my life changed drastically. I no longer could ride my bike, roller skate, go swimming (without a parent) or sing in the church choir. (I might give some little old lady in the congregation a heart attack).

My parents would now be over protected expected my older sister to look out for me. She never realized how much she resented that.

Now I spent a lot of hours in the yard where mom could keep an eye on me and I had to say no to many an invitation without telling friends why.

I learned to deal with it for the most part but as I grew up I began to realize what teachers were afraid to have me in their class and who didn’t like me. I resented it. I turned my love towards my music and I spent many hours studying to be a concert pianist or a singer. I loved music and I dreamt of being discovered.

When I got to high school the teachers told my parents “IF you do everything right and IF you are lucky , She Might graduate!!! I hated those words and I hated NO YOU CAN’T.  Every time someone said I couldn’t I proved them wrong I did and I was successful. I signed up for drivers ed without telling my parents and after I was accepted into the class I went home and explained. Mom about had a heart attack and dad said she’s got to learn sometime. I won again. I learned to drive and got my license and I was a good driver. I was always careful though. I never drove if I didn’t feel good or skip my medication. I knew what my responsibility was to myself and to others. I took care of myself. I graduated from high school and wanted to thumb the teachers who though I wouldn’t but instead I went off to College. Yes me at college the girl who had trouble learning because of seizures. I started to study music but then I got involved with special education and followed that dream. I never quit dreaming about playing at Carnegie Hall or Singing at the Grand Old Opry but now my life was different. I graduate from college with a BS in Education with endorsements in Music education, special education and I was a reading specialist. I taught side by side with some of the teachers I had in school. Imagine that surprise. I moved on to have my own family and raise two boys by myself while teaching. I have taught in Montana, Idaho and Nevada. I even had the proud day of playing Liberace’s piano, what a day that was. That was when I attended an international Symposium for Poetry in Las Vegas Nevada. I now am retired after a career of forty years and I write about Poetry, my life and the lives of others. I still have to take medication and I will all of my life. I have just released my book of memoirs “Growing Up in the Rockies,” which talks about those early years. I have a disability. I have a seizure disorder. I am on Social Security Disability but not for my seizures. I am on it for degenerative arthritis and other health issues that interfere with my work. I learned to accept my disability not always making it easy on my parents but I learned to live with it.

The one thing that I would tell to parents, teachers , doctors, and those with disabilities. Just let them live their life as normal as possible. Don’t through taboos in front of them. Don’t put up road blocks they don’t need. A person with a disability knows who they are and what their limitations are. They know far before anyone else does and they will learn to life their life accordingly if allowed to. Accept them for who they are and treat them with dignity and the respect that every person deserves. Learning to take medications was a very important learning experience for me but it in reality was no different from learning to eat properly.  “Give the Disabled their Dreams!”

4 Responses

  1. I have a few neurologic disorders myself. Best wishes for your health!

    • Hi Cliff. I will live all of my life with my neurological disorders. You learn to live with yourself and like yourself. Hope you have a great weekend and thanks for stopping by.

  2. I appreciate your honest and heartfelt post. My prayers are with you.

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